latest news

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff fans flames of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell battle

The Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes it wouldn’t be surprising if there was some hostility between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell after the Formula One Sakhir Grand Prix, however it would be due to the nature of the job.

Russell stepped in for Hamilton during the Sakhir Grand Prix to the end of last season, and impressed as the world champion sat out the race with COVID-19.

On loan from Williams, the Mercedes junior impressed – qualifying second fastest just behind his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, and managing to sweep past the Finn on the opening lap.

He was on course to win on debut with the Silver Arrows, however due to a pitstop blunder, and a puncture, he had to settle with P9, however since then has been fiercely linked with a drive for the team next season.

Addressing rumours swirling around the paddock that Hamilton had stopped talking to the young Brit, Wolff admitted by the nature of the game, he wouldn’t rule it out.

“This is the first time I’ve heard that.” Wolff said to Sport 24.

”But the feelings of my drivers are the least of my worries. But I can imagine it’s because the competition between the two is very strong. The big boys always feel it when a good guy is coming [along], and George is the next generation.”

Russell, who is out of contract with Williams at the end of the season, has been tipped to become the next Mercedes driver if Bottas or Hamilton decided to move away from the team in 2022.

Both drivers are also out of contract come the end of the season, potentially paving the way for a driver like Russell to step up, however the Williams star admitted in the past that no promises had been made.

“Toto [Wolff] has always given me his word, and he has always given me the opportunity when they believe I deserve it,” Russell said.

“They’ve told me that I am a part of their future, whenever that may be.

“It’s when they believe the time is right. I think a lot of people think next year is the natural path, but equally things change very, very quickly in motorsport, especially in Formula One.

“I’m not even thinking about it to be honest.

“If I perform on track and I deliver continually on the same path and progress I’ve been on so far, I guess in the future the opportunity will come but I’m not thinking about it and no promises have been made.”

The 23-year-old however explained exclusively to the Express Sport he doesn’t seek advice from the older drivers on the grid

“I can’t say any of these older guys have offered advice, but why should they?” he said.

“We’re all competitors, we’re all fighters and we are racing against one another, but now we’ve got the likes of Jenson [Button] at Williams, he would be the ideal person to be seeking advice whenever needed.”