Lewis Hamilton and George Russell collided for the first time as Mercedes team-mates in Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix; Hamilton says he was “100 per cent” at fault for the collision; F1 returns with the United States GP – live on Sky Sports F1 from October 20-22
Last Updated: 09/10/23 11:23am
Lewis Hamilton insists he has a “great relationship” with George Russell after the pair dramatically collided on the opening lap of the Qatar Grand Prix.
Hamilton accepted responsibility for the accident after he swooped around the outside going into Turn One to try and overtake both Russell and Max Verstappen.
The Mercedes duo made wheel to wheel contact which sent Hamilton out of the race and initially dropped Russell to the back, but he came through the field and finished fourth.
The incident follows a lively end to the Singapore Grand Prix when both Mercedes ran nose-to-tail in a four-way fight for the lead, and they nearly came to blows at Suzuka a week later too.
Hamilton and Russell have both signed new contracts to stay with Mercedes until the end of 2025.
“I think we are a great team. George and I still have a great relationship. We will discuss things and work away,” Hamilton told Sky Italy.
“I’m happy to take responsibility as the older guy. I don’t think George had anywhere to go at that point.
“I was trying to get ahead of both of them and just an unfortunate situation. I had the worst tyre of everyone around me, so I needed to try and get ahead. Big risk, big penalty.”
He added to reporters: “The relationship isn’t broken. I don’t have any problems with George, we have a great relationship, we work and we always talk about things.
“So this is definitely unfortunate and I’m sure he was frustrated in the moment like I was. But we will talk about it offline and we move forwards. As I said, just apologies to all of the team.”
Did Hamilton and Russell discuss first lap before the race?
Hamilton started on the soft tyres and was on the cleaner side of the grid, while Mercedes put Russell on the mediums and he was on the dirtier part of the track.
The likelihood was Hamilton was always going to get a better run down to Turn One and could be more aggressive on the soft tyres, as the drivers have more grip and confidence on softer rubber during the opening lap.
It was a scenario both drivers discussed in the pre-race briefing but it didn’t stop the Mercedes pair from having their first collision together.
“Before the race we knew we had different tyres so he (Russell) was like ‘let’s just work together today’,” explained Hamilton.
“So we were talking about just working together. It was not our plan to come together. It’s just really gutting for the team. We’ve all worked so hard to be in that position and I felt just really sad for everybody for my part in it.”
Mercedes communications director Bradley Lord told Sky Sports F1: “We discussed it in the morning. It was a scenario we had been through and different start tyre performance and things like that.
“Then, in the moment, they all just ran out of space. George obviously had nowhere to go, Lewis tried to take his line and we saw what happened.
“Unfortunately, these things can happen and you can’t programme everything, even with a discussion beforehand. We will talk about it afterwards, as we do, and go through it and learn what we can to hopefully never have it happen again.”
Carlos Sainz’s failure to start, due to a fuel systems issue, meant Russell’s fourth place versus Charles Leclerc’s fifth saw Mercedes increase their lead to 28 points over Ferrari in the battle for second in the constructors’ championship.
Russell says his target is to help the team in that battle and Lord thinks the team did as well as they could in the race following the collision.
“On Lap 1 with George at the back and Lewis in the gravel, things didn’t look brilliant at all. To turn that around with George in P4 and outscoring Ferrari on an afternoon was not something we could have hoped for once we were one lap into the race,” said Lord.
“What might have been is clear to see. We were right on the pace of the McLarens, probably not within striking distance of Max, but there’s a double podium that could have been today.
“Ifs, buts and maybes don’t really count in this sport, so we will take what we have got and be happy with that, but it could have been so much more.”
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