The collision of Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton was one of the most contentious moments of the Qatar Grand Prix.
At the start of Sunday’s race in Lusail, the long-threatened collision between the two Mercedes drivers occurred, with Lewis Hamilton making a stormer of a getaway from third place on the grid to line-up alongside George Russell and Max Verstappen into Turn 1.
With Hamilton having opted for the soft tyre against the other two on mediums, he tried to use his superior grip to sail around the outside, but cut in too early to tag his team-mate’s left front-wheel – causing both to spin out, with Hamilton retiring on the spot.
Richard Bradley: The situation at Mercedes could have been managed better
Former Le Mans 24 Hours LMP2 winner Richard Bradley, appearing on the On Track GP podcast, was asked about the incident, which initially had both Hamilton and Russell getting on team radio to point the finger of blame at each other.
With Russell continuing in the race, recovering to fourth at the chequered flag, Hamilton’s time on the sidelines gave him the chance to watch the replays and hold his hands up as responsible for causing the collision.
“I think it was an interesting one,” Bradley said.
“Because we had first-hand evidence from the Sprint on Saturday just how effective the soft was at the beginning of the race. I mean, it was massively faster than the medium. Plus, also, we had the drop-off. Now there’s absolutely no question that Lewis squeezed George and didn’t leave George enough room. Absolutely. No question.”
But while Bradley believed Hamilton’s actions on track were to blame for the collision, he said Russell could have driven with more circumspect.
“I think that it was still going to be a long shot for George to be able to overtake Verstappen,” he said.
“George could have backed out of that, slotted in behind Verstappen, and then waited for Lewis and Verstappen to have their inevitable side-by-side battle, and then maybe pick up the pieces.
“So, whilst it was 100 per cent Lewis’ fault, and he left George with no option, I do think that George could have looked maybe at the bigger picture. This 100 per cent would have been discussed in a strategy meeting before the race. Whenever you have team-mates starting near each other, you always always talk about various scenarios.
“As I said, 100 per cent Lewis’ fault, but I expect, as a bigger picture, the situation could have been managed a little bit better.”
‘Why did George Russell put himself in that position?’
Podcast presenter Rachael Downie weighed in on the topic as well, saying that she felt Russell should have been more aware of a plan of action to let Hamilton ahead as quickly as possible.
“Hamilton, being the sportsman that he is, has come out and apologised,” she said.
“But, and there is a big but here, Lewis started on softs. The incident here starts before the contact. Surely the team had some kind of strategy meeting and George knew ‘Okay, if Lewis is starting on softs, he’s going to be faster off from the start’.
“I don’t understand – why did Russell put himself in that position? I do find Russell a little bit arrogant if I’m absolutely honest.
“He goes on about ‘It’s for the team’, but I don’t think it is. But then you look at when it was, say Hamilton and Alonso back in the day, I see a lot of in George Russell and Hamilton at the start when it’s got that aggression.
“Since then, there’s been reports that there was a strategy meeting. So, therefore, did George not take that on board? I guess we’ll never really know because things do seem like they are falling apart slightly within Mercedes.”