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Wolff says Austrian GP radio message to Russell the “dumbest” thing he has done in F1

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says interrupting George Russell with an excitable radio message about winning F1’s Austrian Grand Prix was the “single dumbest” thing he has done at the team.

As it became clear that the late-race collision between Lando Norris and Max Verstappen had put them both out of contention for victory as they struggled back to the pits, Wolff hastily jumped on the radio to offer some encouragement to Russell.

Speaking over the team radio, Wolff said: “George, you can win this! You can win this George!”

But in his excitement, Wolff had not checked over the GPS where Russell was on the track to ensure that the radio message would not be a distraction.

And with it coming as Russell needed to concentrate on braking for Turn 3, he did not seem too impressed about the interruption.

“Just let me f***ing drive!,” Russell responded.

Reflecting after the race, Wolff admitted that it had been an embarrassing moment for him, and almost certainly the stupidest thing he had done in his time at Mercedes as it could have triggered Russell to go off.

“I think I know the drivers pretty well and what they need at times to encourage or to refocus, because I spend so much time with them,” explained Wolff. “I think I know the psychology.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, 1st position, guests and the Mercedes team celebrate victory after the race

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“But this one is the single dumbest thing I’ve done in 12 years at Mercedes. I will be forever ashamed by this, because you look at where you message the driver. You don’t do it under braking or in high-speed corners.

“But I didn’t look on the GPS where he was. I just saw these two [Verstappen and Norris] taking each other out and we anticipated it.

“I emotionally pushed the button and said ‘We can win this’. I could have taken him out with this message. Imagine how that would have felt!

“I’m emotional. I enjoy us doing well and I enjoy seeing Lewis [Hamilton] and George doing well, and it was just getting carried away with that situation. I think that is what he said afterwards.

“But seriously…embarrassing.”

Russell had been running third behind the lead battle at the time and, while Wolff said he had been entertained by what was going on between Norris and Verstappen, he never expected the pair to come to blows.

“I think we were all trying to be rational,” he said about those moments prior to the collision.

“We were on for a P3 and that is where the pace of the car was, and what George was able to extract. That was a solid result.

“Then, obviously, you see these two at the front driving each other hard. We know they are really good friends and that was fun to watch. That is how I perceived it at that stage.

“Obviously, then it got a bit more fierce and, at a certain stage, we said it would be possible that they would collide.

“Then it happened, both of them with a puncture, and we couldn’t believe it when we saw it.”

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