George Russell explains his “let’s fight later” team radio message

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

While Lewis Hamilton was getting closer to George Russell at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, George told the team: “Alonso has a five second penalty here, let’s fight later”. He explains what this meant.

After a Safety Car period at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton, who was running on medium tyres, started catching up to George Russell, who was running on hard tyres, and it appeared that a battle between team-mates for P4 was about to ensue.

At that point, while talking to his engineer, George Russell said:

“Alonso has a five second penalty here, let’s fight later. I want to manage the tyres a little bit now.”

This prompted some to think that Mercedes had asked him to let Lewis through, however, after the race Sky Sports reported there were no team orders issued by the team.

Afterwards, George explained to Sky Sports what the message meant.

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“It was an interesting race,” Russell said.

“After the Safety Car, I was on the hards, Lewis was on the mediums. So he probably had a bit more pace in the beginning. I knew my pace was coming at the end, but there was a lot of confusion because I thought Fernando had a five-second penalty.

“So I didn’t want us to be fighting among each other, and we both lose out to Fernando. I wanted to stay within distance, manage our tyres, then have a fair battle towards the end.

“I’m pleased with P4, the penalty to Fernando is pretty harsh. They are the deserving podium finishers.

“But I’m not complaining too much,” the Briton concluded.

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