In the closing stages of the Australian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton told his race engineer Peter Bonnington that Mercedes has put him “in a really difficult position”.
A few moments before he was closing in on his team-mate George Russell, who was ahead of him due to a fortunate Safety Car, but then suddenly seemed to back off.
Some observers believed that the radio message was in response to the team possibly asking him not to attack Russell, but after the race Lewis explained it was due to his car having overheating issues.
Later Lewis was again specifically asked if the message was actually aimed at Mercedes’ tactics, but he again reiterated it was due to car issues.
“I couldn’t race for position because the car was overheating, so I had to back off,” Hamilton said.
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He then went on to express his delight at Mercedes’ performance today.
“It’s an amazing result for us as a team. Honestly it’s such a positive. We were 1.2s off I think on Friday, and it wasn’t looking spectacular at that point.
“We definitely didn’t expect to be third and fourth today. We’ve had so many difficult moments with the car and to get fifth and sixth in qualifying, to have progressed like we have, with the reliability we have, is amazing.
“We did some great work overnight, qualifying on the third row, and then great starts – I was up in third. It felt amazing to be fighting, or feel like we’re fighting, for a podium in that moment.
“Obviously we couldn’t hold the pace of the Red Bulls, I think we’ve really extracted the most we could points wise.
“Whilst we haven’t necessarily improved the car over these three races, I think we’ve really extracted the most we could points wise.
“I think from my side, I let the team down in the last race and didn’t get the points but to come away with this result is great.”
Lewis also praised Russell’s performance which led to the young Briton’s first podium finish for Mercedes.
“He’s done an amazing job. He’s had great pace. He’s been so solid these first three races. And he’s working, really grafting away, doing an amazing job.
“I got to see a bit of the battle of him racing Perez and I wish could have been in it,” Hamilton concluded.