Russell plays down Q3 ‘slipstream’ frustration with Hamilton

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George Russell explained the lively comment he directed at Lewis Hamilton during Saturday's qualifying in Barcelona, ahead of the Mercedes pair locking out the second row of the grid for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

Frustration crackled on the Brackley squad’s team radio in Q3 when Russell took aim at Hamilton upon the conclusion of his first flyer in the final segment of the shoot-out.

"What the f*** was Lewis doing prepping that lap?" he quipped.

The outburst was rooted in a misunderstanding during the pair’s outlaps in Q3, when both Mercedes drivers were vying for the aerodynamic advantage of a tow. However, their plans became entangled.

Russell, positioned behind Hamilton, aimed to let by the Alpine of Esteban Ocon and then latch on to the French driver’s slipstream on the Circuit de Catalunya's long main straight.

However, Hamilton appeared to have the same strategy in mind, delaying his move to let Ocon pass in order to maximize his own exit speed from the final corner.

The move obviously squandered Russell’s plan. However, Ferrari's Carlos Sainz emerged as an unexpected savior, offering Russell another slipstream opportunity in the final moments.


After concluding his session P4, just 0.002s behind Hamilton, Russell was queried on the mix-up but immediately downplayed the incident, acknowledging the heat-of-the-moment frustration and the shared desire for an advantage.

"Lewis was quite a long way ahead of me, but I think we both had our eyes on the same driver for a slipstream opening the lap,” he explained.

"I was just focusing on my mirrors not to impede Ocon and next time I looked it up Lewis was right in front of me trying to take the tow from Ocon.

"Obviously, we're in the moment and when you're trying to get everything [right], you're a bit hotheaded. But nothing gained, nothing lost and there was nothing more to it."


While Mercedes is still lacking the raw pace to compete with Red Bull's Max Verstappen or McLaren's pole-sitting Lando Norris, Russell believes there's still a chance for victory in Barcelona.

"Two milliseconds is the biggest gap I've had for the last four races to a driver around me, so it's crazy to think that," Russell said.

"Taking the positives as a team, we're in the mix. Lando did a really great lap. I don't think Lewis and I really put it together perfectly.

"I felt like there was maybe two-tenths on the table, but not the gap that we saw to pole. But nevertheless, we are P3 and P4, and in a great place to fight for a win tomorrow."

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