Mercedes explain what happened between Hamilton and Russell in SQ3 squabble

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton opposite one another in the Mercedes garage. Spain June 2023

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton opposite one another looking at monitors in the Mercedes garage. Spain June 2023

Mercedes chief technical officer Mike Elliott says the team will take “learnings” from the situation which saw George Russell compromise Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for the Belgium sprint.

With a cluster of drivers slowing through the final chicane to make for a perfect start to their final flying lap, by the time Hamilton got to Turn 1 he found himself right on the gearbox of Mercedes team-mate Russell.

He would continue through Eau Rouge/Raidillion stuck behind his team-mate, ruining the lap as Hamilton was forced to settle for P7 on the grid and Russell P10.

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Elliott stressed that Mercedes were far from the only team to see a driver suffer from ending up too close to a car ahead, though having felt the pinch of the clock ticking down, he is “sure there are some learnings” to take from the situation to turn into improvements once Formula 1 awakens from the summer break.

Asked as part of Mercedes’ Belgian GP debrief what happened to the communication with Hamilton and Russell, Elliott replied: “In order to explain that I think I first need to explain how difficult it is to get right in the first place.

“When you’ve got a track that is drying it is nearly always the case the quickest lap is going to be the very last lap of the run and so your first laps are about getting a banker lap in, and then as you get to the end of the session you want to be at the right place so you are just about crossing the line at the end of the session with your tyres in the right window.

“So, we are pretty much heading towards that but what we could see was in the last corners, so in 18 and 19, where you get to open the lap there was a lot of queuing, a lot of cars there, and so we were worried about getting over the line before the session ended.

“And we were asking our drivers to speed up, they thought they had less time available than they really did and as a result of that we ended up with our two cars too close together. recommends

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“As it happened, I think a number of cars were disadvantaged. A number of the cars were far too close together, so we weren’t the only ones that were struggling.

“Unfortunately for us, our two drivers tripping over each other pretty much meant that we didn’t get the laps that we wanted and therefore didn’t get the sprint qualifying result we really hoped for.

“As always we’ll go back, we’ll review the footage, we’ll review the radio communications and we will see what learnings we can extract, work out how we can improve for the future. I am definitely sure there are some learnings we can extract from this weekend.”

Hamilton went on to finish P7 in the sprint with Russell P8, before Grand Prix Sunday yielded a P4 result for Hamilton and P6 for Russell.

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