‘Not nice’: Ex-team boss gives verdict on Hamilton-Russell incident

Former Formula 1 team boss Paul Stoddart has given his take on the controversial collision between George Russell and Lewis Hamilton in qualifying.

Paul Stoddart, a former Formula 1 team boss, has stated that while Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff will have a word with George Russell following the British driver’s collision with Lewis Hamilton during the Spanish Grand Prix, he won’t need to reprimand the 25-year-old.

Despite the incident during qualifying, the race turned out to be Mercedes’ best performance of the season, with both Hamilton and Russell securing podium finishes behind Max Verstappen.

The Spanish Grand Prix presented an opportunity to assess how Mercedes’ upgrades fared against the competition. While Verstappen continues to dominate, Mercedes appeared to have moved ahead of Aston Martin in terms of performance.

However, their weekend nearly ended in frustration during Saturday’s qualifying session. Hamilton and Russell collided at speeds exceeding 180mph while starting their final Q2 qualifying laps. 

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Fortunately, both drivers were able to drive away from the incident, although Hamilton sustained front wing damage and briefly went onto the grass. 

The incident was attributed to a miscommunication and did not seem to affect their overall performance, but it remains a topic of discussion.

Stoddart, who previously managed the Minardi team, places the blame on Russell for the collision but believes that Wolff won’t need to intervene strongly to prevent a similar incident in the future. 

“I honestly think it was a mistake by George Russell when he ran into Lewis Hamilton in qualifying. He didn’t know he was there, but of course, it’s not nice to see,” Stoddart stated.

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“As a team boss, you tell your drivers before every race: ‘You can race and fight well, do what you want, but don’t touch each other.’ I have unfortunately faced such a situation, and it is not fun. The drivers know they’re wrong, so you don’t have to say much to them, but it shouldn’t happen.”

Stoddart was impressed by Mercedes’ performance in the race but believes that catching up to Red Bull is beyond the reach of Wolff’s team. 

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“Keep in mind they’re getting a little more wind tunnel time soon, definitely more than Red Bull. 

“I think I can say that Mercedes is moving in the right direction. But at the same time, ‘being the best team from the rest of the field’ is not enough for Mercedes. 

“The 25-second gap was due to Max Verstappen putting on a new set of softs, which he probably didn’t need. I really don’t believe Max was pushing in that car; he was just on cruise control on his way to the finish line to secure the win.”