Mercedes says George Russell was aware that Lewis Hamilton could overtake him at the start of the Qatar Grand Prix, because they were on different strategies, and their collision “was simply a mistake”.
Lewis Hamilton started the Qatar Grand Prix from P3 on Soft tyres, while his team-mate George Russell and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen were on Mediums, in P2 and P1 respectively.
Lewis had a good start and as he was trying to overtake both George and Max into Turn 1, a collision happened between the two Mercedes drivers.
In the team’s race debrief video, Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin explained George was aware that this could happen, and even though there were no team orders implemented, the two drivers were not looking to fight it out.
“Of all the drivers on the grid, Lewis had the most limited options available in terms of his race tyres and in particular, in terms of the Medium,” Shovlin said.
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“This was in part due to laps we did on Friday morning before we had the awareness that there might be an issue with the tyres.
“We discussed the start tyre choice with both drivers on Sunday morning. There was always going to be a chance that Lewis on the Soft tyre was going to get a better start and overtake George before Turn 1.
“That was always considered but they were aware that they were on different strategies. It was important that they didn’t lose time racing each other and that was clear.
“But we weren’t imposing team orders in the race and what happened at Turn 1 was simply a mistake,” the Briton concluded.