Lewis Hamilton airs his dirty laundry with Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has criticised Mercedes' strategy after a public dispute at the 2023 Japanese GP.

Lewis Hamilton expressed his disagreement with Mercedes’ strategy call at the Japanese Grand Prix, where he was told to slow down to help his teammate George Russell by granting him the use of his Drag Reduction System (DRS). 

The move ultimately allowed Carlos Sainz Jr. to overtake both Mercedes drivers in the closing stages of the race.

George Russell led the Mercedes duo, but his tires were significantly more worn than those of Hamilton and Sainz, as he had completed just one pit stop. 

Hamilton believed it was crucial for Mercedes to let Russell pass as soon as possible so that he could build a gap over the pursuing Ferrari. 

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Instead, they remained in formation for several laps, and even when Russell was allowed to pass, Hamilton was instructed to back off to enable Russell to use DRS. 

However, this strategy did not prevent Sainz from overtaking the second Mercedes.

Hamilton was critical of the team’s decision, particularly in light of a similar DRS ploy used by Sainz in his victory at the Singapore Grand Prix the previous week. 

“I don’t think it was a good idea at all,” Hamilton commented. 

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“When they suggested it to me, I knew that they had obviously thought of it from the last race, and it made no sense.”

He elaborated on the situation, saying, “I needed to get as far clear ahead as possible, and I was on my way, around two seconds ahead. 

“They asked me to give George DRS, so I had to come off the gas down the straight to get him 0.8 behind. 

“Then he got DRS, but he got overtaken, which was going to happen because he was on a one-stop and we were on a two-stop. 

“But then he got past him, and then he was right on my tail. So, not ideal.”

Hamilton suggested that swapping positions earlier in the race would have given Russell a better chance of staying ahead of Sainz. 

He emphasised the importance of teamwork, especially in the context of the Constructors’ Championship. 

“We’re not fighting each other in the team championship. 

“As drivers, it’s not important where we are. 

“What’s important is that one of us finishes ahead of the Ferrari to keep the position, so today we really needed to work as a team.”

However, George Russell defended the team’s approach, acknowledging that it was challenging to judge the best strategy to contain Sainz in the final laps. 

Russell emphasised the team’s goals, stating, “We’re in this together, but just how the race panned out, my tires were toast by the end of that.”

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He also acknowledged that the team’s decision was based on their pursuit of second place in the Constructors’ Championship, considering both his and Hamilton’s positions. 

“Worst case, we lost two extra points there, but we could have ended up with four points less. 

“So when you take the averages, the team made the right call. 

“From my side, zero hard feelings.”