Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has defended Lewis Hamilton, who is being comprehensively outscored by new teammate George Russell, after another disappointing race for the seven-time champion in Monaco.

Hamilton finished the Monaco GP down in a frustrated P8 behind the defending Fernando Alonso, while Russell continued his top five finishing streak with a P5. This was made particularly impressive by unique issues that the Monaco circuit brought to the problematic Mercedes concept.

Russell and Hamilton experienced severe bouncing mid-corner from the off in Monaco, seemingly due to the stiffness of its suspension, only a week after introducing upgrades which looked to have cured the bouncing instead caused by porpoising.

However, in Hamilton’s case it was his track position which left him unable to make the most of the damp conditions, being held throughout his last stint behind Alonso’s Alpine, who’s slow pace formed a large train of cars behind him and an eventual 34 second gap to the next placed car in Lando Norris.

A somewhat stoic and reflective Hamilton explained how he “didn’t find it frustrating” to be stuck behind the Spaniard at a track where overtaking is the toughest of any of F1’s current venues. “It is what it is, [I was] just cruising behind him… I knew that would be the case once Alonso qualified ahead of me,” the Brit revealed.

“There was nothing I could really do, I was hoping for some more opportunity with the rain but it didn’t turn into an opportunity and I tried to get by, then I got stuck behind his teammate so yeah it’s just one of those days. [Esteban Ocon] put me in the wall so I’m just grateful that I’ve finished. I’m so surprised that my car stayed together so I’m grateful for that,” summed up Hamilton.

Mercedes team boss Wolff believes Hamilton would have been in the fight with the cars ahead towards the front of the grid, had it not been for the clash with Ocon which went unseen from the broadcast after a smaller incident between the pair a lap earlier had been aired.

“Absolutely he could have closed up [to Norris in P6], but first of all there was the incident with Esteban for which he got a penalty,” Wolff said. “But then yeah he could have been right there and then closed into Lando’s pit stop window or even fought with George and Lando in the front because that was his pace.”

In his first Monaco GP for the team, Russell heralded his “really enjoyable” race that was a stark contrast to Hamilton’s experience, with the former facetiously airing his disappointment that the local TV directors chose not to broadcast his near-miss overtake on Norris.

“It was a positive race, I think on the hard tyres we were the quickest car on track at some points and we were really pushing the limits so that was really enjoyable,” Russell revealed. “They didn’t show my overtake on Lando which was a bit disappointing, he came out of the pits directly in front of me and sort of chopped across and I managed to overtake him on the wet stuff, so that was pretty nice. [Then] I sort of managed it until the end, it was not easy on that medium tyre.”

Wolff was adamant that Russell consistently beating Hamilton is not the new norm for Mercedes, when asked post-race. Instead, he points to a raft of extraneous factors throughout the disrupted race which left Hamilton three places behind his teammate.

“No, when you look at the bad spells that Lewis had in the race, I mean look at the race today – stuck again, contact with Esteban, stuck behind Fernando, the red flag yesterday in qualifying and you know what happened in the races before,” Wolff said.

“I think the pendulum will swing so that these unlucky situations stop with Lewis. They are very much on the same pace, in one practice one leads then the other one and that is great that they are working together in order to get our car straight, because we need to get that car straight.”