George Russell openly questions Lewis Hamilton’s Bahrain Grand Prix set-up claims

Oliver Harden
Lewis Hamilton speaks to the media at the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix with a prominent Mercedes badge alongside him

2024 will be Lewis Hamilton's final season with Mercedes before he heads to Ferrari

George Russell has openly questioned Lewis Hamilton’s claims over his chosen set-up at the Bahrain Grand Prix, claiming the two Mercedes cars were actually “pretty similar.”

Having announced last month that he will join Ferrari for 2025, Hamilton’s final season as a Mercedes driver got off to a muted start at the 2024 season opener in Bahrain.

George Russell doubts Lewis Hamilton setup claims

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

While Russell claimed third on the grid with a lap just three tenths short of Max Verstappen’s time for pole position, Hamilton could only manage ninth on the grid, more than two tenths slower than his Mercedes team-mate.

Russell and Hamilton went on to come home fifth and seventh respectively on race day, with Mercedes forced to manage overhearing issues having elected for an unsuitable cooling configuration with temperatures in Sakhir higher than anticipated on race day.

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher after qualifying, Hamilton indicated that he and Russell had taken different set-up directions with the seven-time World Champion’s chosen path better suited to race conditions.

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“[On Thursday] during my work, we were doing identical car setups, and I was feeling great,” Hamilton said.

“We veered off – he went one way, and I went the other. You could say that the one I was on is not good on a single lap, but I hope it’s good in the race.

“I wasn’t comfortable with my race pace [in practice].

“So I changed the car to hopefully make the race pace better but we’ll see if that’s really the case.”

Put to him after the race that his team-mate chose a different setup, however, Russell argued that the Mercedes cars were in a similar ballpark with set-up – with his own better suit to race conditions.

He told media including PlanetF1.com: “Many people have said this.

“I don’t really know the big differences, to be honest, because as far as I’m aware with the cars we’re pretty similar.

“I don’t really focus too much on his set-up. Mine was actually more set up for the race than the set-up he ran. At least it was on Friday [for qualifying].”

Russell stands as the last driver to win a race for Mercedes, having claimed his maiden F1 victory at the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.

Hamilton, meanwhile, remains without a win since the penultimate round of the 2021 season in Saudi Arabia, with the Jeddah circuit set to host the second race of the 2024 campaign this Saturday.

Read next: Bahrain Grand Prix conclusions: F1’s growing Red Bull problem, Alpine disaster