George Russell labelled ‘worst aspect’ of Lewis Hamilton’s weekend

Lewis Hamilton started the race on the hard compound tyres in an effort to have a long first stint but his race was hurt by an early safety car around lap 18.

Mercedes made the surprise decision at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to send Lewis Hamilton out on the hard compound tyres from lap one, instead of sticking with the more favourable medium tyres.

The decision compounded the lack of pace on show from Mercedes, leaving Hamilton only able to climb two places from seventh to fifth place. 

Hamilton’s teammate George Russell would drop back from third place on the starting grid to fourth by the end of the race.

The deployment of a safety car on lap 18, when Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll retired on track, hurt Mercedes, as it interrupted Hamilton’s efforts to have a long first stint.

READ: Toto Wolff says Mercedes need to ‘double development speed’ to catch Red Bull

Peter Windsor, former Williams team manager, blasted the choice of tyres by Mercedes as “asking for trouble” by going against the rest of the grid.

“The medium was a really good race tyre in Saudi Arabia and to be on anything other than that at the start of the race was asking for trouble,” Windsor explained on his YouTube channel.

“Toto was on the radio afterwards telling Lewis that it was a good drive, and of course it was a good drive, but it wasn’t the sort of drive that Hamilton will want to be thinking about on his flight home,” he added.

“He doesn’t want to be passed by Max Verstappen as if he’s going backwards. He doesn’t want to be racing Haas and Alpha Tauri. In the end, he got beaten by George [Russell], which is probably the worst aspect of the weekend. Not a good one for Lewis,” Windsor continued.

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The safety car in Saudi Arabia would prove more beneficial for others on the grid, as it allowed Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso to serve a five second penalty for incorrect placement on the grid.

READ: ‘I told you’: Lewis Hamilton fires shot at Mercedes 

The cheap pitstop meant that Alonso didn’t lose his place in the pecking order, ultimately finishing in third place behind the fast-paced Red Bull’s of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

“My set-up this weekend has been the biggest issue I’ve faced. I got it wrong for qualifying and it wasn’t good in the race either, so I struggled today,” Hamilton explained post-race.

“We were trying to go long on the hard tyre, but the Safety Car came out, so I had to pit. We just about managed to make the medium work, but it was a long second stint,” he accepted.