Nico Rosberg praises Toto Wolff for ‘risky’ George Russell Mercedes decision

Former Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg has heralded Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff for his 'risky' decision to bring in George Russell.

The 24-year-old moved from Williams to take a seat alongside Lewis Hamilton for the 2022 season, bringing an end to Valterri Bottas' four-year association with the German team – with Mercedes clinching the Constructor's Championship in each of those seasons.

While the change was one that many expected Mercedes to make, taking the opportunity to snap-up one of the sport's most highly-rated young drivers, it also came with a degree of risk as Bottas provided an experienced set of hands.

However, the early signs from Russell's stint with Mercedes in the opening three rounds of the season have been encouraging despite the fact that the team has been unable to compete at the front of the grid – with Rosberg stating it was a 'brilliant' decision.

"It looks like a great bond. It was very risky to take George and replace Bottas with him, because George is such an unknown, but we can say now already that it was a brilliant choice. George has been so mature, he's delivered the maximum points possible, it's been a great choice for Mercedes," he told Sky Sports.

"Toto has learnt so much as well from the fight that Lewis and I had, managing us, that's helping him a lot now with managing George coming into the team. It's very difficult, you don't want to cut his wings completely but you need to tell him 'don't crash into Lewis'.

"It's a very fine line but I think Toto is delegating that brilliantly at the moment. There is less heat when you're racing for 11th and 13th place, rather than at the front for a championship, so that's definitely going to make the situation easier to manage."

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Prior to Saturday's Sprint at Imola, Russell was sat second in the Driver's Championship behind only Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, but has since been leapfrogged in the standings by Carlos Sainz.

Russell has finished ahead of Hamilton in each of the last two races, having finished fourth behind his compatriot on the podium in the opening race in Bahrain, with a fifth-placed finish in Saudi Arabia and coming in third in Australia.

However, he will start 12th on the grid for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with Mercedes encountering numerous issues at Imola and being unable to work their way through the midfield in Saturday's Sprint.

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