Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff believes George Russell potentially had "a year too long" at Williams. Russell claimed his first victory in Formula 1 with Mercedes at the Brazilian Grand Prix, ending a 23-race win drought for the team. Wolff, who managed Russell during his years in the Mercedes Junior Programme, recalls the Briton's journey through the ranks competing in F1 feeder series GP3 and F2. "I thought about it at the end of the race, when he walked in as a 16-year-old with his suit, his tie, his PowerPoint presentation," said Wolff to media, including RacingNews365.com . "He's the first of our new Junior Programme that has won the race. "Obviously, Lewis [Hamilton] has been the most successful of the ones that has graduated [with Mercedes Benz backing]. "But six years later he [Russell] is the Grand Prix race winner."
Wolff: We always had tough targets for Russell
Wolff claims that Russell has always had tough targets at each level of competition. "We've always had hard targets, [I told George] you've got to win GP3, F2, and he did that in his rookie seasons," he explains. In making his debut with the team at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix - replacing Lewis Hamilton who had to sit out due to a positive COVID test - Russell was on course for his first F1 win, but a pit stop error and a puncture prevented it. Talk of him joining the team to replace Valtteri Bottas was rife, but Wolff elected to keep him in Williams for another season - something he thinks might have been for too long. "I guess with at Williams he was the best school kid we could have had, maybe a year too long. "But in any case, today the most relevant [thing] is that he's a Grand Prix winner, and the deserving Grand Prix winner.