Russell has "zero hard feelings" about Mercedes F1 team orders

George Russell says he has "zero hard feelings" about being asked to invert positions with Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the Japanese GP.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

The Mercedes drivers were running together on track as Ferrari's Carlos Sainz closed in.

With Hamilton on fresher tyres and potentially faster than one-stopper Russell, the team agreed to a request from the seven-time world champion to get him in front, leaving Russell to fend off Sainz for as long as he could.

Russell initially queried the decision, suggesting that the team wait until the last lap, but he complied after being told it was an instruction.

He in turn asked for Hamilton to help his defence by giving him DRS, noting that it was the "least he can do" after "he pushed me off the track earlier".

Hamilton agreed to help, but nevertheless, Sainz soon got past. However, the Spaniard was unable to do anything about Hamilton.

After the flag, Russell said he had no issue with the team orders as the intention was to boost the overall result for Mercedes.

"Yeah, of course," he said when asked by Autosport if he accepted the place swap. "You use the radio as a bit of a release valve because, it's so hot in the car, it's a long race, you're there pushing for an hour and a half, you're fighting every inch.

"The main goal is to finish P2 in the constructors' championship. The drivers' championship for me is out of the window totally, Lewis is in a good place to fight for a good position.

"But the goal is just to finish ahead of Ferrari this season, keep on working for next year, so yeah, no issues on my side."

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Sainz suggested that Mercedes might have made life harder for him by leaving Hamilton behind.

"Of course, difficult for the team to judge," Russell noted. "But as I said, myself I've got one goal, which is to finish P2 in the constructors' championship for the team. Lewis has had a really consistent season this year. He's in a battle for P3 in the drivers' championship.

"Worst case, we lost two extra points there. But we could have ended up with four points less, so when you take the averages, the team made the right call.

"And from my side, zero hard feelings. As I said, we've got to work on the car and we're not going to get upset over a potential fifth and sixth loss versus a fifth and a seventh."

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Russell and Hamilton fought hard on track on several occasions during the race, and at one point the former asked if they should be fighting "each other or rather others".

Although the contest looked fraught at times, Russell insisted that it was fair.

"I viewed it as good, hard racing," he said. "To be in the position to be putting him under pressure and making moves on him, I was happy with. So I would take the positives from that.

"The pace on my side I thought was really strong, considering how difficult the car's been to drive this weekend. It's just hard fair racing. Of course, we lost a bit of time fighting with one another.

"And again, you are a bit frustrated on the radio, it's just part of racing."

Asked if it went too far at any point, he said: "No. Just both of us lost time to the cars around us. As I said, we're not going to give the position easily to one another. It was still early on in the race.

"I had more pace, but he was the car who was ahead, so as I said part of racing, we're not even going to discuss it. There's nothing to discuss. We've got bigger fish to fry, which is how to make our car go quicker."

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