Did Lewis Hamilton deliberately hurt George Russell in Azerbaijan?

Mercedes had a mixed qualifying session in Azerbaijan, with Lewis Hamilton starting much farther ahead than George Russell.

Azerbaijan has proved to be a tricky experience for Mercedes, with a mixed bag of results throughout qualifying and the sprint race.

On Saturday, George Russell lined up and finished in P4, while Lewis Hamilton started in P6 but dropped down one place to end the sprint in seventh

The Grand Prix proves an opportunity for the teammates to reverse roles, as Hamilton starts in P5 and Russell begins the race in P11.

Russell’s failure to make Q2 was blamed on his teammate accidentally giving McLaren’s Oscar Piastri a tow down the main straight, which allowed the Australia to push the Brit out of the top 10.

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“I doubt that was intentional,” Sky Sports pundit Naomi Schiff said.

“The timing of when you hit the lead man here is, of course, very important on this track.”  

“Well, we are just not fast enough this weekend,” Russell said, offering his own explanation.

“Obviously, I would love to be in Q3 but I was giving it everything. I think right now we wouldn’t really know what to change to find the pace we need around this track. 

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“We will see what we can do tomorrow, I will try hard to try and improve my driving and try to work with the team to see what we can do to come back stronger.”

Hamilton dismissed any suggestion that he had acted intentionally to limit his teammate’s chances in the race, blaming the difficult track on his accidental accidence to a rival.

“Timing and getting into the rhythm and really pulling out everything is not easy on this track,” he said.

“Everyone’s working as hard as they can so we haven’t had an upgrade this weekend, but we are working towards one that will hopefully put us a little closer to the battle ahead. 

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“The car is not the easiest one to drive but I’m happy to be on the third row hopefully tomorrow we can have a better battle.”

Hamilton needs to capitalise on his positioning ahead of the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso, as Mercedes look to fight their UK-based rivals in the Constructors’ Standings.

Going into Sunday’s race, Aston Martin holds a narrow 6 point lead over Mercedes, with both teams significantly behind the dominant Red Bulls.