Austrian Grand Prix winner George Russell revealed a near-miss in the closing stages of the race, thanks to a well-meaning but poorly timed message from Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

Russell capitalized on the dramatic clash between Max Verstappen and Lando Norris to snatch the lead with just a handful of laps remaining.

With five laps to go and his head down, focused on maintaining his lead to the checkered flag, Wolff’s booming voice suddenly bellowed over the radio: “YOU CAN WIN THIS!”

Overcome by the unexpected winning opportunity, the Austrian felt compelled to convey his enthusiastic encouragement. Unfortunately, the message came just as Russell was approaching a crucial corner.

Under heavy braking, the Briton was understandably startled and retorted with a curt, “LET HIM DRIVE!”

Recounting the moment after the race, Russell explained how the final laps had unfolded under the sudden surge of adrenaline.

“The pace felt strong,” he said. “The problem I had, Lewis [Hamilton] attacked me early in the race. But then once I got back past him, I got a bit of a gap to Carlos [Sainz].

“I knew Oscar [Piastri] was going to be quick and he sort of came a little bit out of nowhere towards the end of the race.

“On those hard tyres for me was pretty difficult. And then suddenly I had Toto screaming in my ear, ‘You can win this!’


“I almost crashed when he screamed into my ears, it was that loud, but I think it just goes to show the passion that we all share.

“It’s obviously been a tough couple of years for us, so it feels great to be back on the top step.”

While his heart was clearly in the right place but his finger a little too quick on the radio button, Wolff admitted he had totally messed up.

He hadn’t checked where Russell was on the track before blasting him with his supportive message.

“That was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done, I have to say. I didn’t look where he was at all,” Wolff admitted to Sky Germany.

“I just saw the two of them crash into each other. It’s the first time that’s happened to me in twelve years. He’s fully on the brakes at 320 km/h and I tell him that the two of them have collided.

“I have to think about it first.”

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