Lewis Hamilton suggested Mercedes favoured George Russell

Lewis Hamilton's podium at the Australian Grand Prix was his first since the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton enjoyed his best weekend of the 2023 F1 season at the Australian Grand Prix after claiming his first podium of the year; however, it wasn’t the easiest of races for the 38-year-old.

Starting from third on the grid, Hamilton knew that he had an exceptional chance of a rostrum, something which looked even more likely after overtaking Max Verstappen for second on the opening lap.

The Mercedes driver remained in second behind George Russell for the opening laps of the race, until his team-mate was suddenly brought into the pits.

This elevated Hamilton into the lead of the race but with Verstappen right on his gearbox, something which led to the 103-time race winner questioning the Germans’ decision to pit Russell.

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Hamilton was convinced that pitting Russell so early disadvantaged him, something the team didn’t agree with.

“This has put me at a massive disadvantage,” Hamilton said over the team radio.

“We don’t think so, Max stayed out as well,” replied his race engineer.

Through remarkable luck, the team were absolutely correct, with the race having been red flagged just seconds later after Alex Albon crashed.

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It meant Hamilton maintained the race lead and was able to have a fresh set of tyres fitted during the stoppage, costing Russell considerable time.

When the race eventually restarted, Hamilton had no response to Verstappen’s exceptional pace, with the Dutchman having overtaken the Mercedes driver with ease.

Hamilton went on to claim second relatively comfortably, despite some pressure mid-race from Fernando Alonso.

He ended up being the only Mercedes driver to finish after Russell suffered a shock power unit failure, something that Hamilton wants looked into.

P2 is certainly a result that Hamilton needed to kickstart his 2023 campaign, although, he did admit after the race that he remains “uncomfortable in the car”.

“It was a crazy race,” Hamilton said in his post-race interview.

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“A huge thank you to everyone in Australia and Melbourne. I’ve had the best week this week. The weather has been amazing. This track and town continue to put on a great show.

“Really unlucky for George today, we’ll have to look into it. Our reliability generally has been really good. Its really unfortunate but otherwise getting the points is amazing today. I didn’t expect to be second, so I’m super grateful for it.

“I am still uncomfortable in the car. I still don’t feel connected to it. I’m driving with the disconnect. I’m trying best to create that connect but it’s a long project.

“Still, considering we’re down on performance and straight pace compared to the Red Bulls, having a battle with Aston Martin is amazing. Let’s keep pushing! Thank you to everyone in the factory. We can close the gap, it’s going to be tough but not impossible.”