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Wolff admits Mercedes had ‘short dream’ of victory in Montreal after Russell’s strong start

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MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 08: Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff looks on in the Pitlane after

Toto Wolff has conceded that Mercedes briefly had hopes of achieving victory in the Canadian Grand Prix amid George Russell’s strong start to the race, but insists the team are still happy with his podium finish – and "mustn't be too greedy".

With Russell claiming only the second pole position of his career so far in Saturday’s qualifying, the Briton made a clean getaway when the lights went out and led for the opening 20 laps of the race, before being overtaken by the McLaren of Lando Norris.

READ MORE: Russell rues ‘missed opportunity’ in Canada but hails Mercedes' first podium of the season after P3 result

He then lost a further position to Max Verstappen and, after an eventful race which included close battles with Oscar Piastri and team mate Lewis Hamilton, Russell eventually crossed the line in P3. The 26-year-old later stated that he felt the Grand Prix was a “missed opportunity”.

Asked during a post-race chat with Sky Sports F1 if he believed a win could have been on the cards for Russell, Wolff responded: “A victory was maybe a long-shot or short dream.

"When George was on the hard [tyre and] was catching up and had really strong pace, maybe for a second we thought about it, but you mustn’t be too greedy.”

2024 Canadian Grand Prix: Pole-sitter Russell leads away from Verstappen on the wet race start in Montreal

Russell also admitted to making some errors during the 70-lap encounter and, while Wolff agreed that this may have been the case, the Team Principal was keen to focus on the development that Mercedes displayed during the weekend.

“Alongside this brilliance in today’s race, on the other side maybe there was one or two [mistakes] that we could have avoided,” Wolff added. “But we need to take the positives. The car has made a real step forward with bringing bits and the development direction is true.”

READ MORE: Hamilton laments ‘one of my worst drives’ as Canada victory challenge slips through his fingers

As well as Russell’s comments about his own mistakes, team mate Lewis Hamilton was also self-critical following the Grand Prix. The seven-time world champion slipped backwards in the latter stages, going from being in contention for a podium to a final result of fourth.

Hamilton went on to label his visit to the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve as “one of my worst drives that I’ve had”. When speaking further to the media later on, Wolff was quizzed on whether he felt the drivers were being too hard on themselves.

“I think when you finish third and fourth [from] where we have been coming from then it’s a positive race,” the Austrian said. “Three and four is much better than we had previously in the last few races, so that’s good.

2024 Canadian Grand Prix: Russell takes back P3 from Hamilton to seal podium finish

“But I think both drivers saw that more was up [for the taking], we could have maybe gained a position or two, and that’s why there is a kind of negative sentiment that pervades. But if you would have given them third and fourth before the weekend [we] probably would have taken it.”

With the weekend looking to have perhaps been a turning point for Mercedes after a challenging start to the campaign, Wolff is hopeful that the squad can continue this progress amid further upgrades arriving at the forthcoming Spanish Grand Prix.

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action from a dramatic Canadian Grand Prix as Verstappen takes victory ahead of Norris

“I think definitely since Imola we’ve taken the right steps and put parts on the car that were working,” he said. “That is something that we were struggling with in the past couple of years.

“We have new parts coming in Barcelona. That should help us, so I would very much hope that we can continue this positive trajectory.”

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