Mercedes Benz team principal Toto Wolff has stated that George Russell must iron out his mistakes if he wishes to continue his progress in Grand Prix Racing.
The Brit who had a brief cameo for Mercedes in place of Lewis Hamilton has impressed in his two seasons at Williams but has at times made mistakes at critical times including at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix where Russell crashed under the safety car costing the Brit and Williams points in the process.
However, Russell dazzled in his one race at Mercedes where he led from the start after qualifying second on the grid, before a pitstop calamity and subsequent puncture cost Russell the race victory despite a spirited comeback to finish ninth with the fastest lap.
With Hamilton still involved in a game of chess over a new contract and Valtteri Bottas’s struggling to match the World Champion’s pace, many have speculated that Russell would be given a promotion to Mercedes for 2021.
However, Wolff poured cold water on those rumours of an early promotion when he spoke to Motorsport.com with Wolff wanting Russell to iron out his mistakes before moving up to Mercedes.
“Winning Formula 1 championships is about making the least amount of mistakes. And that only comes with routine and experience,” the Austrian told Motorsport.com.
“Mercedes expects these kinds of sustainable performance levels and that’s why you need to give young drivers time.”
“Because as exuberant as they may be perceived after the performance that we’ve seen at the Sakhir Grand Prix from George, at the same time, young drivers will be criticised, and criticised quickly, when they make mistakes in such a high-pressure environment.”
“That’s why making experiences like in Imola, and the learnings from that, are very important to form a driver that can perform at a sustainable high level.”
Despite this Wolff has full confidence in the 2018 Formula 2 champion’s ability and was pleased that his faith in the young Englishman was paid off with his Sakhir performance.
“We believed in George because there are not many drivers out there that have won junior championships as rookies, especially not the very competitive GP3 and F2 championships”.
“For us, using him as a replacement for Hamilton was a possibility to confirm what we were thinking about George. It was unfortunate that this opportunity came with Lewis having been out.”
“I would have wished it would have happened in a different way, but it gave us a set of data points to look at and in a way it affirmed how we judged him.”
“It was also an advantage for him and Williams. He was going to go back to his team with a lot of learning, with more understanding and this is why I think for him personally and for Williams, it was advantageous.”