Mercedes’ head, Toto Wolff, has expressed his full confidence in George Russell stepping up as the team’s principal driver after Lewis Hamilton’s upcoming move to Ferrari in 2025.
Hamilton’s surprising decision to join Ferrari came unexpectedly, especially since it followed closely on the heels of his contract renewal with Mercedes, which notably included an option for departure after the 2024 season.
Wolff is optimistic about the transition, emphasizing Russell’s capabilities and potential to lead the team forward. He highlighted that amidst the conversations surrounding Hamilton’s move, Russell’s prospects as the future frontrunner of the team haven’t been given enough spotlight.
“Amidst all the discussions about Lewis, George’s role and future as the leading figure in the team haven’t been sufficiently highlighted,” Wolff remarked in an interview with SkySportsF1.
He sees Russell as belonging to the same promising generation as Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc, among others, making him an ideal candidate for team leadership post-Hamilton.
“Undoubtedly, George is the one I envision leading the team once Lewis departs. I couldn’t ask for a better successor,” he added.
During his first season with Mercedes in 2022, Russell outperformed Hamilton, securing a higher position in the driver standings by two spots and 35 points, and achieved the team’s sole victory in the last two seasons at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
However, Russell faced a tougher season subsequently, with performance inconsistencies that resulted in him finishing significantly behind Hamilton in the standings.
Acknowledging the difficulties of the season, compounded by Mercedes’ inability to deliver a car that could rival Max Verstappen’s leading Red Bull, Wolff remains unwavering in his belief in the team’s primary driver’s capabilities.
He stated, “Our team stands on a strong foundation, boasting a driver who is not only fast and talented but also exceptionally smart. Our focus now shifts to selecting the right partner for him as our second driver, a decision I believe should not be hastened.
“It appears that we might have missed out on a few opportunities, with some contracts likely being signed in the past few weeks that would have been of interest to us. Unfortunately, timing was not on our side in these instances.”