Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has commented on whether George Russell will be free to race Sir Lewis Hamilton next year.
Russell will replace Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes car at the end of 2021 – and many in the F1 paddock are expecting the young Brit to be closer to Hamilton than Bottas has been over the last few years.
Wolff has previously said that Mercedes want to avoid a repeat of the tensions they had between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, particularly in 2016.
Speaking this week, the Austrian said Russell won’t be forced to “hold back while driving”, but there “are certain boundaries within the team that must be respected.”
“George Russell is another intelligent young man,” said Wolff.
“He will slot into the team but that doesn’t mean he has to hold back when driving. You can’t expect a lion in the car and a puppy out of it.
“But there are certain boundaries within the team that must be respected and George knows them very well.
“Once the lights are green, only the drivers are responsible. I can’t interfere, manage or remote-control them, but one thing is of ultimate importance – don’t touch. That’s your responsibility. You can race hard, but no contact.”
Continuing, Wolff touched upon the tensions between Hamilton and Rosberg, and he insisted we won’t see a repeat of that “animosity” with Russell.
“I’ve been there before with Nico when it wasn’t just a rivalry,” Wolff added.
“There was a lot of animosity and that’s not going to happen.
“This is about showing respect for each other and it can be hard because if you race on the same spot on the racetrack you will eventually come across each other, but there is an integrity we expect that nobody is ever bigger than the team.
“The drivers know that. You represent 2,000 people who work for us and 350,000 people who work for Mercedes. So again, you are the solar system and Mercedes the star — and that’s the sun,” he concluded.