Wolff suspects ‘another Lewis title’ will happen before Russell gets one

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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George Russell is on course to finish his first season as a Mercedes driver ahead of his seven-times world champion team mate.

However Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff suspects Lewis Hamilton will claim a record-breaking eighth Formula 1 title before his team mate wins one of his own.

Hamilton has won six of his seven championships to date with Mercedes, and missed out on another last year in controversial circumstances. Russell joined Mercedes this year and leads his team mate by 203 points to 170 with five races left.

However neither driver has won a race this year as the W13 has proved Mercedes’ least competitive car since the V6 hybrid turbo era began. Wolff joked Russell “got that timing wrong” by joining in a season which Mercedes have spent mostly on catch-up and rarely in victory contention.

Speaking to Channel 4, Wolff said he expects the team’s current driver line-up will return them to title-winning ways. “We just need to provide them with the car so that they’re capable to win races and championships,” he said.

“If we can do that, George can become a world champion and Lewis can add another title to his seven. It really comes down to us what good job we can do as a team.”

Russell scored his first F1 points in a cameo with Mercedes in 2020, very almost winning the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain, and since joining the team full-time has stood on the podium seven times. He claimed pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix, then matched his career-best result with second place in the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort after battling with Hamilton.

“He could have had one [win] in Bahrain when he jumped in the car two years ago,” said Wolff.

“George is a great personality. He was obviously hoping to to be in the Mercedes and win races and championships. He got that timing wrong, but at least he has progressed to the midfield now.

Hamilton and Russell got “too close” at Zandvoort, said Wolff
“So that time is going to come. He will win races, he will race for championships, I think he absolutely has it in him. But maybe there’s another Lewis championship in between.”

The two drivers have encountered each other on track infrequently this year. One of their more spirited battles for position occured at the Dutch Grand Prix, where Russell passed Hamilton having switched to soft tyres in a late-race Safety Car period, unlike his team mate.

“They haven’t had a close racing between themselves [before that],” Wolff observed. “I said, after Zandvoort, for my feeling that was a little bit too close. [It] could have gone wrong. But they know, they are experts.”

Wolff is satisfied there is “respect” between the pair. The respect of the rookie that acknowledges his team mate is the greatest driver of all time, with Michael [Schumacher]. And the respect of Lewis, who sees himself in a way in terms of talent and age growing up and, in a way, as weird as it sounds because your team mate is your first enemy, Lewis mentors George also in a way.”

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2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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27 comments on “Wolff suspects ‘another Lewis title’ will happen before Russell gets one”

  1. Probably before Russel even gets a win. The guys worse than Bottas.

    1. lmao… no

    2. Worse than Bottas but ahead by 30+ points, something that Bottas never managed to do. Let alone past the midpoint of the season. More points, more qualis ahead, more podiums. Not sure where that criticism comes from

      1. Let’s not forget however that bottas never drove a mercedes this bad, it looks like to me that hamilton compared to bottas takes off when the car is great, so maybe bottas would’ve been more competitive if he had been hamilton’s team mate in 2013 example. Even so being ahead of hamilton in points is a great work by russell.

    3. Not sure why danric would want to be a reserve driver there..if isn’t already done he will be there

  2. Russell is great, but he still needs to up his game. He seems to be losing to Hamilton in every race now. He is stable, but he needs to set up the car better and make fewer mistakes. For one, in Singapore he made a clumsy overtaking manoeuvre. Whereas he should have been more patient and finish that race in the points (right behind Hamilton, more or less).

    1. Far from “losing to Hamilton in every race,” Russell has beaten him in two of the last three races and is comfortably ahead in the championship.

      1. Whilst you’re right, I think the implication is more that he doesn’t quite have the pace of Hamilton in most of the races. Which I do think is true. On the flip side, he has clearly been more consistent during the season and made fewer mistakes, which is to his credit. He’s certainly better than Bottas, and has a higher ceiling.

        I have to agree with Wolff’s implication here though, which is that Russell isn’t quite on Hamilton’s true level yet, regardless of the points standings. Hamilton with a car that has even a slim shot of the title is a different beast, and I don’t think he’s lost that ability since last season (which was an epic fight between two of the best of all time).

        It will be interesting to see how Russell is doing a few years down the line, with Hamilton retired, and hopefully driving for a team with a car capable of fighting for a championship. Unsure whether he has quite what it takes to be the very best, but he seems to have the drive to try for it.

        1. @simon999 I think that’s mostly a fair assessment. I see the contest between Hamilton and Russell similarly to the one between Hamilton and Jenson Button – Hamilton generally looks faster, but somehow it’s often his teammate who ends up with the better results.

