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Mercedes explain message to Russell during Perez battle

George Russell missed out on P2 to Sergio Perez at the Australian Grand Prix, with the Mexican finishing five seconds ahead of the Mercedes driver on track. James Vowles, Chief Strategist at the Silver Arrows, has given an insight into an "important" strategy call involved in this.

Mercedes have explained why George Russell was not encouraged to battle with Sergio Perez during the Australian Grand Prix. Russell moved up from fifth to third after pitting during a Safety Car period, putting him ahead of Perez as well as teammate Lewis Hamilton. However, with 20 laps remaining in the race, Mercedes requested that Russell focus on conserving his tyres for the remainder of the Grand Prix, rather than fighting with Perez. Perez was able to get ahead and, following Max Verstappen's retirement from the race, he was promoted up into P2, handing P3 to Russell.

Mercedes detail "subtletly" in message to Russell

James Vowles, Chief Strategist at Mercedes, has given a further insight into the strategy call in a debrief video shared by the team. In response to a fan's question about why Russell had been asked to let Perez by when the Briton had "good tyres to fight him", Vowles explained: "It's a subtletly, but it is an important one. "It's not so much we asked George to let Perez go - we never want to give up a position. "But these tyres, both the Medium but also the Hard tyre, required a good amount of management, a good amount of looking after them to make sure they can make the end of the race without dropping off the curve. "We saw that happen with Perez on stint one. And the message to George was very simple: Look after your tyres, and if that costs us the position to Perez on track, we don't want it with all our heart, but it's the right thing to do."

Questions over whether Perez's tyres would last

Vowles says that the decision not to race Perez was the right one, given the possible events that can happen during a Grand Prix. "Ultimately, getting to the end of the race on tyres that we know will make it, that covers you off against Safety Cars and other circumstances, is the right course of action, especially given what happened on the Medium in stint one," he said. The Chief Strategist also admits that the team had wondered whether Perez's tyres would hold out. "We had also expected that Perez, with the pace he was doing and the amount he was pushing his tyres, could well have a repeat of what happened in stint one," Vowles commented. "But, ultimately, that didn't happen. He pulled away from five seconds from George, actually he overtook him fairly easily in the end, and there was no race there for us to have."

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