Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted that coming to grips with the Mercedes W13 has been the biggest challenge that has been faced by both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell this year.
However, with Mercedes close to finding a solution ahead of the start of the second half of the season, Wolff believes that tensions between the two drivers could soon run high.
Mercedes had started the season with plenty of optimism when they initially showed off their new challenger.
the team’s “zero sidepod” design was seen as a game-changer in terms of car innovation and many believed they would convincingly romp to another constructors’ title.
However, this couldn’t have been further off the truth as the Silver Arrows ended up playing second fiddle to the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari, with Hamilton and Russell regularly involved in midfield battles.
Recent weeks have been better for Mercedes though, as Hamilton has picked up five consecutive podium finishes and Russell has also displayed great consistency in his endeavours behind the wheel.
The team is still without a win all season though, but that is likely to be addressed as soon as the summer break gets over and Mercedes is able to unload its upgrade.
Wolff predicts unrest between Hamilton and Russell
Wolff is happy that both Hamilton and Russell have remained committed to finding success despite not having the best car to work with, but believes there could be a potential rift between the two once they line up after the break.
“I think the biggest opponent for George and Lewis was the car, not the teammate or other drivers,” he told Motorsport.com Italy.
“And this, to answer the question, has certainly been beneficial in some respects.
“They used different solutions and setups, even a lot on some occasions, with the aim of exchanging impressions and useful information to get out of the situation we experienced.
“When the objectives become races and championships, I will be able to tell you if the respect I see today between the two will remain a predominant factor.
“When playing for the highest stakes I think it’s natural to have a bit of tension, but if people basically respect and value each other, then it will never go beyond what is allowed.”
Hamilton and Russell guaranteed big upgrade to W13
Mercedes engineer Andrew Shovlin has already promised big updates to both Hamilton and Russell as Mercedes looks to claw its way back up the Constructors’ standings.
“This last [double podium] was particularly satisfying because we weren’t relying on the misfortune of anyone dropping out with a reliability problem,” Shovlin said.
“The car pace was also very good, and it is always nice to have a good race before you go into that period of holiday.
“The most satisfying thing though is to see where the car is in terms of pace now in qualifying and in the race.
“We had a lot of ground to make up from the start of the year, we’ve been working really hard trying to bring bits to every race.
“It is really satisfying now to see that we are racing with the Ferraris, with the Red Bulls right to the front.”