At the Japanese Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell went head-to-head on several occasions, at one point even going off the track at Spoon.
This caused Russell to complain to the team, asking “who do we want to fight here, each other or the others”, and later saying Lewis ‘pushed him off the track’.
After the race, one of absent team boss Toto Wolff’s deputies, Bradley Lord, said what happened between the two was just ‘hard racing’.
“They race each other hard on a hard-racing track,” Lord said.
“It’s easy to read a lot into those radio messages in the heat of the moment. As always, we talk about it away from the pressure and the high temperatures of the cockpit in the debrief after.
“That’s where anything gets tidied up that needs tidying up.”
Lord also reflected on the remainder of the race, including Lewis’ contact with Sergio Perez, which damaged his car.
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“It was a bit of a battle out there. From the moment Lewis had that contact with Perez moving over on him on the straight, it put us on the back foot and we lost positions on Lap 1.
“From then it was a question of what we can salvage and how far we can fight back from there.
“Obviously, Lewis drove to the absolute limit of the car on his two-stop, with George we rolled the dice on the one-stop trying to see if we could make that work.
“Ultimately fifth and seventh is better than sixth and seventh, and this helps us minimise points [loss] to Ferrari.”
Asked why Mercedes put George on a risky one-stop strategy, Lord explained:
“With George, he was well ahead of Alonso and comfortably ahead of the cars behind. It offered an opportunity for [Carlos] Sainz to potentially get the second Ferrari [past].
“It didn’t quite work out, but it was worth the gamble,” he concluded.