Hamilton, Russell brush off qualifying contact
By Mat Coch
Sunday 4th June, 2023 - 2:49am
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton have brushed off their clash during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix as a “miscommunication.”
The pair touched on the front straight as Hamilton moved to pass his team-mate, only for Russell to move left.
Squeezed against the edge of the track, the Mercedes duo made contact, damaging the front wing and floor on Hamilton’s car.
“Just massive miscommunication,” Russell said of the incident.
“I was just looking ahead, trying to get the slipstream from Carlos [Sainz], and next thing Lewis was there.
“We need to talk internally on how that happened because, between two team-mates, it should never happen.”
Russell was quick to add that he laid no blame at Hamilton’s feet.
“It wasn’t either one’s fault, I think Lewis probably just didn’t know that I was starting a lap,” he said.
According to Hamilton, that was indeed the case.
The seven-time champion was surprised to see his team-mate on track and then misunderstood the situation.
“Everyone’s starting the lap from Turn 12, so when I can out of Turn 12 there was nobody ahead,” he explained,
“I got on the gas and started to pick up the pace. I came around [Turn] 13 and George looked like he was going into the pit lane, so I kept it going and then suddenly he cut back across.”
Following Russell down the front straight, Hamilton initially thought he was being given a tow, only to realise otherwise too late.
“I think he bailed out of his first lap or something like that,” Hamilton said.
“When he started to move to the right so I was like ‘oh, he is giving me a tow’.
“So I went to the left and [Russell] started coming back across.
“Just a misunderstanding.”
The clash left Hamilton with damage, though he was still able to qualify fifth fastest.
He suggests there was more on offer, though a mistake at Turn 10 cost him two-tenths.
Hamilton fared much better than Russell, who endured a difficult session with a car that had been taken in the wrong direction in terms of set-up.
“We made some small changes from FP3 to quali,” said a frustrated Russell, who qualified only 12th.
“The car was bouncing a lot in the high-speed corners, the corners that were flat easy in practice, I couldn’t take flat; couldn’t get the tyres working…
“From the first lap in Q1, I knew we weren’t going to be having a good day.
“It was strange. We should be capitalising from conditions like that and we usually do – as a team, we’re usually very good when it’s challenging.
“But today, especially on my side, just wasn’t really good.”
While disappointed with his qualifying performance, Russell believes he will have strong race pace.
“I think we have a fast race car,” he said.
“I think in FP2 we probably had the second quickest car after Max, ahead of the Ferraris, so not all is lost.
“Just need to be patient tomorrow and try to carve back through.”