George Russell brands Mercedes boss Toto Wolff’s ‘diva’ comment an ‘understatement’

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George Russell has called Toto Wolff’s ‘diva’ description of Mercedes’ troublesome 2022 car an ‘understatement’ due to its unpredictability. The W13 hasn’t delivered the performance worthy of a ninth successive constructors’ championship this season, with Miami producing the latest mind-bending results.

Russell went fastest in Friday practice, and Lewis Hamilton fourth, but their pace vanished overnight as the former was eliminated in Q2 on Saturday. He drove well in Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix and managed to finish in P5, one place ahead of Hamilton, but neither could lay a glove on Red Bull and Ferrari.

Horrendous porpoising has been the source of Mercedes’ struggles in the opening five races of 2022 as Red Bull and Ferrari make up a two-horse race for the world title. And Russell has labelled the W13 a ‘killer to drive’ in response to Wolff’s review of the situation.

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He said: “[The performance is] there; we just need to try and unlock it. Toto’s throwing the word diva around a lot, but I think that’s a bit of an understatement because it’s so unpredictable. When the thing just starts bouncing in the corners, it’s a killer to drive. [In the race] it wasn’t as bad; when you’re not in your full quali mode, you’re not going quite as quick, but it certainly wasn’t great.”

Despite Mercedes’ woes, Russell has somewhat enjoyed an impressive start to permanent life with the team after replacing Valtteri Bottas this season. After the opening weekend in Bahrain, the 24-year-old has crossed the line before Hamilton in the following four races.

But despite his ‘rookie’ status, he hasn’t been shy in publicly expressing his frustration with the Silver Arrows’ fortunes so far this year. Following the latest race weekend in Miami, he admitted his confusion as to how his car’s race pace regressed so much from Friday to Sunday.

“We’ve known all along there is a fast racing car there,” Russell explained. “[But] Friday was a complete outlier, and we don’t really understand why. Lewis did a better job than I did to qualify P6, but even fuel- and power-corrected, his fastest laps were on Friday, whereas every other driver improved [by] well over one second. I think my race pace was two-tenths slower than [Charles] Leclerc on Friday, and [on Sunday] it’s back to half a second to a second, so I don’t know.”

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