Mercedes confirm Russell will not drive for them in 2020
Toto Wolff has confirmed that George Russell will not be promoted to a seat with Mercedes for the 2010 season, as he believes it is simply “too early” for the rookie to drive in a team with so much pressure.
With the future of Valtteri Bottas still not clear, there is speculation that the Finn could be replaced by either Russell or fellow Silver Arrows junior driver Esteban Ocon, who is without a seat this campaign.
Russell’s current team, Williams, recently stated he would be going “nowhere” in light of the Mercedes interest, and Wolff has agreed, saying it wouldn’t be fair to put such a young driver in an environment were mistakes would not be tolerated, especially next to the greatness of Lewis Hamilton.
“I don’t think you are given the possibility to learn in a Mercedes,” he confessed to Motorsport.com
“Because you’re being put in a car that is able to win races and championships, in a high pressure environment, and I think it can go terribly wrong for a young driver that has the talent to become a World Champion if he’s thrown into that environment next to the best driver of his generation, who has been with us for seven years.
“And I wouldn’t want to burn George.
“I think it would come too early, and on top of that I try to be respectful to all contracts we sign, and we signed a contract, we knew what we were doing with Williams, and this is where he’s going to learn.”
Wolff admits there are exceptions to this rule, such as Max Verstappen being promoted to Red Bull at a very young age, but reckons that the Dutchman still had the freedom to make mistakes first at Toro Rosso before making the step up.
“I think you’ve got to consider that these guys come into F1 at a very young age,” the Mercedes boss continued.
“And there are exceptions to the norm, such as Max Verstappen, who was given the environment at Toro Rosso to learn, and to make mistakes, and even at Red Bull was given the room to make mistakes.
“It’s impressive to see his progression in all kinds of aspects, as a personality – there’s not one bad word about Honda, only good words about his team, the commitment to the team, and that is absolutely the right behaviour of a driver, I wouldn’t expect anything else.
“But he was also given the possibility, even though he’s extremely talented and well developed by his environment, to learn, to settle your strengths at Red Bull, and the Toro Rosso situation.”
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