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Wolff Explains Decision Against Team Orders at Imola Despite Russell’s Request: A Deep Dive into Mercedes’ Strategy and Season Struggles

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Toto Wolff discusses the reasons behind Mercedes' decision to decline George Russell's plea for team orders in Imola.

Toto Wolff is of the opinion that Lewis Hamilton could have potentially surpassed George Russell in the race if Russell hadn't gone in for a second pit stop during the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, which is the reason the team decided not to implement team orders towards the race's conclusion.

Russell stood out as the sole racer among the leading 10 to finish the race employing a strategy of two pit stops.

Consequently, Russell fell back, ending up behind Hamilton on the circuit due to Mercedes executing a driver swap.

During a pit stop, Russell asked if Mercedes planned to instruct Hamilton to return the sixth position at the race's conclusion, considering he had been leading for most of it.

Nonetheless, Hamilton and Russell held onto their sixth and seventh places, respectively.

Wolff clarified that Russell's decision to pit for a second time was made as a precautionary measure.

"Wolff mentioned they hadn't communicated. He noted that the pace was dropping progressively. According to their predictions then, he wouldn't have finished the race. They aimed to maintain their lead over Perez, hence the decision."

"The prediction fell short by three to four laps for completion."

Wolff believes that even without a second pit stop, Hamilton was likely to surpass Russell in the race.

"He likely would have chosen him regardless," he further stated.

"The essence of the matter is that our goal was to compete for the sixth and seventh positions. Our minimum objective was to ensure we stayed ahead of the Red Bull. The decision was made with safety in mind."

Mercedes' lackluster performance persisted into the 2024 season, evident at the Imola race.

This signifies that Mercedes has not secured a podium position in the first seven rounds, a situation that hasn't occurred since 2011.

Mercedes is introducing improvements to their vehicle, yet their overall performance level has stayed relatively unchanged.

"Wolff stated that progress is being made toward the desired state for the car."

"We're trailing the fastest competitors by 30 seconds, which is significant. Finishing in sixth and seventh place isn't something to boast about. You can detect the irritation in my tone."

"More advancements are on the horizon. We're focusing on making small, yet significant improvements. That's the nature of the game."

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