Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton has been "unlucky" in his fight with teammate George Russell so far this season, after a Miami Grand Prix that saw him stung once again by the timing of the Safety Car.
The seven-time World Champion trails his new, younger teammate in the standings following the opening five races of the 2022 F1 season.
But on repeat occasions this term, the Safety Car has arrived at a difficult time for Hamilton, allowing Russell to gain an advantage.
That, along with an Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that saw him place outside the points, means Hamilton sits 23 points behind Russell heading into the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.
Hamilton has been "between a rock and a hard place"
Miami saw the latest instance of Hamilton being set back by the Safety Car after Russell, who started the race on the Hard tyres following a poor qualifying session, was allowed to close up behind him and pit for Soft tyres.
Russell then completed an overtake on his more experienced teammate, who was defending with a used set.
"I think [Hamilton] was between a rock and a hard place, because the Safety Car clearly came out at a situation that wasn't favourable for him, and favourable for George, in the back," said Wolff, speaking to select members of the media, including RacingNews365.com.
"George had a window, no one behind him, he was able to switch on to a practically new Medium, and Lewis had to decide, 'Do I keep the position on a Hard or do I go on a Soft?', which would have been also tricky.
"That was probably a 50:50 decision and, in the end, it didn't work out for him – but it's not the first time that he's been unlucky this season with the Safety Car."
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Wolff pleased by ease at which Russell has integrated
Despite their battle on track, Wolff was quick to comment positively on the relationship between his two drivers during their early days as teammates.
The pair have been seen bonding off track and are yet to encounter any drama on it.
"I'm really happy about the two of them, how they interact, how respectfully they go about with each other," he continued.
"Even a situation where they race each other, where it's getting a bit, 'I'm not leaving you room' and then, 'Okay then, I'm never gonna find another way', and then you give the position back.
"I think this is how two teammates should race each other and that's okay, so I'm happy how he settled in."
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