George Russell (left) will drive alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next year
Toto Wolff has revealed he has a plan to integrate George Russell at Mercedes in a bid to avoid a repeat of a tense past relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the team.
Russell will arrive at Mercedes ahead of the 2022 Formula One season from Williams to replace Valtteri Bottas alongside Hamilton.
While Bottas and Hamilton have largely worked harmoniously since the Finnish driver joined Mercedes, Hamilton and Bottas’ predecessor Rosberg did not always have a strong relationship.
Though Wolff will not stop the talented Russell challenging for the Drivers’ Championship if he is in position to do so, the Mercedes team principal believes getting his “calibration” right will be key as the British driver beds in at the team.
“He [Russell] has proven that he deserves to have a seat in a top car and now we need to get him properly adjusted into the Mercedes situation,” said Wolff to the Formula 1 website.
“There’s a lot more pressure, he’s having an unbelievable team-mate with the biggest records and there it’s important that you condition him and you calibrate him in the right way.
“We’ve seen situations in the past where they’ve failed; Lewis was part of one where I think the team didn’t quite understand how it could potentially go.
“I think we’re maybe a little bit better prepared for that situation but nevertheless, he has all the ambition to be a future World Champion and so has Lewis, to add another one, so it’s about calibration.”
Hamilton is currently locked in a battle with Max Verstappen as he bids to win his eighth world championship.
The 36-year-old trails the Dutchman by five points in an intensifying title battle.
While Russell has just a sole F1 podium so far in his young career, Wolff believes that his new recruit could contend for the team in 2022.
George Russell (left) and Lewis Hamilton will be teammates in 2022
“If we have a car that we can develop, if we are able to go for the Championship, then absolutely, he [Russell] has the same car that Lewis has.
“He has the pace, in qualifying he is very, very fast, and I’m sure it’s going to be fine.
“We are not going to put a driver in the car who is not going to have the ambition to do as good as possible to kick his team-mate as hard as he can, win races and Championships early too, and that’s clear.
“[But] I think you have to respect also the other guy’s perspective, and ambition.
“I’m trying to discuss with him what that means for the team dynamic, what it could mean, how we need to keep the momentum in the team. And he’s very intelligent, he gets that.”
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