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Wolff explains what happened in Hamilton and Russell crashes

Toto Wolff has reacted to Lewis Hamilton and George Russell's crashes during Austrian Grand Prix qualifying, believing that both drivers are building confidence.

Toto Wolff reckons Lewis Hamilton and George Russell's crashes during qualifying in Austria were a natural part of having more confidence in the Mercedes W13 and pushing the limits. The reigning Constructors' World Champions had been on course to challenge for the top four places during qualifying for the Austrian GP. However, crashes for both Hamilton and Russell in Q3 dashed their chances of starting in the front two rows of the grid. Before any penalties are applied, Russell is due to start the race from fifth, and Hamilton is provisionally in 10th place. Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the qualifying session, Wolff refused to point the finger at the Mercedes drivers, commenting that he was happy to see increased competitiveness from the W13. "These two should never beat each other up or beat themselves up because of the situation of crashing out," said Wolff. "We've given them a car that wasn't on par for 10 races in a row, and now we're starting to come to terms with it and drive towards the front, and then it can happen that you just lose the car. "I'd rather have a fast car and then a qualifying session like this than not having the pace to be the top four."

Wolff: Austria pace has surprised us

With Mercedes delivering a strong showing of pace at the previous event in Silverstone, hopes were high that they could translate their improvements into a strong performance in Austria. In recent races, Mercedes had struggled at the street circuits of Monaco, Montreal and Baku, but appeared closer to the front at the permanent circuits of Barcelona and Silverstone. Wolff suggested that Mercedes could make "a few steps forward" over the course of the Sprint and Grand Prix. "Spielberg was always a race where we were struggling even in the best of our days. It wasn't very good, so we were not expecting another step in performance, but slowly things are coming together," he commented. "It's not like you would think in Formula 1. There isn't one silver bullet where you're bolting on a wing and then it goes, but it's tiny little steps. It's been fantastic work from the engineers, and I'm happy to see that. "If we have good car pace we could be making quite a few steps forward." It remains to be seen if any punishment will come from a stewards meeting with Russell, who is under investigation for "entering the track on foot" during the red flag period following his crash.

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