Mercedes reveal true cause behind Hamilton-Russell Barcelona contact

Henry Valantine
George Russell ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Spain June 2023.

George Russell leads Lewis Hamilton prior to their contact in qualifying. Barcelona June 2023.

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has explained the “miscommunication” that caused George Russell and Lewis Hamilton to make contact in qualifying in Barcelona at the weekend.

Now the dust has settled on the weekend, the team have analysed what happened between their two drivers when Russell appeared to move across on Hamilton on the pit straight as they both started flying laps.

The Mercedes duo made contact, with Hamilton stating Russell’s move across track was “really dangerous” – and Russell and Mercedes were duly given a formal warning by the FIA after the 25-year-old claimed he was not told Hamilton was approaching behind.

With both drivers starting a flying lap at the same time and Hamilton closing up on Russell at a rate of knots, Shovlin revealed that both Mercedes drivers had used the same person, Carlos Sainz, as a reference point to try and gain a tow in order to start their fast lap in Q2.

This led to the confusion that caused them both to be on the same piece of track at the same time, and the team’s trackside engineering director said they will look to see how communication can be improved moving forward to avoid a repeat of such issues in the future.

“Well, put simply, the drivers were trying to find a car finishing the lap in order to get a slingshot starting the lap themselves so that will give them more straight-line speed,” Shovlin explained in Mercedes’ post-race debrief.

“You can find around a tenth, maybe a little bit more on the straight. That car that was finishing then peels in and they can then conduct the rest of the lap in clear air. recommends

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“Now, the issue again, put very simply, was that George and Lewis both tried to pick up Sainz as that slingshot.

“So, Lewis got onto the back of him around Turn 10. As he then came around to start the lap, George was waiting because he knew that Sainz was coming, not realising that Lewis was just behind.

“Now, at the racetrack in Barcelona, we were very keen to make sure we focused on the race itself, not worry about what went wrong in qualifying.

“But now that we’re back here at the factory, we’ll sit down we’ll look at how we need to change our communication to make sure that we don’t confuse the drivers by not giving them the whole picture.”

The weekend ended on a happy note for Mercedes, however, with Russell recovering from a P12 grid slot to finish third, ending up behind Hamilton as the pair took their first double podium of the 2023 season in the upgraded W14.