Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell put behind the F1 Qatar GP clash after the former apologises to the latter.
It wasn’t the start that Mercedes hoped for in F1 Qatar GP when Hamilton tried the outside line in Turn 1 onto Red Bull’s Max Verstappen while sandwiching own teammate Russell in the process. He retired immediately while the latter suffered damage.
Initially they blamed each other but Hamilton was quick to put down after he saw the replays. “I’ve watched the replay and it was 100% my fault and I take full responsibility. Apologies to my team and to George,” he said on Twitter/X.
Hamilton started on the soft compound and so had better grip immediately against Verstappen and Russell but a tight move eventually cost him. The FIA stewards agreed about an opportunistic try but eventually put it down as a typical Lap 1 situation.
Russell eventually recovered to fourth in a mighty turnaround but they ended up feeling for more considering the pace they had. The Mercedes pair hugged it out after the race while sending a message that all is well and these things happen at odd times.
“No hard feelings. We’re here to fight and maximise for the team. We misjudged it today, but our car was exceptionally strong and I’m proud of the whole team. Time to regroup and continue building off the strong pace in Austin,” stated Russell.
Here’s what Mercedes trio including Bradley Lord (stand-in) stated –
Reflect on incident –
Hamilton: “I think in the heat of the moment, it was obviously frustrating because I felt this tap from the rear end, but I don’t think George had anywhere to go, it was just an unfortunate scenario. I’m happy to take responsibility because that’s my role. I need to go back and look at it, but I don’t feel like it was George’s fault.”
Pre-race discussions –
Hamilton: “Before the race, we knew that George was on different tyres, so we were just talking about working together. And again, it’s not, our plan to come together, really gutting for the team because we’ve all worked so hard to be in that position and I feel really sad for everybody, for my part in it. I had the soft tyre and everyone around me had the medium tyre, so I needed to get by and I tried to go around the outside of Max.”
All well with Russell –
Hamilton: “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’ll talk about it offline and we move forwards. As I said, just apologies to all of the team.”
Blame and subsequent apology –
Russell: “Lewis and I will be fine. We’ve got a huge amount of respect for each other, nothing was intentional from from either side. I definitely appreciate him apologising for that, for sure. As I said on the radio in every incident it involves two people and I definitely appreciate what he said.”
Potential chance of big results –
Russell: “It was just a big missed opportunity for both of us. We’ve got one goal and that’s to finish P2 in the constructors’ championship. We had a lot of discussions this morning about how we’re going to work together, the fight wasn’t with each other, the fight’s with Ferrari. Fortunately, we still came away with more points than them this weekend. We believe that we were on pace or, if not, faster than McLaren. And seeing that Piastri finished so close to Max was really quite surprising.
Plan from the team’s side, strategy –
Lord/Mercedes: “The game plan was…we knew with the selection of the mediums and hards that we had left 59 usable race laps, so the trade was between the new softs and the potential to take that up to Lap 8 or a used medium but we thought of the start benefit would outweigh the potential loss later in the race. That explains that decision, we did talk about the potential scenarios at the first corner in the strategy meetings this morning. We discussed the likely offset between the two drivers and how that would be handled and obviously what happened was not part of plan but certainly not intentional from either side either.”
Collision and handling –
Lord/Mercedes: “I think the rule number one for any racing team is that when your two cars, they make contact, that is something that drivers are brought into just like every other member of the team is as well. To be one car in the gravel, one in the pitlane and plumb last at the end of Lap 1 is about badly as first lap can go but how we deal with it, we will talk about it behind the closed doors. Both drivers have been verg magnanimous afterwards and we will talk about it behind and I think the feature of this season has been how well they work together to try and lead the team back from the difficult position that we started with the car and continue to do that for the last five races and hopefully secure P2 in the championship.”
No blame game –
Lord/Mercedes: “I think it is not my job to sit here and put a responsibility on one side or the other, the drivers know far better than me how they conduct on track. I think what I would say is Lewis doing that and being able to extract the character and come out and speak like he has done, shows that champions aren’t made in the winning moments but also in most difficult ones. It speaks volumes to his strength and character that he is able to do that.”
Here’s collision between the two: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2023-qatar-grand-prix-hamilton-and-russells-lap-1-collision.1779211533313588278.html
Here’s Lewis Hamilton apologising to George Russell: https://x.com/MercedesAMGF1/status/1711107823726145827?s=20
Here’s George Russell on almost fainting in the car
Here’s how F1 Qatar GP panned out