Russell on battling Hamilton in Miami: ‘You leave a bit more room for your team-mate’

George Russell beat Sir Lewis Hamilton to fifth in Miami after an entertaining battle between the Mercedes pair.

Mercedes driver George Russell does not know if he would have been able to catch Sergio Perez for fourth place in Miami had he been able to pass team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton earlier.

Having been eliminated in Q2, Russell started the race on Hards, and was able to capitalise on a late Safety Car to pit and re-join just behind his team-mate on fresh Mediums.

After a lengthy squabble for position, he dispatched the 37-year-old, who was on old Hards at the time, before finishing the race fifth.

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The 24-year-old was told to give the position back to his team-mate after he had made the first pass illegally, costing him time to Perez and Carlos Sainz, who had engaged in a battle for the final podium place.

The young Briton is glad that both he and the seven-time champion came out of their fight unscathed.

“Obviously you leave a bit more room when you’re battling with your team-mate than you ordinarily would do,” he said.

“I was told I had to swap positions back and that was a little bit frustrating as I was catching the guys ahead. