Mercedes is not in the market for “puppy dogs” but rather seeks out “lions” to lead their charge.
This fierce and competitive spirit is embodied by their driver lineup, featuring the seasoned champion Lewis Hamilton and the young talent George Russell.
As the two drivers continue to push boundaries, Mercedes acknowledges the tension that comes with such ambitions.
The tension within the team came to a head during the Qatar Grand Prix when Hamilton and Russell collided in the early stages of the race.
Lining up second and third on the grid, Russell attempted to challenge pole-sitter Max Verstappen, while Hamilton, on soft tires, aimed to pass them both on the outside.
A misjudgment led to contact between Hamilton and Russell, ultimately ending Hamilton’s race as he lost a tire and landed in the gravel.
Bradley Lord, Mercedes’ communications chief, referred to the incident as the “worst scenario” for the team.
He explained, “It’s clear that lap one, two cars coming together and one in the gravel, one in the pits, is pretty much the worst scenario that a racing team can see.
“Number one is you never want to see the cars making contact.
“So Lewis went in around the outside of Turn 1, George didn’t really have anywhere to go, and they made contact.”
Hamilton promptly issued an apology to Russell and the team on social media, and he personally approached his teammate to express remorse.
While both drivers stress there are no hard feelings, the rivalry and accompanying tension seem to be growing.
Lord believes that a degree of tension is natural, stating, “It’s not my job to smooth everything out.
“There should be a little bit of tension there because they are competitors, and we don’t want puppy dogs in the car; we want lions, and that’s what we’ve got.
“So, of course, there’s tension, and the real challenge is how do you build a healthy and a trusting relationship?
“And how do you work together as a team in order to achieve the team’s objectives?
“And they’re both really able to do that.”
Russell displayed resilience after his early pitstop, recovering to finish in fourth place by executing a four-stop strategy compared to McLaren’s three-stopper.
While he was 30 seconds behind Lando Norris in the battle for the final podium spot, Mercedes couldn’t help but contemplate what might have been had the opening lap drama not occurred.
Lord noted that Russell’s recovery provided both positive and reflective perspectives, saying, “There’s a difference in intention and at each other’s throats.
“But they are racing hard.”
He continued, “P2, P3, and a double podium would have been just reward, I think, for the job the team has done this weekend.”
Despite the on-track tension, Mercedes remains second in the Constructors’ Championship, holding a 28-point advantage over Ferrari as they look ahead to future races.