Toto Wolff weighs in on George Russells theory behind Lewis Hamilton woes

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has given his interpretation on whether George Russell’s previous experience with a struggling team is helping him to outshine Lewis Hamilton. The Silver Arrows newbie recently suggested that spending three years wrestling with a difficult Williams car primed him to get the most out of his porpoising Mercedes. 

Mercedes have struggled for pace this year after pipping Red Bull to an eighth consecutive Constructors’ Championship in 2021, but Hamilton has had a particularly tough time. After four races, the student is already 21 points ahead of the master amid a pattern of results that have gone against most fans’ expectations. 

Last time out in Emilia-Romagna, Russell picked up solid points by finishing in fourth, but his more experienced team-mate took the chequered flag way back in P13. When quizzed on why there had been such a gap between the pair, the youngster cited his time with Williams as a potential explanation. 

Before qualifying got underway in Miami, Wolff was asked whether he saw sense in Russell’s theory. “I don’t see any mental weakness with Lewis,” he claimed. “Clearly, when you’re fighting for a championship four months ago and suddenly you’re not at the front, that’s a different situation.

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“But it does not have a negative impact. George is coming from a car that was at the back of the grid, but the way he approaches developing the car makes no difference. He’s very methodological whether he’s P1 or P11.”

While Wolff has played down the difference, Hamilton will undoubtedly be keen to claw back some ground and re-assert his position of dominance in the Mercedes garage. The 37-year-old has won six of his seven world titles with the Silver Arrows, and spent the past five years routinely outperforming Valtteri Bottas. 

Even the ousted Finn is threatening to edge ahead of Hamilton in the drivers’ standings, despite being expected to tumble down the pecking order after joining up with Alfa Romeo. Bottas sits just four points behind after a sequence of positive results, including a tremendous P5 at Imola last time out and sixth spot on the opening weekend in Bahrain. 

Hamilton is also making headlines off the track, given his well-publicised FIA protests over new regulations on driver underwear and jewellery. Race director Niels Wittich has pledged to enforce the jewellery ban with trackside checks, but the Brit responded by turning up to a recent press conference decked out in chains and watches. 

Fellow former world champion Sebastian Vettel has spoken out in support of Hamilton, given his common opposition to the rule changes. The Mercedes man has been granted a two-year exemption by the FIA on piercings that cannot be immediately removed. 

Six-time Grand Prix winner Ralf Schumacher has branded the duo ‘childish’ for their opposition to the new regulations, which he feels should benefit the sport’s young drivers. 

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