TOTO WOLFF admitted 'it can get heated' between Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

Russell, 24, has enjoyed a strong debut season with the team and is one spot ahead of Hamilton in the driver standings.

But despite being 19 points behind the youngster, the seven-time champ has found form by making three third-places in a row.

Last week Russell denied claims suggesting his season will be a success if he simply beats his veteran team-mate.

Team principal Wolff admitted "it can get heated" in competition, despite the duo performing well of late.

He told Sky Sports F1: "They [Hamilton and Russell] are very good. I think they understand that enemy No1 is a car that's not performing like it should.


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"We need to get there but their personalities, their characters, their mindset is very special.

"Even if it can get heated because the competition is on and we allowed it, overarching that is always going to be the good character.

"Nothing vicious, nothing underhand. That's what's happening between the two.

"I'm sure behind closed doors there will be discussions but that's what you expect from racing drivers.

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"You don't want to have a lion in the car and a puppy outside.

"Their characters are good, their personalities are good, we all know what we need to achieve."

At the start of the season, the British drivers struggled to adapt to life in the W13, with porpoising issues heavily impacting the car's race pace.

Hamilton revealed his car is getting back to it's best as the team worked hard to turn things around at the Austrian GP.

The Mercedes boss lauded the recent run of results, closing in on Ferrari in the constructor standings.

Wolff added: "It's actually good because we're starting to see that we're chipping away at the leaders which is really important.

"We find ourselves in a situation which we've always discussed, after eight consecutive titles that series is going to break and we want to make it a blip, not a longer cycle.

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"We just need to continue to grind away. The porpoising is still not completely solved but we're getting there.

"The French Grand Prix should be OK, it's a smooth circuit a little bit like Silverstone with fast corners. It looks like we can have a good performance there."

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