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Mercedes explain Russell-Hamilton team orders confusion in Saudi GP

Technical director Mike Elliott has given the reasons why Mercedes did not swap George Russell and Lewis Hamilton in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Mercedes have explained their decision to not impose Formula 1 team orders and let Lewis Hamilton past George Russell in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The seven-time World Champion was the highest placed driver on the grid in seventh to go for a contra-strategy at the start, opting for the Hard tyres compared to Mediums for all those ahead, including third-placed Russell. Hamilton complained of tyre warm-up in the opening laps, with the Lance Stroll-triggered Safety Car bringing forward his planned change to Medium tyres, with Russell going onto the Hards for the run to the flag. The two then fought over fourth place, with Hamilton quicker at that stage of the race, but the Briton did not did receive a wave through to chase after Fernando Alonso's Aston Martin. Technical Director Mike Elliott has since explained the thinking behind the decision.

Mercedes explain no team orders in Saudi GP

Hamilton had closed to within a few tenths of Russell, but could not find a way past the sister W14 and eventually fell back when Russell upped the pace as the race went on, with Elliott explaining how this was expected. "First of all, you've got to bear in mind that the Safety Car was pretty early (Lap 18 of 50) so it was going to be a very long final stint," he explained in Mercedes' post-race debrief. "Although Lewis came out on theoretically the faster tyre in the Medium, by the end of the stint the Hard tyre was going to be a much quicker tyre. "So, although Lewis could put pressure on George initially, he wasn't going to be able to do that at the end of the stint and so there probably wasn't a clear [answer to] which tyre is faster or slower if you look at the full stint length. "We've always let our drivers race, that's just the way we have operated as a team and we didn't think we were going to be in a position where favouring one driver over the other would get us in a better position in the race. So, we just let them race."

Mercedes morale

The eight-time Constructors' champions have endured a tricky start to the season and look set to abandon their zero sidepod car concept, having admitted they simply got it wrong. Despite Red Bull now dominating the field, Elliott remains positive about the mindset of those back at the Brackley base in turning Mercedes' fortunes around. "Obviously, Bahrain was a real reality check and to find ourselves in the position we find ourselves in, not being competitive, was a real disappointment for the whole team," he said. "But you have to get yourself through that and you have to turn that into, 'What we are going to do about it? How are we going to bring the sort of the energy and what we are capable of doing? How are we going to move ourselves forward? How are we going to get ourselves back in the fight?' "Actually, walking around the factory there is huge amount of energy, there is a huge amount of work going on. "We are starting to see some of the development come through already that is going to get us back into this championship fight. "All we can do is just keep pushing and I've been really pleased to see the attitude in the team." Do you think Mercedes will win a race in the 2023 season? Let us know in the poll below and in the comments section!

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