Russell radio message ‘the single dumbest thing I’ve done at Mercedes’ – Wolff

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admits a radio message he sent to George Russell during the Austrian Grand Prix was “the single dumbest thing I’ve done in 12 years”.

Russell was running a strong third but under pressure from Carlos Sainz and Oscar Piastri in the closing stages of Sunday’s race, when Max Verstappen and Lando Norris collided. That opened up the potential for a victory that Russell would go on and secure, but Wolff had jumped on team radio to say “George you can win this!”, causing Russell to reply “Just let me f***ing drive!” due to the timing.

“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,” Wolff said. “I think I know their psychology. But this one is the single dumbest thing I’ve done in 12 years at Mercedes.


“I will be forever ashamed because you look at where you message the driver and you don’t do it during braking. Or in high-speed corners. But I didn’t look on the GPS I just saw these two taking each other out and we anticipated it, and then just emotionally pressed the button and said ‘we can win this’.

“I could have taken him out with that message! Imagine how that could have felt. I’m emotional. I enjoy us doing well and I enjoy seeing Lewis [Hamilton] and George doing well. I was just carried away with that situation, but seriously, embarrassing!”

The reasoning for Wolff’s excitement was the contact between the top two that came after an increasingly intense fight, with the team principal saying he wasn’t expecting an incident when the scrap first started given the generally good relationship between Verstappen and Norris.

“I think we were trying to be rational and we were en route for P3 and that is where the pace of the car was and what George was able to extract, was a solid result,” he said. “That’s what it was.

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

“Then obviously it got a bit more fierce and at a certain stage we said, well it could be possible that they collide, and then it literally happened, both of them with a puncture. We couldn’t believe it when we saw it.”

Story originally appeared on Racer