Toto Wolff twice shuts down George Russell in unusual move during French GP row

George Russell blasted his team for refusing to push for a penalty for Sergio Perez at the French Grand Prix. Russell dived down the inside of Perez at the chicane in the battle for third, forcing the Red Bull star off the track. 

But, the Mercedes youngster felt the Mexican had gained an advantage and should let him back past. Russell took to team radio moments later, shouting: “C’mon guys we need to do something he went straight on.”

However Russell’s engineer came back a second later, adding: “George, we were not ahead.” But, Russell hit back at the decision: “Front wheel to rear wheel is the rule. It’s the rule when you’re attacking. I was definitely front wheel to rear wheel.”

The argument forced team principal Toto Wolff to take the unusual stance of getting involved to calm down his new driver. Wolff snapped back: “George, keep your head down, you can hunt him down.”

READ MORE: Charles Leclerc screams down team radio as Ferrari star crashes out

Russell continued to complain and Wolff had to warn him once more in a bid to cool down tensions. Russell managed to get past Perez at the end of a late Virtual Safety Car period. The Mercedes driver crept up on Perez as the race restarted which allowed him to get a better run out of turn 14 and sweep past on the outside. 

Perez came back at the former Williams driver in the closing stages but Russell was able to hold on to secure his fourth podium of the year. It’s also Mercedes’ first double podium finish of the season with Lewis Hamilton finishing ahead in second. 

Hamilton praised Russell’s overtake on ream radio at the chequered flag. He said: “Great job guys, that’s an incredible result for the team, it just shows all the hard work we’re doing. Let’s keep pushing. Great job George.”  

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Russell was delighted after the race as he revealed he almost lost out to Perez due to a tyre issue. He explained: “I’m sweating and a bit knackered now to be honest.

“The pace was strong but we really struggled with the warm up on that restart and Checo was all over me. I was glad to see that chequered flag and come home with P3. Two podiums for Mercedes is great.”

The team benefited from Charles Leclerc’s accident at turn 11 to secure their best result of the season. Carlos Sainz’s late pitstop also dropped him off the podium which has also helped Mercedes close the gap to the Prancing Horse in the constructors’ standings.

The Silver Arrows now lie just 44 points behind Ferrari heading to the Hungarian Grand Prix next weekend.

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