Toto Wolff explains why George Russell’s team order request was rejected at Imola

Toto Wolff addresses why Mercedes didn't accept George Russell's request to adopt team orders at Imola.

Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Japanese Grand
Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director…

Toto Wolff believes Lewis Hamilton would have likely beaten George Russell had the latter not made a second pit stop at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix hence why the team opted against team orders at the end of the race.

Russell was the only driver inside the top 10 to complete the race on a two-stop strategy.

As a result, Russell dropped behind Hamilton on track as Mercedes switched their drivers.

When pitting, Russell inquired whether Mercedes would tell Hamilton to give P6 back at the end of the race given that the former had run ahead for the majority of it.

However, Hamilton and Russell maintained their positions of sixth and seventh.

Explaining the situation at the end of the race, Wolff said that Russell’s second pit stop was a “safety call”.

“We haven’t spoken,” Wolff said. “His lap times were getting slower and slower. Our forecast, at the time, said he wouldn’t make it to the end. “We didn’t want to lose the position to Perez. So that was the call.

“The forecast was three or four laps short, to make it.”

If Russell hadn’t made a second stop, Wolff feels that Hamilton would have beaten him anyway.

“Lewis would have probably taken him, anyway,” he added.

“The point is, we are racing for P6 and P7. We, at least, wanted to keep the Red Bull behind. It was a safety call.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola, Italy,
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

Mercedes’ disappointing start to the 2024 season continued at Imola.

It means Mercedes haven’t finished on the podium in any of the opening seven rounds - the first time this has happened since 2011.

While Mercedes are bringing upgrades to their car, their overall competitiveness has remained similar.

“We are making steps in where we want the car to be,” Wolff added.

“We are 30s off the quickest guys. That is a lot. P6 and P7 is nothing to be proud of. You can hear the frustration in my voice.

“There is more to come. It’s incremental gains, marginal gains, that we need to make. That’s how the sport goes."

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