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wolff russell

Russell: I almost crashed when Toto screamed into my ears

wolff russell mercedes austrian gp winners f1

Surprise 2024 Austrian Grand Prix winner George Russell said his Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff almost made him crash after he took the lead during Sunday’s race at Red Bull Ring.

Wolff, whose Mercedes team had not won a race since 2022, shouted “George, you can win this” over the radio without checking where the driver was on track.

Russell, whose win was only the second of his Formula One career, told the boss to just let him drive as he fended off the threat of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri after taking the lead when Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and McLaren’s Lando Norris collided.

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Russell told reporters: “It was pretty difficult. And then suddenly I had Toto screaming in my ear, ‘you can win this’. And I almost crashed when he screamed into my ears. It was that loud. I think it just goes to show the passion that we all share. And it’s obviously been a tough couple of years for us. It feels great to be back on the top step.”

The last Mercedes win was also down to Russell, who triumphed in Brazil in November 2022 for the team’s sole win of that season. They had won eight F1 world constructors’ championships in a row between 2014-21.

Wolff: I will be forever ashamed

Wolff told reporters he knew all about driver psychology and his spontaneous reaction had been “the single dumbest thing I’ve done in 12 years at Mercedes. I will be forever ashamed because you look at where you message the driver and you don’t do it during braking or in high-speed corners. I didn’t look at the GPS…

“I just emotionally pressed the button and said: We can win this. I could have taken him out with that message. Imagine how that could have felt. I’m emotional. I enjoy us doing well and I enjoy seeing Lewis (Hamilton) and George doing well. I was just carried away with that situation, but seriously, embarrassing.”

Mercedes have made big improvements since the start of the season, with Russell on pole position in Canada and finishing third while seven times world champion Hamilton was third in Spain a week ago.

Despite that, there were no illusions about where the team stood compared to its rivals. Russell said: “The team have worked so hard. We’ve made so many strides since the start of the season. The last three races have been incredible so, more to come.

“I think it’s no secret Red Bull with Max and McLaren with Lando are still a little bit out in front, but we’re always putting ourselves in that third place position the last couple of races. And, if anything happens up front, we’re there to pick it up,” added Russell. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)