Hamilton and Russell were seeking tow from Sainz when they collided – Mercedes

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Mercedes have shed further light on the bizarre collision between its two drivers which occured during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

George Russell was given a formal warning by the stewards after making contact with his team mate Lewis Hamilton on the pit straight. The pair were overtaking Carlos Sainz Jnr’s Ferrari at the time.

The team’s head of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin said the incident occured because both drivers were trying to use Sainz’s car to get a slipstream to improve their lap times.

“The drivers were trying to find a car finishing a lap in order to get a slingshot starting the lap themselves,” said Shovlin in a video released by the team. “So that will give them more straight-line speed.

“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.”

However the two Mercedes drivers were using different approaches to prepare their tyres before beginning a lap. Hamilton caught up to Sainz from behind while Russell was further ahead and dropped back, which put them on a collision course.

“The issue was that George and Lewis both tried to pick up Sainz as that slingshot,” said Shovlin. “So Lewis got onto the back of him around turn 10. As he then came round to start the lap, George was waiting because he knew that Sainz was coming, not realising that Lewis was just behind.”

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The team waited until after Sunday’s race to begin looking into what went wrong, said Shovlin. “At the race track in Barcelona, we were very keen to make sure we focussed on the race itself, not worry about what went wrong in qualifying.

“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 two drivers brushed off the incident quickly, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff told media including RaceFans at the track on Saturday. “They didn’t even mention it,” he said. “I just had a chat with George about the car, there was not a minute of talking about the incident.”

He dismissed comparisons between the clash, which did not end either driver’s participation in qualifying, and the first-lap collision between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the same circuit seven years earlier.

“It wasn’t shades of 2016,” said Wolff. “I wish we would be the situation of 2016 where we were losing both cars in lap one because we were so quick and fighting for a win. At the end, it’s a trivial incident that just looked silly.”

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2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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    13 comments on “Hamilton and Russell were seeking tow from Sainz when they collided – Mercedes”

    1. Regardless of how the incident came about, I think it made both drivers look pretty bad. Russell apparently had not looked in his mirrors once for the entire straight, and Hamilton was racing his team mate when it looked obvious, even if he had not already known, that Russell was not on a slow-down lap.

      I’m a Hamilton fan, btw, so I was happy they both got away with it.

    2. I think Hamilton’s original explanation makes more sense. He thought George was giving him a tow and his position bears that out. George then moved right making Hamilton think the towing was done, and then George moved back to the left colliding with Hamilton who was overtaking him. As Hamilton was directly behind George and getting a tow, I don’t see how they could then say he was trying to get a tow from Sainz.

      1. Half of the confusion is all the analysis done by Sky and other broadcasters over the course of the race weekend never bothered to look at enough video footage from before the incident actually happened. They all simply analysed everything as they both entered the start-finish straight.

        As mentioned by Shovlin, Hamilton had actually started following Sainz through the last 4 or 5 corners in preparation to get a tow as he started his own lap. However, Russell was loitering very slowly between the last two corners waiting for somebody to come past. As Sainz flew past, Russell cut back onto the racing line to grab a tow not realising that Hamilton was literally right behind him.

        As Russell was loitering and then floored it, his speed entering the start-finish straight was much lower than Hamilton’s, hence the huge speed differential between the two.

        There’s now some videos on YouTube that actually show the build up to the incident.

        1. @cdavman Also the fact Russell didn’t bother checking his mirrors (as he admitted) before swooping round Sainz. And Mercedes failing to warn him what was happening.

        2. It doesn’t look like Hamilton was following Sainz at all.


          1. @bassclef unfortunately you’ve fallen for the same set of clips that keep doing the rounds. None of which go back early enough to see the build up to the event…

            Try this one:

            Watch it all the way through to see the build up to the incident.

      2. Hamilton had been following Sainz from much earlier. Russell was ahead of both of them going very slowly until Sainz went past him and he suddenly drove to the racing line and wedged himself between Sainz and Hamilton which is the reason Hamilton was already so close to Russell as they entered the start finish straight.

    3. This is a bit confusing, and now even more so with the extra input. I didn’t see the event when it happened, but I thought that Sanz was coming out of the pits at the time. Both Mercs were on the straight, wouldn’t they have already been going faster and past Sanz before they would see any benefit. Also not sure how Lewis would have got a tow from George, when approach and his rate of speed was so much faster. And finally, you certainly don’t want to second guess anyone at that time but if George was on a hot lap he seemed not to be going nearly as fast as he could, and probably should have been looking in his mirrors if he wasn’t.

      1. During qualifying it was briefly shown as Russell allowed Sainz past and immediately chopped in front of Hamilton as the were in the series of right handers before the start finish straight. For some reason the broadcasters refused to show the clip during the replays as it would have explained how both Mercedes drivers found themselves in that situation.

        To make it easier to understand, Russell was driving ahead of Hamilton as they prepared to start their qualifying lap.
        The exact gap between them I can’t exactly say. Hamilton probably at some point allowed Sainz who was on a timed lap to go past him and latched unto his tail to get the tow. What he didn’t know was that Russell who was still further ahead of both of them wanted to also wait for Sainz to go past so he could get the tow.
        Sainz and Hamilton were now going at a reasonable pace as they approached the last corner. Russell then saw Sainz coming and slowed down enough to let him past then immediately switched to the racing line to take the tow from Zainz.
        Hamilton who already had the tow from Sainz thus a greater momentum when Russell moved over to the racing line, suddenly was very close to Russell and having greater momentum. Russells start was alread compromised because he was going much slower down the start finish straight and was also giving Hamilton a tow which is why they were aleady side by side long before the end of the straight.

        Did the team know what Russell was planning then they didn’t manage it well because Hamilton would not know Russell had not started his timed lap they could have warned Hamilton. They could also have warned Russell because he could have allowed both cars past and got an even better tow.

    4. This was entirely Mercedes’ fault for failing to notify BOTH drivers that they were both going for a hot lap. You can blame Russell for not looking in his mirror, but he trusted his radio. You can blame Lewis for not realizing that George was on a hot lap too, but the way that this unfolded in the last corner with Sainz in between, there was no reason for him to believe that his teammate wasn’t moving over the right to give him a tow. Bad Mercedes communication.

    5. isthatglock21
      8th June 2023, 20:26

      Onus was still on Russell to check mirrors. No driver like Hamilton would ever back off on a straight when starting a fast lap in quali when they see a clear gap & path ahead. Either way rare situation, but Russell escaped punishment cause it was his teammate, same with Ocon-Gasly in Melbourne.

    6. The real surprise was when Russell didn’t immediately get on the radio and tell the team that Hamilton needs to let him by because he’s faster, or he’s got a penalty, or the sun is in his eyes, or some other stupid reason.

    7. I’m actually excited for the Merc/RB battle this year.

      Fastest laps both on the last stint.

      Max 1.16.3
      Perez 1.16.6
      Ham 1.16.6
      Rus 1.17.8

      Rus 1.2 sec slower than Ham and pushing as well with Perez behind him.

      I think Ham looks ready to challenge Max and definitely in the mix Vs Perez

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