Wolff thinks that Russell stayed at Williams “a year too long”

George Russell might have jumped to a top team sooner, according to Toto Wolff, the head of the Mercedes Team, after claiming his first Grand Prix triumph.

George Russell may have spent “a year too long” at Williams, according to Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff.

At the Brazilian Grand Prix, Russell led Mercedes to their first Formula 1 triumph, breaking a 23-race winless streak.

Russell’s time as a member of the Mercedes Junior Program was guided by Wolff, who remembers the British driver’s progression through the ranks while driving in the GP3 and F2 F1 feeder series

Wolff told the media, including, “I thought about it at the end of the race, when he walked in as a 16-year-old with his suit, his tie, and his PowerPoint presentation.”

“He’s the first of our new Junior Programme that has won the race.

“Obviously, Lewis [Hamilton] has been the most successful of the ones that has graduated [with Mercedes Benz backing].

“But six years later he [Russell] is the Grand Prix race winner.”

For Russell, we’ve always set high standards.

At every level of competition, according to Wolff, Russell has always faced challenging targets. 

“We’ve always had hard targets, [I told George] you’ve got to win GP3, F2, and he did that in his rookie seasons,” he explains.

Russell made his team start at the Sakhir Grand Prix in 2020, taking Lewis Hamilton’s place who was forced to sit out because of a positive COVID test. Russell was headed for his maiden F1 victory, but a pit stop mistake and a puncture stopped him.

There was much discussion about him entering the team to fill Valtteri Bottas’ position, but Wolff chose to keep him with Williams for another season, which he believes may have been for too long.

“I guess with at Williams he was the best school kid we could have had, maybe a year too long.

“But in any case, today the most relevant [thing] is that he’s a Grand Prix winner, and the deserving Grand Prix winner.

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Brazilian GP, Brazilian Grand Prix, F1, F1 2022, Formula 1, George Russell, Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Toto Wolff

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