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Lewis Hamilton: George Russell rejects Mercedes team-mate’s claims over setup ‘luck’


Lewis Hamilton suggested after the Saudi Arabian GP that Mercedes team-mate George Russell had benefitted from good fortune after they chose alternative car setups; watch the Australian GP live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend, with Sunday’s race live at 6am

Last Updated: 30/03/23 7:51am

George Russell finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton at the Saudi Arabian GP

George Russell finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton at the Saudi Arabian GP

George Russell has rejected Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s claims that his superior performance at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was based on luck.

Russell comfortably outqualified Hamilton in Jeddah before finishing the race where he started it in fourth, a place ahead of Hamilton who recovered from seventh on the grid.

With the Mercedes pair having chosen alternative setups going into the weekend, Hamilton said after the race that “more often than not” Russell’s would have been the “wrong one”, and that consequently he “could only match his pace rather than be quicker”.

“I don’t think there’s any luck in it at all,” Russell said on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, when asked to address Hamilton’s comments.

“I think it’s down to the preparation you put in before the event.

Hamilton spoke about Russell's set up after the Saudi Arabian GP

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Hamilton spoke about Russell’s set up after the Saudi Arabian GP

Hamilton spoke about Russell’s set up after the Saudi Arabian GP

“The changes we made overnight, I knew that was going to be the right direction with the work we did with the team. And I believed it was going to be better than the setup that Lewis opted for.

“I think everybody’s got different preferences, I was happy with the direction I took and the work I’m doing with the engineers.”

Russell impressively outperformed Hamilton in his debut campaign with Mercedes last year, finishing 35 points ahead of the seven-time world champion in the drivers’ standings, and also claiming the team’s only win of the season.

Mercedes driver George Russell’s battle for P3 followed some confusion around Aston Martin Fernando Alonso’s five-second penalty at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Mercedes driver George Russell’s battle for P3 followed some confusion around Aston Martin Fernando Alonso’s five-second penalty at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Mercedes driver George Russell’s battle for P3 followed some confusion around Aston Martin Fernando Alonso’s five-second penalty at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Hamilton, along with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, repeatedly suggested throughout 2022 that his willingness to experiment with alternate setups on their troublesome W13 car was the reason he lost ground to Russell.

Hamilton: Russell did a great job

Speaking shortly after Russell in Melbourne on Thursday, Hamilton sought to clarify the comments he had made in Jeddah.

“I think people probably, from my choice of words at the weekend… I want to reiterate how great a job George did on the weekend,” the seven-time world champion said.

“I think the thing I was commenting on is that there’s one specific thing that you can change in the suspension that you have to do over Friday night.

Hamilton says Mercedes are hoping for rain at the Australian Grand Prix to make 'racing more exciting' and also reflects on the end of his working relationship with performance coach Angela Cullen

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Hamilton says Mercedes are hoping for rain at the Australian Grand Prix to make ‘racing more exciting’ and also reflects on the end of his working relationship with performance coach Angela Cullen

Hamilton says Mercedes are hoping for rain at the Australian Grand Prix to make ‘racing more exciting’ and also reflects on the end of his working relationship with performance coach Angela Cullen

“And when you make that change, once you start P3 (final practice), you can’t change it for the rest of the weekend, so when you make that change, you’re basically rolling the dice – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

“I’ve done it in the past, sometimes it hasn’t worked, sometimes it has, and it worked great for George and he did a great job.

“And the thing that I was lacking in the race was a lot of front end, which that setup gives you, so, in hindsight, that would’ve been great.”

Sky F1's Karun Chandhok takes a look at the Albert Park Circuit ahead of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix

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Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok takes a look at the Albert Park Circuit ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix

Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok takes a look at the Albert Park Circuit ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix

“We took lots of learnings from it – I think race pace was quite decent, particularly in the second stint.

“And for us to move forward and get fourth and fifth place was great points for the team and a great result considering where we are in terms of performance deficit.”

Hamilton goes into Sunday’s race in Melbourne two points ahead of Russell in the 2023 drivers’ standings, with the team focused on attempting to close their deficit to Red Bull, who are seeking a third successive one-two to start the season.

Watch the Australian Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend, with Sunday’s race live at 6am. Get Sky Sports





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