Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has downplayed the tense radio exchanges involving George Russell during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

The German marque endured a torrid race at Interlagos, stymied by a compromised set-up choice and excessive tyre degradation hampering both of the team’s drivers.

While Lewis Hamilton would tumble down the order to an eighth-place finish, George Russell retired in the closing stages amid concerns over his power unit overheating.

But earlier in the race, Russell had been agitated behind his team-mate. After stating he would not attack Hamilton in the opening laps, Russell then complained that he was “having to push too hard in [Turn] 11 and 12” to keep up, before adding “I either overtake or he needs to manage more through there.”

Having progressively dropped away from Hamilton, Russell was told by his race engineer, Ricardo Musconi, to manage his tyres, to which the Briton responded “Do you want to race or concede positions? You want more management, or we go backwards.”

However, Wolff asserts he sees no problem with Russell’s frustrated radio messages, citing that understanding the Brackley squad’s lacklustre pace is more important.

I think the race and the messages are completely irrelevant,” Wolff addressed. “There was nothing to manage or to say, it’s a complete side-show.

“The fundamental issue is the car was slow. So I have no problem with things being broadcast. Whether it’s controversial or not if there’s no performance like that then who cares.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 leads George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. 05.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Race Day.

Last weekend’s grand prix in Brazil wasn’t the first time Russell has vocally lamented spending a prolonged period in a race behind Hamilton in the sister Mercedes car.

The Japanese Grand Prix in September witnessed Russell vent his annoyance at being forced off the track by Hamilton before the pair then collided at Turn 1 in Qatar.

Looking ahead to the next round, Wolff concedes that he is unable to assess how strong Mercedes will be in the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix after its sudden slump.

“I’m not sure. I don’t know what to expect. You can see those swings. If you’d asked me last weekend, ‘Yeah, we go to Brazil, and this is going to be awesome’. And now we’re going to a track that we haven’t even been to, so I don’t know,” he explained.

Despite Mercedes only scoring a pitiful four points on Sunday in Sao Paulo, Charles Leclerc’s failure to make the start saw Ferrari only gain two points with Carlos Sainz sixth.

Mercedes possess a 20-point advantage over its Italian counterparts in the battle for second place in the Constructors’ Championship with two rounds remaining.

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