Damon Hill Disappointed with Toto Wolff's Approach to George Russell

“I think it can be slightly undermining if you’re getting coached by your team boss.“- Hill said.

by Sead Dedovic
Damon Hill Disappointed with Toto Wolff's Approach to George Russell
© Clive Rose/Getty Images Sport

George Russell entered another GP with serious ambitions, this time in Canada. The 26-year-old Briton was excellent during the race and ultimately had to settle for 3rd place. Fans and the team's leaders expected much more from him during the race, considering he had the necessary pace. The Briton faced problems during the race, as he went off the track several times. 

Damon Hill, an F1 legend, commented on this race and Russell's performance. He particularly highlighted Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, believing he made a huge mistake by advising Russell during the race. Namely, the Mercedes team principal at one point told the young driver: "Focus, George, focus." Hill points out that it is sometimes challenging to be a good driver and compete in big teams, considering every move you make is scrutinized.

“I think the problem with George is he started off in a high profile seat before he got to Mercedes. He wasn't making lots of mistakes. When you get to the sharp-end, you get the focus, everyone is watching everything you do, criticising everything much more. At least being more observant of any failing at all.“-Hill said, as quoted by Crash.

Hill is not satisfied with Toto Wolff's reaction, believing that it probably has a negative impact on the 26-year-old. He emphasizes that Russell is a driver who possesses qualities, believing that such advice is unnecessary. Russell is a driver who has already gained experience and likely knows how to handle a certain situation.

So I don’t know. I think it can be slightly undermining if you’re getting coached by your team boss over the team radio over the race, being told to focus. I think he knows what he’s doing to quote a famous racing driver.”- he continued.

The Briton has made several mistakes since the beginning of the season. It is challenging to be part of Mercedes, especially when you face pressures from all sides and if the team cannot provide what is needed.

“I do think this is a problem for George. He’s been there at Mercedes now, they’ve not had a great run but he’s definitely doing the job for them.“-Hill added.

Damon Hill
Damon Hill© Phil Inglis/Getty Images Sport

Hill stresses that Russell has a desire to prove himself, especially as Lewis Hamilton is leaving the team after this season. Hamilton has been the main driver of the team for years, and it seems that Russell will now assume that role. Sometimes, this can be pressure, but it can also be a tailwind given the team's trust. 

Hill emphasizes that Russell has an excessive desire to prove himself, particularly because there's much more talk about who will be Russell's teammate rather than focusing on the driver himself. Hill points out that Mercedes should show more confidence in Russell's abilities and reassure him that he doesn't need to prove himself so much. 

Watching Russell, especially considering the mistakes he has made, it seems he has a desire to make up for some things. Hill believes this approach is a mistake. According to the former F1 driver, the most important thing for him is to calm down, given his speed and quality. The rest of the season could be significantly better for him, especially if Mercedes' leaders show they believe in him.

George Russell's impressions

After the race, George Russell expressed disappointment at what he viewed as a missed opportunity. He felt they had a strong start on intermediate tires but had to switch to slicks when Lando Norris started gaining ground quickly. Despite making a few errors while pushing the car to its limits, he stressed it was their first podium of the year. 

Russell highlighted the amazing speed of their car throughout the weekend, which allowed them to compete at the front again. He described the experience of battling for victory as great, emphasizing that such competitive moments are what make Formula 1 exciting and why they participate in racing.

Russell emphasized that he believed he could catch Verstappen before the mistake he made. The most important thing for him was that he had strong pace, especially on the medium tires. However, he felt he lacked a bit more focus and luck, but there's no doubt things will look quite better for him moving forward. The 26-year-old highlighted the mistake he made while trying to overtake Oscar Piastri, which cost him a position to Lewis. Russell stresses this incident cost them at least P2 and thinks he could have even challenged Max later on. His intention is to focus on the positives ultimately.

Now, Mercedes' leadership must demonstrate their belief in him. It is a guarantee of success.

Toto Wolff George Russell