George Russell fumes after Lewis Hamilton causes first corner collision in the Qatar Grand Prix… with the Brit’s Mercedes finishing fourth as Max Verstappen wins yet again from pole
- George Russell finished fourth after being taken out by Lewis Hamilton
- Russell was left fuming after the Mercedes-on-Mercedes first corner collision
- Max Verstappen won the Qatar GP the day after clinching the drivers’ title
George Russell was left fuming after Lewis Hamilton collided with him in a reckless Mercedes-on-Mercedes skirmish at the start of the Qatar Grand Prix.
Russell was left with nowhere to go as the seven-time world champion, who had started a place back in third, pressed his claims on the outside of the opening right-hand bend. Hamilton’s rear-right wheel tagged Russell’s front left. Hamilton spun into the gravel, his race over. Russell went into the pits for a new front wing and carried on, en route to a fourth-placed finish.
On Russell’s right at the point of impact was eventual comfortable race winner and newly re-crowned champion Max Verstappen, so he was penned in. Hamilton, on the other hand, could have granted Russell more space – it was his responsibility to do so.
Asked if he was OK before climbing out of his beached car, Hamilton said: ‘Yeah, I got taken out by my own team-mate.’
Russell rightly saw things differently. ‘F***ing hell,’ he shouted. ‘Come on! What the hell! I have got damage.’
George Russell was left fuming after a first-corner collision with teammate Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton was forced to abandon the race after the early Mercedes-on-Mercedes crash
The seven-time champion later admitted his responsibility for the incident involving Russell
Referring to Hamilton baring his teeth in close combat with him in Japan a fortnight ago, Russell added: ‘Guys, come on, f***, two races in a row.
‘I am so sorry, guys, I wasn’t even looking behind, I was just focused ahead, and he just came from nowhere. I was totally sandwiched.
‘Lost for words, honestly. I’ve just seen the replays on the TV screen. I couldn’t do anything. I was totally sandwiched. $%&^, lap one.’
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff came on the radio from home in Monaco, where he is convalescing after ill-timed knee surgery that has seen him miss this and the last race.
‘George,’ Wolff implored, ‘let’s do the best out of it.’
Later Hamilton had seen sense, the mists of adrenaline having cleared from his body. ‘In the heat of the moment, it was frustrating because I felt this tap from the rear but I don’t think George had anywhere to go,’ admitted the seven-time world champion.
‘It was an unfortunate scenario and I am happy to take responsibility because that is my role. I need to go back and look at it, but I don’t feel it was George’s fault.
‘Before the race, we knew we were on different tyres so we wanted to work together. It is just really gutting for the team. I feel just really sad for everybody for my part in it.
‘I had the soft tyre and everyone around me was on the medium, and I needed to get by. I tried going round the outside of Max and it just didn’t work out.’
There are now strains at Mercedes – and Wolff’s absence can hardly be conducive to good order whatever they may pretend in the team. Although the Austrian was in touch all weekend, his physical presence in the garage was taken by new driver development director and former Lotus racer, 37-year-old Jerome D’Ambrosio, and 43-year-old British PR man Bradley Lord.
Despite the turbulence, Hamilton insisted: ‘The relationship is not broken. I don’t have any problems with George. We have a great relationship and we always talk about things. This is just unfortunate and I am sure he was frustrated in the moment, as I was.
‘We will talk about it offline, move forwards and apologise to all the team.’
World Champion Max Verstappen enjoyed a 57-lap victory parade in the sticky conditions
Oscar Piastri (R) was second, with his McLaren teammate Lando Norris (L) also on the podium
Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari did not even start the race as the car suffered a fuel system failure
Verstappen, who won his third successive title in the sprint race on Saturday, enjoyed a 57-lap victory parade here in barely tolerable sticky conditions. The Dutchman, unchallenged, won by five seconds from McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, with the Australian rookie’s team-mate Lando Norris third.
It was Verstappen’s 14th win from 17 races. He also took pole and the fastest lap – surprise, surprise.
The race was a disjointed affair because of the impact of 5cm ‘pyramid kerbs’ at Turns 12 and 13 on tyre integrity. The FIA mandated a minimum of three stops as a safety precaution. In out, in out, shake it all about.
Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari didn’t even start the hokey cokey, afflicted as he was by a fuel system failure.
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