Dragging Oscar Piastri into the top ten in Friday’s qualifying at the Baku circuit, Sky Sports pundit Naomi Schiff doubts it was “intentional” on Lewis Hamilton’s part to eliminate George Russell.
Russell finished Friday evening’s qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix down in 11th place, the Briton missing out on a Q3 berth by 0.004s having been pipped to P10 by Hamilton.
However, it could have been a different story had Hamilton not given the tow to McLaren driver Piastri, the Aussie using that to leapfrog both Mercedes drivers with the ninth fastest time of the session.
But it’s not one for the conspiracy theorists to jump on with Schiff saying it was just a case of the drivers’ positioning on the track.
“I doubt that was intentional,” the Sky Sports pundit said according to F1-Insider.
“The timing of when you hit the lead man here is of course very important on this track.”
Russell was naturally disappointed to miss out on Q3 but admits his W14 just didn’t have the pace on Friday.
“We’re not fast enough this weekend, obviously, or I would have been in Q3,” Russell told the media.
“I was giving it everything, the lap was strong. I made a mistake at the last corner and it might have just crept me into Q3 but I don’t think we’d have been any higher than P8.
“It’s a funny sport this one, you can go from qualifying on the front row in Australia to myself being out in Q2 and Lewis just getting through in P10.”
The 25-year-old isn’t expecting much better when the drivers return to the track on Saturday for the first-ever sprint shootout that will set the grid for the afternoon’s sprint race.
“I think right now, we wouldn’t really know what to change to find the pace we need around this track,” he added.
“It’s definitely a unique one and is definitely an outlier. Compared to the first three races we’ve been to. I see no reason why we can’t fight back on Sunday.”