Wolff on possible tension between Russell & Hamilton: 'I can imagine it'

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff can "imagine" tension might exist between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

According to a rumour in Bahrain, the seven-time world champion hasn't spoken to the Williams driver since Russell's impressive performance standing in for Hamilton at last year's Sakhir Grand Prix.

Asked if that was true, Wolff said he didn't know, but admits he wouldn't be surprised if that race did change their relationship.

"This is the first time I have heard this, the feelings of my drivers are the last thing on my mind," he told Austria's Sport24.

"I can imagine it though because the competition between these two is very strong. The big boys always feel it when a good guy comes along, and Russell is the next generation.''

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Of course, this comes as the possibility remains that Hamilton and Russell could be teammates at Mercedes in 2022.

And former Red Bull driver Alex Albon predicts the Briton would push Lewis hard in the same team.

“There has been a lot of talk over the winter about Lewis Hamilton potentially winning his eighth title,” he wrote in GQ.

“People are surprised he’s only signed a one-year deal at Mercedes, but I don’t read too much into contract talk and speculation.

“He will be highly motivated and Red Bull plan to bring the fight this year, which is going to make it harder, for sure. Only he knows if this will be his last season in F1.

“It’s my view that if my friend George Russell was to partner Lewis at Mercedes next year he could really challenge him.”

But Wolff also admits a strong relationship between drivers will be essential to any future Mercedes line-up.

“If the debriefing room is full of negativity because the two drivers are hostile with each other, then that will spill over into the energy into the room and that is not something I will ever allow again," he told the High Performance podcast, reflecting on Hamilton's rivalry with Nico Rosberg.

“That’s why it is something we are looking at – how do the drivers work with each other, what happens in the case of failure of one and the other.

“We accept the annoyance and pain if it goes against one, but we are trying still to keep the positive dynamic in the team.”