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After Drama Against Lewis Hamilton, George Russell Served Harsh Reminder of Toto Wolff’s Elite Mentality by Ex-Ferrari Boss

Published 09/26/2023, 1:00 AM EDT

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After 5 years of having a rather non-feisty teammate, Lewis Hamilton was always going to be flustered with a dynamic & aggressive George Russell. Ever since the ex-Williams driver has come into the fold, things have seemed to get more feisty at Mercedes. Usually, the Silver Arrows allow their drivers to fight without team orders. However, in the 2023 Japanese GP, they had to revert back to the old team order strategy. While it was in favor of Hamilton who was on a faster strategy, Russell didn’t comply with it in as friendly a manner as Valtteri Bottas used to.

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This team orders deployment also saw Russell voice his frustration openly on the radio. After all, he got the shorter straw of luck in a strategic gamble of a 1 stop strategy in Suzuka. Yes, you read that right. Now, as Russell chose this strategy himself, one would expect him to accept the consequences. Even an ex-Ferrari boss thought so to give him a harsh reminder of how a Mercedes driver usually reacts & responds in such situations.

What does George Russell need to learn as a Mercedes driver?

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Mercedes & Toto Wolff always showcase a very classy & elite team culture. Be it any situation even as extreme as the Abu Dhabi 2021 saga. Thus, George Russell coming on the radio to slam the team orders so openly feels a bit odd. This is what the former Ferrari General manager Peter Windsor cited when he spoke about Russell’s radio rant on his Japanese GP analysis on YouTube.

According to Windsor, the Silver Arrows have this elite blue-chip F1 team mentality. He stated in reference to George’s radio, “At this point, George gets on the radio, & says, ‘are we racing other teams or are we racing ourselves? which is kind of an aggressive thing for a Mercedes driver to say in public on air on the radio. Bearing in mind this is the most conservative, of bluechip Formula 1 teams.

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Windsor also alluded to the Abu Dhabi 2021 saga to explain how Mercedes didn’t take extreme actions. It reflected their blue-chip elite mentality often embodied by Toto Wolff. He added, “They wanted to get on with the 2022 season & didn’t wanna make too much of a drama. So no problem, that’s how, that’s what Mercedes are: very conservative Formula 1 team.”

Certainly, the team will have had a word with the 25-year-old driver to avoid such outbursts in public. Naturally, Russell must be frustrated a lot after his Singapore GP misery. Still, it is important that he doesn’t lose his mind & stay focused on his racing to achieve the results he wants.

George knows that Lewis Hamilton has been the de facto leader at Mercedes. Therefore, he needs to tread his way steadily to take that mantle from him & even challenge him in a championship scenario. Though, has Russell developed himself into a complete driver to challenge & beat the seven-time champion?

What is Russell lacking relative to Lewis Hamilton?

For any F1 driver, speed & consistency is crucial. George Russell demonstrated these 2 aspects right in his maiden year for the Silver Arrows. Beating Hamilton by a comfortable 35 points was quite an achievement. While Russell has been very fast & consistent, he also has these moments when he seems very impatient & makes a wrong call.

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The Singapore GP is a classic example of this. Despite having a tire offset advantage, the man from King’s Lynn was hyperactively chasing the win that amplified as the final lap of the Grand Prix closed in. Having 2 cars in front of him that were slower but still defending well could have frustrated Russell. This obviously led to the young Briton’s last-lap crash.

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Many argue that if Lewis had been the lead Mercedes of the two, he could have passed Lando Norris & Carlos Sainz to win. While this may be a what-if statement, the 38-year-old has done it several times in the past. Chasing down rivals on a 2-stop aggressive strategy to win the race is something Hamilton calmly does & succeeds in (just ask Max Verstappen). Also, even when he may know that it is not possible to take the win, Hamilton may settle for the best position he can get.

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WATCH THIS STORY | Lewis Hamilton Gets Past Flashbacks Against George Russell at the 2023 Spanish GP

Therefore, Russell may be lacking this maturity & patience relative to Hamilton, perhaps due to a lack of experience in fighting at the front. Still, the ex-Williams man can develop this in Lewis’s company. What do you think about George Russell?

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Written by:

Aishwary Gaonkar

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Aishwary Gaonkar is an F1 Author & Editor at EssentiallySports who has completed his postgrad & has set out to venture into the world of Sports Journalism. He is an ardent fan of F1 and has been following the most prestigious form of motor racing for over a decade now. Initially, it was the dominance of Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull that made him fall in love with this thrilling sport.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare

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