Toto Wolff makes ‘irrelevant’ claim about George Russell and Lewis Hamilton

George Russell is just the third team-mate to finish above Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers' Championship.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marked the end of Mercedes’ worst season since the start of the hybrid era in 2014, with the Germans having finished third in the Constructors’ Championship.

After a few strong races, it was back to reality for the Silver Arrows at the Yas Marina Circuit, as George Russell finished fifth and Lewis Hamilton retired from the race.

Incredibly, though, Hamilton’s retirement was the Germans first technical one of the season, proving that the W13 was at least unbelievably reliable.

Reliable it certainly was, but fast it certainly wasn’t, with the side having been third best for the majority of the year.

READ: McLaren dismiss Mercedes engine concern

Russell, however, can be pleased with his first season as a Mercedes driver, given that he became just the third team-mate to beat Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship.

He joins Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg as the only team-mates to beat Hamilton in the standings, something the former Williams driver is “incredibly proud” about.

“If I had been told that at the beginning of the season, I would have been incredibly proud and happy,” said Russell.

“After all, nine times out of ten, when you finish ahead of Lewis Hamilton, you probably become world champion.”

Article continues below

Russell ended the year in fourth whilst Hamilton finished sixth, marking his lowest finish ever in Formula 1.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has labelled Russell beating Hamilton as “irrelevant”, given that neither were “racing for a World Championship”.

“They were not racing for a world championship,” he added.

“They haven’t raced for victories apart from Brazil.

“I don’t think for any of the team it matters whether they finish second, third, fourth or fifth.”

It really has been a miserable year for Hamilton, who not only finished the year lower than ever before, but he also failed to win a single race.

Until 2022, the seven-time World Champion had claimed a victory in every season he’d competed in, with that record having come to an end this year.

Wolff, though, doesn’t think Hamilton is that bothered, with the 2021 season finale having felt “much worse”.

“Last year was much worse,” Wolff said.

“Last year it was taken away from us. This year we lost it on merit. We just weren’t good enough.”

The Mercedes boss isn’t even completely convinced that the Brackley-based team will return to the top next season, with the field being incredibly “strong” according to the Austrian.

READ: Nico Hulkenberg says he has no sympathy for Mick Schumacher

Whilst there is no guarantee that Mercedes will be back at the top next year, the side are determined to do “everything in our power” to make it happen.

“I’m not sure at all whether we can bounce back to a position where we can compete for the championship next year,” he said.

“You need to acknowledge that the competition is strong but we will do everything in our power to set our objectives high and try to reach them.”