‘Chink in the armour’ of George Russell identified against Lewis Hamilton

Michelle Foster
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton smiling in pre-season photo call. Bahrain February 2023

Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton smiling in pre-season photo call. Bahrain February 2023

George Russell still suffers with “some little drop the ball moments”, that’s according to David Coulthard who says the Briton is “not the complete finished article” just yet.

Although Russell bagged his first podium result of this season at the Spanish Grand Prix, the Briton bringing his Mercedes W14 home in third place behind his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, it was by no means a perfect weekend.

Not only did he clash with Hamilton in qualifying, leaving the latter with a broken front wing, but he also went off into the gravel on his way to the grid for Sunday’s race.

It was the first incident, thought, that caught Coulthard’s attention.

Putting in the laps at the end of Q2, Hamilton got a tow off Russell and, with his incredible closing speed, went to pass his team-mate down the outside heading into Turn 1 only for Russell to move left and close the door.

The contact broke Hamilton’s front wing while the seven-time World Champion was fortunate to avoid a bigger accident as he puts wheels onto the grass. Hamilton still managed to get into Q3 but Russell was out of qualifying, down in 12th place.

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“George has still got a little chink in his armour,” Coulthard told Channel 4. “That late movement in qualifying where they had contact, if you remember he’s had some little drop the ball moments.

“He’s not the complete finished article yet. He’s pretty close.

“But Lewis Hamilton when he’s back, he’s back.”

And with Hamilton clearly back on form in Spain, another former driver turned pundit, Ralf Schumacher, has questioned whether Russell deliberately closed the door on his team-mate.

“George didn’t want to give Lewis a slipstream and closed the door,” said the Sky Sports pundit. “This is my analysis. The young challenger wants to replace the top dog.”

Russell escaped with nothing more than a warning for Saturday’s collision, the Briton telling the BBC Chequered Flag podcast that it was “just a big miscommunication.

“[There was] a lot of traffic on the out lap, and I was just trying to take the slipstream from Carlos, and next thing Lewis was there.

“So yeah fortunate nothing big happened but just a bit disappointed to be out in Q2.”

He followed up that mistake with another on Sunday as he went off the track and into the gravel at Turn Five as he made his way to the grid.

But while Nico Rosberg said that was “very unusual”, the Mercedes was quick to downplay his mistake.

“It’s the time to do it, just trying some white lines, because obviously when you’re racing you’re often not on the racing line,” he told Sky F1.

“So not a lot of grip there, hopefully not too many of the other drivers saw what happened to me and that [doesn’t] happen to them on lap one.”