George Russell: I’m happy to defeat Lewis Hamilton without team orders

George Russell spearheaded an unexpected Mercedes one-two in Brazil, with Lewis Hamilton finishing right behind his younger team-mate.

Team orders were the major talking point coming off the back of the Brazilian Grand Prix, with both Red Bull and Ferrari become embroiled in controversy following the race.

Max Verstappen refused to allow his teammate Sergio Perez to pass him, despite team orders, while Charles Leclerc was denied his request to be let through by Carlos Sainz.

One team that did not even consider team orders is Mercedes, as the Silver Arrows completed their first one-two finish since Imola back in 2020.

George Russell was comfortably winning the race going into the latter stages of the Grand Prix, before a safety car cause by Lando Norris forced the young Brit to have to survive a restart, with his teammate Lewis Hamilton right behind him.

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Russell asked his team over the radio if Hamilton was going to be racing him, or if team orders would be introduced to ensure the team brought home a vital one-two, to which he was told to respectfully race his teammate, with no orders in place.

The 24-year-old has claimed that he was not surprised by the team’s decision, suggesting that he has a respectful relationship with his teammate that allows them to race without risk of incident.

“We have always said we are free to race,” said Russell when asked about the lack of team orders.

“Toto [Wolff] and the team have put a lot of faith and trust in Lewis and I. We have had a few side-by-side moments throughout this year and it has always been respectful and I think we have got a huge amount of respect for one another.”

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Russell has told reporters that he only asked for clarification over the team radio because he understood how important a one-two would be for the team and thought Mercedes would do everything they could to protect it.

An example of this would be in Monza last year, when McLaren ordered Lando Norris to stay behind Daniel Ricciardo to protect the one-two finish, rather than losing time to the cars behind by fighting for the win.

“I just wanted to understand our position because I knew how important the one-two was for the team,” said Russell after the race.

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“If we weren’t racing, it was kind of like bring the car home. If we were racing, it was a quali-lap every lap and a risk in each corner because the lap had to be perfect.

“Obviously happy to have won it that way.”

While the Mercedes drivers’ have a respectful relationship at the moment, they have nothing left to fight for this season after a disappointing year for the team, the Silver Arrows will hope that they do not have a repeat of the Nico Rosberg – Hamilton relationship should their drivers be fighting for the 2023 title.