Mercedes Formula 1 team principal Toto Wolff believes George Russell’s time at Williams was precious even if the driver from King’s Lynn spent an extra year there.
Russell claimed his first victory in Formula 1 at this past weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, with his three seasons with the Williams racing team playing a significant role in helping him achieve his dream.
During that time, the British driver claimed one podium finish, albeit in controversial circumstances at the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, and developed a reputation of being a strong qualifier.
His performances at the perennial backmarkers at the time earned him a call-up to the main Mercedes squad this season, with Wolff believing the move should have been made earlier.
“Maybe [he spent] a year too long,” Wolff told Motorsport-Total.
“In any case, the most important thing today is that he is a Grand Prix winner and a well-deserved one.
“At the end of the race I thought about how he came in as a 16-year-old with a suit and tie and his PowerPoint presentation.
“He’s the first from our new youth program to win a race. Lewis [Hamilton] has of course been there forever and is the most successful graduate of our junior academy.
“But six years later Russell is a Grand Prix winner. We have always set ourselves high goals. You have to win GP3, you have to win Formula 2 , and he managed to do that in his early years.”
Russell doesn’t want picture with Hamilton shared on social media
Following his maiden race win, Russell also cited his teammate Lewis Hamilton as a major source of inspiration and how they have worked together to develop the Mercedes W13 after a difficult start to the year.
The British driver also joked about how he’d rather not have an old photo of him and Hamilton circulated on social media because of how bad they look in it.
“Our goals were clear: we have to work together to get Mercedes back to where they belong,” Russell stated.
“That’s why we’re really happy that we have such a good, honest and transparent relationship. And we’re here to win. We are here to fight. This result is proof of that.
“It reminds me of a photo of Lewis and I from 2009 that we both would probably appreciate if it weren’t shared too much because we’re not that good looking!”