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Toto Wolff has weighed in on Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s row at Mercedes ahead of the Australian Grand Prix. The Austrian boss clarified that the pair are free to choose their own set-ups with the team not instructing their stars to go one way or the other.
It comes after Russell appeared to bite back at Hamilton after the seven-time champion suggested he got lucky in Saudi Arabia. Wolff told Sky Sports: “I think the drivers got to do what they believe is right for their car.
“Everyone is pursuing the set-up directions and that changes between Friday and Saturday very often. Then you realise that one set-up is maybe better than the other one.
“But it’s not that we are coming up with set-ups that they have to run.” Hamilton finished behind Russell in Saudi Arabia as the Silver Arrows struggled for pace for the second weekend running.
However, after the chequered flag, the seven-times champion claimed it was a simple 50/50 choice around the direction to take the car. The 38-year-old then remarked he went the right way “more often than not” in a dig at Russell.
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However, the ex-Williams star fired back in Australia as he suggested his success in beating Hamilton was more down to skill. He commented: “I don’t think there’s any luck in it at all. I think it’s down to the preparation you put in before the event.
“The changes we made overnight [after practice], I knew that was going to be the right direction with the work we did with the team, and I believed it was going to be better than the set-up that Lewis opted for.”
The duo appeared to disagree again on Friday morning after the first two hours of running at Albert Park. Hamilton said he was more confident in FP1 as he finished P2 just behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
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Meanwhile, Russell praised his team for making improvements between the two sessions. The 25-year-old finished P4 as Hamilton struggled to 14th in the changeable wet/dry conditions.
Wolff appeared to back up Hamilton’s points over the importance of set-ups as he clarified the difference on Friday between the two drivers.
He explained: “We tried two different things on both cars. It worked on one car, not on the other. So it’s a good direction that we’ve got.”
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