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Mercedes refutes Qatar team orders after Hamilton-Russell clash

Mercedes' Qatar Grand Prix got off to the worst possible start when its drivers collided on the opening lap of the race.

Hamilton crash Qatar
To news overview © XPBimages

Mercedes has insisted that it wasn't imposing team orders in Qatar despite both of its drivers starting on different tyre compounds.

George Russell took the start from second position equipped with the Medium tyre, alongside pole-sitter Max Verstappen.

Team-mate Lewis Hamilton was fitted with Soft tyres as his allocation for the weekend was limited compared to other drivers.

“Of all the drivers on the grid, Lewis had the most limited options available in terms of his race tyres and in particular, in terms of the Medium,” said Mercedes' Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin.

“This was in part due to laps we did on Friday morning before we had the awareness that there might be an issue with the tyres.”

Mercedes also highlighted that it had noted the Soft tyre had delivered Russell a strong start the day before in the sprint race.

However, Mercedes' race unravelled at the first corner when Hamilton and Russell made contact with one another.

Hamilton was immediately eliminated from the Grand Prix while Russell was demoted to the rear of the grid before recovering to fourth place.

Mercedes stated that it anticipated that Hamilton was likely to get a stronger start but had no interest in implementing team orders.

“We discussed the start tyre choice with both drivers on Sunday morning,” Shovlin said.

“There was always going to be a chance that Lewis on the Soft tyre was going to get a better start and overtake George before Turn 1.

“That was always considered but they were aware that they were on different strategies.

“It was important that they didn’t lose time racing each other and that was clear.

“But we weren’t imposing team orders in the race and what happened at Turn 1 was simply a mistake.”

F1 2023 Qatar Grand Prix RN365 News dossier


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