Toto Wolff says Mercedes doesn’t want to have a driver who doesn’t have the ambition to “win races and championships early”.
“We would be satisfied if he would be in the top three, in terms of the car package, competing for victories,” the Austrian told Sky Sports F1.
“That is always our ambition that we are right there. Over the long-term, this is the winning recipe and if we have a car that can develop that we are actually able to go for the championship, then absolutely.
“He has the same car as Lewis and he has the pace. In qualifying, he is very fast and I’m sure it is going to be fine.”
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Russell recently said Mercedes had promised him equal treatment with Hamilton from his first season with the team. Toto Wolff explains this decision.
“You also have to respect the other guy’s perspective and ambition,” he said.
“We are not going to put a driver in the car who is not going to have the ambition to do as good as possible, to kick his team-mate as hard as he can, win races and championships early and that is clear.
“So I can put myself into his perspective. I am trying to discuss with him what that will mean for the team dynamic, what it could mean, how we need to keep momentum in the team.
“He is very intelligent and he gets that,” concluded the Austrian.