Toto Wolff details how Bottas’ exit and Russell’s entry came about

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Toto Wolff says he “didn’t commit to George before I knew that Valtteri had found a good place”, and he told George: “I will do the same for you”.

Valtteri Bottas departed Mercedes at the end of 2022, after five years with the team. Team boss Toto Wolff now reveals he didn’t confirm George Russell’s drive, until Valtteri had found a seat with Alfa Romeo.

“For myself, I knew pretty early that I wanted to have George in the car,” the Austrian told Channel 4.

“But I didn’t commit to George before I knew that Valtteri had found a good place I didn’t communicate to anybody outside because that is the respect I have for people that that I care about.

“And when Valtteri’s deal was done over August, over the break period, then I went back to George and told him: ‘You’re in, we want you to be in the car’, knowing that Valtteri had his place.

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“And I said to George, because obviously it was a long period for him to wait. I said: ‘I will do the same for you’, and that I think he understood.”

Toto also revealed he believes it was good for Bottas to race for a new team.

“I think that it was also a good moment for Valtteri to leave the team because the pressure was enormous on him.

“He didn’t want to be a wingman, and I think having released him from that pressure, now he’s racing completely different at Alfa Romeo.

“He seems also happier for me, rather than this pressure cooker at Mercedes,” Wolff concluded.

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