Why did Toto Wolff reach out to George Russell over team radio during the 2023 F1 Monaco GP? The Mercedes boss explains

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Toto Wolff chatting with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton at the 2022 Belgium GP (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Toto Wolff explained that his radio call to George Russell in the Monaco GP was to calm him down. The Briton received a five-second penalty. He was on his way to clinch a potential third-place finish if it wasn't for a mistake.

Explaining the radio call to Racing News 365, Wolff said:

“I've done that before. It's just encouraging or calming a bit sometimes. Drivers don't see whether they're quick or not. I think when you're sliding all over the place and you have no grip, and you have somebody telling you that you're actually pretty fast. I'm doing this because the race engineers are flat out, looking at tyres and strategy and, in that respect, I'm just trying to support from an emotional side.”

Speaking to Servus TV, the Mercedes boss further explained:

“He generally puts a lot of pressure on himself, that’s his way. We might have to consult and coordinate. I don’t think he also really thought we would swap positions. I said we are not even discussing that. Staying calm is important. Without his error, it would have been a podium finish. We were ahead of Ocon. It was a race where you could do a lot wrong and fly off the track, but the pace was really good in the rain, the strategy choices were right, and then that’s a result we can be happy with today.”

The Mercedes boss explained that his radio call to George Russell was to calm him down and a message of encouragement. Despite a five-second penalty for using the wrong road at Mirabeau and reentering the track unsafely, the Briton was able to manage a fifth-place position.

However, he fell behind both Esteban Ocon and Lewis Hamilton in the rain-drenched Monaco GP. Wolff felt the need to calm the Briton down on the radio as it was a race where it was easy to make mistakes and errors. He explained that if it wasn't for the error, the 25-year-old would have potentially clinched a podium finish.

George Russell rues losing podium finish due to a mistake

George Russell
George Russell

Following lapped Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll up the escape road at Mirabeau, George Russell rues lack of focus that cost him a podium finish in the race. The Briton believes he had the pace and had rejoined the track ahead of Esteban Ocon after his pit-stop for intermediates.

Speaking to Formula 1’s official channel after the race, George Russell said:

“I’m kicking myself to be honest. One small mistake cost us a podium. I came out of the pits comfortably ahead of Esteban and Lewis. There was a yellow flag at Turn 5. I backed off and as soon as I pressed the brakes, I locked up and followed the yellow flag. I think that’s almost a lesson that when you’re not focussed sometimes – or not on it – that’s when mistakes happen. I probably wouldn’t have made that mistake if there hadn’t been a yellow flag there."

George Russell explained the incident to the Times newspaper, saying:

"As a driver, you sometimes want to get this frustration out of your body and maybe, it’s not necessarily easy for everybody to understand why. I actually learned that my mistake wasn’t actually shown on television until a replay after the race.
"The rejoining was from the prior mistake. I don’t think it was actually clear to many people that we were effectively P3 on-track and lost it. So, a lot of people were texting me, saying well done for P5, not realising that I actually made a big mistake and cost us P3."

The Monaco circuit was one of the golden opportunities for Mercedes to target a podium due to the rain and narrow street circuit characteristics. With a bunched-up field during the race, a third-place podium for George Russell would have helped them in the fight against Aston Martin.

The Silver Arrows squad are in third place and only one point behind Aston Martin in the constructors' standings.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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