George Russell, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2024

Why Russell complained about Hamilton’s tactics at start of Q3

Formula 1

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Mercedes achieved their best combined starting positions of the season so far in Spain but George Russell wasn’t entirely happy how their session went.

He complained about Lewis Hamilton’s tactics when the pair began their first laps in Q3. After completing his first run he asked his race engineer Marcus Dudley: “What the fuck was Lewis doing prepping that lap?”

“We’ll talk about it afterwards,” his race engineer replied. “Head in the game.”

Russell’s preparation for his first run may have been compromised by Hamilton slowing ahead of him as they completed their out-lap. However the pair were being caught by drivers behind them on flying laps, and Hamilton would have risked a penalty had he not moved out of their way.

Several drivers were also trying to take advantage of the opportunity presented by starting a lap immediately behind a car which was completing one. By using the slipstream of another car through the final corner and onto the start/finish straight, a driver could gain a useful speed boost. Max Verstappen did this when his team mate Sergio Perez completed his final lap in Q3.

In the case of the Mercedes drivers, Hamilton led Russell out of the garage and around their out-lap. As they reached the final sector, Esteban Ocon caught Russell, and the Mercedes driver let him by at the exit of turn 12.

Hamilton was nearing the end of his lap at this point and faced the option of committing to start it – and potentially getting in Ocon’s way, or letting the Alpine through and trying to use its slipstream. He chose the latter, but had to slow down significantly through the final two corners. He picked up the throttle in time to chase Ocon through the final corner and across the line, where the Alpine driver immediately backed off and pulled off the racing line.

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When Russell rounded the penultimate corner he could see Ocon ahead on the racing line and Hamilton letting him by. He had no option but to slow down as well, but he now had Carlos Sainz Jnr not far behind. He therefore had to do what Hamilton did, slowing between the last two corners, and picking up a slipstream from the Ferrari.

It wasn’t an ideal start to the lap for either driver, as their careful tyre warm-up would have been disrupted by the slow progress through the last two corners. However both were able to cancel some of that out by picking up slipstreams from other drivers.

Relations between the two drivers have been in the spotlight as the team yesterday denied claims a member of its staff sent anonymous emails claiming Hamilton’s efforts are being sabotaged in his final season with them before he joins Ferrari. Team principal Toto Wolff said the police have been called in an effort to determine who sent the emails which were received by several journalists.

After their final runs in Q3 the pair were only slower than front row occupants Lando Norris and Verstappen. Team principal Toto Wolff said third and fourth on the grid was “a solid result” but “the car balance wasn’t quite as good as on Friday.

“Added to that, both drivers felt that there was little more time left out there. The gap to pole position was slightly larger than we had envisaged throughout practice, therefore. That was a little frustrating, but it is positive that we were able to get ourselves ahead of the Ferraris.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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20 comments on “Why Russell complained about Hamilton’s tactics at start of Q3”

  1. To be fair this is a non-story except for the fact that Russell choose to mention this for some reason on the radio.
    It must have been clear to him what Lewis was doing.

  2. Would be a non story if these Pirelli’s were not so incredibly fragile and had an actual wide window of operation, and not such a narrow window that even Goldilocks would call them picky.

  3. and Hamilton would have risked a penalty had he not moved out of their way.

    not really. Hamilton often behaves like a moving chicane and even bumping cars as retribution only results i a reprimand.

    1. Like every other driver on the grid at some moment or other during practice or qualifying.

    2. seems someone didnt watch many qualy-sessions to know the rules…

    3. I have never noticed him putting himself in a bad position more than any other drivers let alone those who do tend to impede often and he absolutely did nothing wrong here. George was clearly just losing his cool and looking for an excuse. He tends to easily crack under pressure.

      1. patrick Murphy
        22nd June 2024, 21:31

        Yip spot on mate, Hamilton is one of the best of getting out of the way and Russell is just a bad loser.

  4. Seems an unnecessarily overly aggressive remark but it’s typical of how Russell tries to work the team. Not sure the attitude is that necessary or productive from his point of view.

    1. It’s that magical email I tell you. They’ve had to sabotage Russell this weekend to prove they weren’t sabotaging Hamilton all season. It’ll be fine next weekend when they go back to sabotaging Hamilton again.

      1. how do you know they weren’t still sabotaging HAM and George is just that much slower ?

        What looks like the case is Lewis looked to manage the tire over the whole of the lap, a lot better, for what ever reason. New tire blankets ? Who knows.

        But, … the real test is whether or not Lewis can over take on the straight, and Catalunya will be a hard race to judge on that point. Lewis biggest problem for a long time is his in ability to overtake, even with DRS advantage, and better tires. For what ever reason. His teammate on the other hand, has made numerous overtakes on the straight. Thats the real tell.

        The tires in F1 are so gimmicky right now, the fastest car has to go slower to keep from burning them up. Thats why the field is bunched up. Because Red Bull can’t pull away otherwise their tires would grease up and they would run off the track.

        1. Your adorable conspiracy theories continue.

          Across their entire time together, the avg quali gap between the two had been .004 in Russell’s favor and this year’s quali times have only slightly moved the needle. So, the data from before Lewis announced he was leaving exposes your conspiracy mongering for the nonsense it is.

          It is sad you can’t even be happy when LH is doing well.

        2. The tires in F1 are so gimmicky right now, the fastest car has to go slower to keep from burning them up.

          Which is why Russell regularly fails to follow through on early race promise and finds various drivers behind on the grid catching and passing him.
          It’s an early career fault he decided to keep hold of, run fast early days and burn out before the end.
          Once he stops doing that, he should start producing results.
          Oh, and if he can stop whinging about minor items, that would be nice.

          1. patrick Murphy
            22nd June 2024, 21:39

            And thats where Lewis is better, doesnt burn the tyre out after sector 1 and keeps them in the window, he`s been doing that most of his career, and Russell`s moaning is getting really annoying!!

    2. @david-br i dont remember Russell takes any blame in any of his incidents or losses. He always deflect the blame. When ham takes responsibility, he is cry baby, when he deflects/excuses, he is cry baby. dont understand the logic of some haters. i guess they dont need one to hate someone.

  5. If Russell was 0.003s faster than he was, which would be enough to move him ahead of Hamilton, he wouldn’t complain.

    His issue is that he was beaten and he doesn’t take that well at all.

    1. His issue is that he was beaten and he doesn’t take that well at all.

      Yup. You have to take the knocks and learn.

    2. He complained before their respective final laps. Not after.

      1. He wouldn’t have complained after his first lap had he been ahead…so, same difference.

        Lewis is a constant whiner too. He just tends not to try use George as an excuse while I have heard GR complain about Lewis more than once when things aren’t going his way.

  6. Lol Russel, even if Hamilton leaves the team or retires, he will still have nightmares of him.

    1. patrick Murphy
      22nd June 2024, 21:41

      What you mean if Ham leaves, he is, this is his last year at merc.

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