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Formula 1 Spanish GP

Russell explains F1 Spanish GP qualifying mix-up with Hamilton

Before both Mercedes drivers qualified on the second row for Formula 1's Spanish Grand Prix, Russell voiced his frustration on the radio with team-mate Hamilton.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

George Russell has explained his frustration over team-mate Lewis Hamilton's outlap in Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix qualifying, explaining both Mercedes drivers were angling for the same slipstream.

On the first of two runs in the final Q3 shoot-out, Russell was behind Hamilton on their preparation laps as they were kept abreast of Alpine driver Esteban Ocon closing in on his flyer.

Russell was careful not to impede Ocon in the final sector but ensured he would catch the Alpine's draft as he turned onto Barcelona's long main straight, which would yield a valuable top-speed benefit.

But ahead of him, Hamilton had the same idea, leaving it late to let Ocon pass without compromising his exit speed through the final corner too much.

After focusing on his run, Russell vented his frustration on the team radio, saying: “What the f*** was Lewis doing prepping that lap?”

Afterwards, Russell played down the incident, saying he and his team-mate simply tried to get the same tow.

Fortunately for Russell, Ferrari's Carlos Sainz also came streaming past before the final turn, so Russell could get a slipstream off the Spaniard instead of Ocon.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

When asked by Autosport to explain what happened, Russell replied: "Lewis was quite a long way ahead of me, but I think we both had our eyes on the same driver for a slipstream opening the lap.

"I was just focusing my mirrors not to impede Ocon and next time I looked it up Lewis was right in front of me trying to take the tow from Ocon.

"Obviously, we're in the moment and when you're trying to get everything [right], you're a bit hotheaded. But nothing gained, nothing lost and there was nothing more to it."

On their second runs Hamilton and Russell both appeared to confirm Mercedes' steady stream of upgrades is paying off, narrowly holding both Ferraris at bay to claim third and fourth on the grid respectively.

Russell was beaten to third by Hamilton by a mere 0.002s, with the pair ending up three-tenths away from the front row.

He said that while Mercedes didn't have enough to challenge either Red Bull's Max Verstappen or McLaren's polesitter Lando Norris, the team is in the hunt for a win on Sunday on a circuit where tyre degradation might open up overtaking opportunities.

"Two milliseconds is the biggest gap I've had for the last four races to a driver around me, so it's crazy to think that," Russell said.

"Taking the positives as a team, we're in the mix. Lando did a really great lap. I don't think Lewis and I really put it together perfectly.

"I felt like there was maybe two-tenths on the table, but not the gap that we saw to pole. But nevertheless, we are P3 and P4, and in a great place to fight for a win tomorrow."

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