Hamilton gives candid assessment of Russell’s performance in Miami

George Russell finished fifth in Miami last weekend just ahead of team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton.

Sir Lewis Hamilton was impressed by the consistency of George Russell’s pace in the opening stint of the Miami Grand Prix after the 24-year-old beat him to fifth.

Hamilton out-qualified Russell for the third time this season in Florida when he started the race sixth, while the younger Briton was left “confused” as to why his pace during practice dropped away ahead of qualifying when he was eliminated from Q2 in 12th.

The former Williams man started the race on Hards, and took them long into the race in the hope of a Safety Car, which he got when Lando Norris was collected by Pierre Gasly.

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Hamilton had already gone from Mediums to Hards himself, and he only had three sets of Softs available to him other than the already-raced rubber, so he had to stay out and was ultimately a sitting duck to Russell on fresh Mediums.

It did take a coupe of bites at the cherry after the 37-year-old gallantly fought him off, but Mercedes came home P5 and P6, a relief considering the awful performance they suffered in Imola a fortnight earlier.

Hamilton was left wondering if the result might have been different for him had he mirrored his team-mate’s strategy, but he is pleased with the overall points haul amid a tough season under the new technical regulations.

“George obviously did a great job in that first stint,” he told RacingNews365.com.

“He was on the best tyre to start with, so, in hindsight, maybe we could have started on the Hard tyre. But again, he did a great job to recover from his position and get the points. 

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“We were fifth and sixth today, it’s good points for the team.”

Miami was the second time this season that a Safety Car has cost Hamilton a position to Russell, and he hopes better fortunes await him soon.

“I’m waiting for it but, until then, I’ll keep working as hard as I can, and [keep] working with the team,” he explained.

“We got good points as a team today.”

Mercedes appeared to have a better understanding of the “porpoising” phenomenon in Florida having struggled with it throughout the season and, particularly in practice, their pace was perceivably an improvement on their performance in the first four races.

The seven-time champion dismisses this, confirming that, although the car is less abrasive with the track surface, the Brackley side have not really made any strides forward.

“We were the same speed as we were in the first race,” he stated.

“We’ve just got to keep trying. We have not improved in these five races.

“I’m hopeful that at some stage we will but we have just got to keep trying, keep working hard. 

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“The porpoising was not as bad in Miami – it can vary from track to track, from race to race. It wasn’t really bad in Miami, but we were just not fast.”

Mercedes now sit 62 points behind leaders Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship behind Ferrari, but Russell’s impressive performances have put him in fourth ahead of Carlos Sainz following a turbulent start to the year for the Spaniard.