          1. Not a bad comparison, I agree. I just had a look at the head to head stats, to remind myself roughly what happened, and Hamilton significantly outperformed Button in “pace” metrics (Russell stacks up notably better in qualifying trim, compared to Button), but did have more incidents and was less consistent.

            The 2011 season was the very poor one for Hamilton, and the only one where Button outperformed him by any measure. Similar vibes to some parts of this season, perhaps. I suppose the question will always be whether its due to Hamilton declining due to age/focus, or its just another “one-off” poor season for him.

            All I know is, I want to see Merc right up there next year along with RB and Ferrari, to see how both drivers perform.

  3. Worrying for Russell if your big boss says this publically

    1. Maybe it is, but I think its just Wolff being good at managing his drivers according to the personalities they have.
      I doubt Russell is very concerned or disheartened reading this.

    2. “So that time is going to come. He will win races, he will race for championships, I think he absolutely has it in him. But maybe there’s another Lewis championship in between.”
      If it’s based on that, nothing for either to concern themselves with.

      1. The title of this article poorly reflects the actual quotes.

  4. so now, where are the news about Mercedes developing a car that suits Hamilton better than Russel?

  5. George is absolutely a top tier driver. He beat Lando pretty convincingly in F2 and has generally performed above the level of the car at Williams and Mercedes. I think people doubt him because he often has quiet races – very consistent but not setting off fireworks. Often this season he’s been going round quietly in p4, with a 20 second gap either side. It’s a Prost kind of driver – if p4 is possible but p3 is not then we will get p4. Lewis is much more like Senna – if p3 is not possible, I’m still going for p1.

    Different mentalities but both hugely talented drivers.

  6. Rabbit “has generally performed above the level of the car at Williams and Mercedes”

    I’m interested to know why you think that. I’d have said that despite its troubles, the Mercedes is still one of the top three cars on the grid, so being in position 4 in the WDC isn’t really outperforming what the car is capable of. He has had some good results this season, but a lot of that seems to be Ferrari self-destructing. He has done solid drives rather than dominant drives, and I can’t remember any great passing moves he’s made. I may be doing him a disservice there, but nothing springs to mind.

    Previously, at Williams, again not sure he did anything special with it. Yes, he outperformed Latifi, but was that Russell overperforming, or Latifi who isn’t getting enough out of the machinery he’s had. If you look at what Albon is managing this year relative to Latifi, and what de Vries managed in his single outing with them, also makes me think Russell wasn’t really doing anything special with the Williams.

    So I can see why Wolff says what he does. If Merc has a great car in 23 or 24, and Hamilton has a run of bad luck, then yes Russell is good enough to mop up the points and grab the honours, but all things being equal, I think drivers like Hamilton and Verstappen have that extra edge.

  7. But question is, will Mercedes capable of another title in the next few years before 2026? Max Verstappen got a few wins throughout the Mercedes domination period, but Mercedes was so bad till now still zero win…

    1. True, red bull during the dominant merc years occasionally had races where they had the best car, often happened in mexico and brazil for example, this year it didn’t happen for merc.

  8. Mr. Wolff does not suspect at all, he knows full well that Hamilton will get more World Drivers’ Championships before Russell gets just one!

  9. I have an opinion
    6th October 2022, 2:28

    Wolff suspects another Lewis title as soon as the FIA announce the budget cap compliance — pretty sure George couldn’t get a title before then unless FIA defers for at least a year.

    1. Haha, good one. Impossible to beat for George

  10. Mark in Florida
    6th October 2022, 15:34

    Pretty sure Toto is setting the stage for Lewis to get his title one way or another. Ah George, Lewis is faster than you pull over for him don’t hold him up. Or the famous George Lewis is on a different strategy than you let him by. You know all the same stuff Toto did to Bottas. I hope George ignores them both and just drives his race. If Lewis wants to win, get it on your own merits not robbing someone of theirs.

  11. I really don’t believe Toto will allow Russell to beat Hamilton to a title. Russell will be ‘engineered’ when necessary.

    1. they wont Perez him

  12. The only reason why Russel has more points compared to Lewis is because the 1st half of the year Lewis was the guinea pig for Mercedes. In qualifying lewis is now ahead from the 2nd half of the season. Also lewis is no longer doing the testing. Hence his better performance in races also.

  13. Toto highlighting the biggest Mercedes problem right there.
    If he wasn’t also chairman of the Lewis fan club, Drivers titles could have been shared between a few Mercedes drivers since 2014. Lewis’ special treatment has been grossly unfair, and has altered the F1 record books artificially. It’s been like WWF wrestling in the Mercedes era.

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