Toto Wolff has dismissed the fact that George Russell beat Lewis Hamilton by 35 points at the 2022 World Championship as “irrelevant”.
Russell has just completed his first season as a Mercedes driver and gave the team its only victory in a disappointing campaign, crossing the line first in both the Sao Paulo sprint and the grand prix.
The 24-year-old was remarkably consistent, finishing in the top five in 19 of the 22 races, while Hamilton was more experimental with the setup tweaks he applied to try to get the best out of the troubled W13 car.
As understandable as it is from the outside to think that Russell could even extend his points margin over the seven-time former world champion in 2023, given that he will have a year of Mercedes experience under his belt, his boss Wolff isn’t reading anything into the duo. . respective positions of 2022.
That’s because, for the first time since his debut year with Silver Arrows in 2013, Hamilton did not challenge for the drivers’ title.
It was also the first campaign since joining the Formula 1 grid in 2007 that the Briton, now 37, has gone an entire season without winning, but the Mercedes motorsport boss praised his more experienced driver mentality as ” outstanding” despite the natural disappointment it would have brought.
“I think Lewis has been really good this year,” Wolff told media including PlanetF1 in Abu Dhabi.
“He has sustained us at times: the energy level when it was low, in the meeting room, on days when it was hard for him.
“But that particular record, I don’t think it matters much. It’s more about helping hoist the sails for the upcoming season.
“The partnership with George was really good. Together they developed the car.
“For me, knowing him for 10 years from a personal side, a human side, exceptional, better than the previous performances he had in the car.
“His attitude and mentality this year was outstanding, from not winning in a year.”
When asked specifically about the points difference between Russell and Hamilton, the 50-year-old Austrian replied: “Irrelevant. They are not competing for a World Championship, they have not competed for wins apart from Brazil.
“I don’t think either of them would care if he finished second, third, fourth or fifth.”
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
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