Toto Wolff warns Lewis Hamilton and George Russell about fighting

Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell almost collided at the Dutch GP.

Time is rapidly running out for the reigning Constructors’ Champions to claim their first victory of the season, with only five opportunities remaining in 2022.

It’s ridiculous to think that the team who have won the last eight Constructors’ Championships haven’t stepped foot on the top step of the podium this year; however, that is the exact situation Mercedes find themselves in.

With the team set to relinquish their title to Red Bull, the Germans are simply targeting a win, something they’ve achieved every season since 2012.

Failure to win one of the remaining five races of the year would further cement how shocking 2022 has been for the Silver Arrows, who have been relentless winners since the birth of the hybrid era.

READ: Daniel Ricciardo set to join Mercedes in 2023

In all honesty, the team have come close to victory just once this year, at the Dutch Grand Prix.

If it wasn’t for a Virtual Safety Car to recover Yuki Tsunoda’s stricken AlphaTauri, then the Germans might have just claimed a famous victory at the home of Max Verstappen.

Alas, it wasn’t to be, with a strategic error at the following Safety Car for Valtteri Bottas ending any hopes of victory.

Prior to the VSC, Hamilton and Russell were set to jump Verstappen, who needed to make a further pit-stop.

Article continues below

The VSC allowed the Dutchman to pit and maintain his lead, much to Mercedes’ dissatisfaction.

Bizarrely, the Silver Arrows opted not to pit both drivers at the following SC, which saw the pair running first and second momentarily on old tyres, as Verstappen pitted again for fresher rubber.

It was evident that Verstappen would be faster than the two W13s; however, it was at least two against one.

Instead of protecting Hamilton in first, Russell requested to be put onto new tyres, which dropped him behind Verstappen and left the seven-time World Champion exposed.

At the restart, Hamilton was overtaken by Verstappen with ease, with Russell then going past his team-mate a lap later.

However, the pair almost made contact down the start/finish straight due to the sheer difference in speed between the two, something which Wolff admitted “could have gone wrong”.

The Mercedes boss revealed that he felt personally like the duo came a “little but too close”, something he has plenty of experience with during Hamilton’s spell alongside Nico Rosberg.

Wolff explained that there is “respect” between his two current drivers, and that Hamilton is somewhat of a “mentor” to his younger team-mate.

“They need to find their relationship on track because they haven’t had close racing between themselves,” he told Channel 4.

“I said [to them] after Zandvoort that, for my feeling, it was a little bit too close. It could have gone wrong, but they know. They are experts.

“How I would describe the relationship is with respect – the respect of the rookie that acknowledges his team-mate is the greatest driver of all time, with Michael [Schumacher]. And the respect of Lewis, who sees himself, in a way [in George], in terms of talent and age, growing up.

“As weird as it sounds because your team-mate is your first enemy, Lewis mentors George in a way, and George accepts that role of a young lion, whilst both of them still have the ambition to beat a team-mate, and win races and championships. That dynamic works very well together.”

The recent Singapore Grand Prix was another disappointing weekend for Mercedes, with Russell finishing P14 (last) and Hamilton ending the race in ninth.

Hamilton was in the fight for third, before locking-up and crashing into the barrier on the exit of Turn Seven.

The poor result saw the team fall to 69 points behind Ferrari in the battle for second in the Constructors’ Championship, with just five races remaining.

Prior to Singapore, Hamilton was asked about his season, which is on track to be the worst of his Formula 1 career.

The Brit has previously never finished lower than fifth in the Drivers’ Standings, he currently sits sixth.

He’s also yet to claim a victory, something he’s done in every year of F1 he’s competed in since 2007.

Despite the poor season, Hamilton refuses to believe that 2022 has been a “dry spell” but has instead been a “year of growth”.

READ: Mick Schumacher offered Williams lifeline if Haas sign Nico Hulkenberg

“I do not look at it as a dry spell,” Hamilton said before the Singapore GP.

“I feel this year has been a year of growth. It has been a good experience for all.

“There are six races [left] so there are six opportunities and we will try to get a win, but if we do not, I do not think it is the end of the world. [It has been] one of the toughest seasons of my career. We just need to understand the car. Our goal is a second placing. Hopefully, in the next six races, we will do well.”