Toto Wolff advised to help ‘weaker child’ between Hamilton and Russell

Lewis Hamilton on difficult season for Mercedes in November

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Toto Wolff has been urged to support whichever driver out of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell is having “more difficulties” like a parent to a “weaker child”, according to ex-F1 driver Emmanuele Pirro. The Italian appeared to back away from recommending a system of team orders to instead focus on getting the best from the team.

Hamilton and Russell both struggled at times last season as they failed to truly get to grips with the difficult Mercedes. Pirro said: “At Red Bull, the distribution of roles between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez is clear. Max is the stronger driver.

“But when you have two equal drivers, like Hamilton and Russell at Mercedes or Leclerc and Sainz at Ferrari, the team boss then has to support the driver who has more difficulties. Like parents helping a weaker child. After that, in the difficult moments, the driver who can bring the extra flash of inspiration will prevail. That makes the difference between the teammates.”

The Italian didn’t state which Mercedes driver needed more support in his detailed assessment.

Russell consistently finished in the top-five in 2022 but struggled to beat experienced team-mate Hamilton mid-season. He also scored fewer podiums than his world champion team-mate but did get the team’s only pole position and win of the campaign.

Meanwhile, Hamilton finished behind a team-mate in the Drivers’ Championship for only the third time in his career. The Mercedes driver also failed to win a race over the course of a season for the first time since his debut back in 2007.

The Briton also fell to his lowest finishing position in the standings, P6, after retiring from the final race in Abu Dhabi.

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However, it is understood Mercedes has a more collaborative relationship with their drivers to improve the car. Wolff even claimed Russell’s finishing position was “irrelevant” as the team had not been competitive.

The working relationship between the pair was one of the German marque’s major highlights last season as they desperately look to find a solution for 2023. Wolff said: “It’s really difficult to make friends in the paddock, especially with your team-mates.

“But what I see is a really respectful and constructive cooperation. I’ve never seen two drivers before in a meeting asking each other questions like, ‘How did you feel on the corner?’ or ‘Did you have the same problem?’

“There is an active exchange, the cards are not kept close to the chest. That’s good for us.”

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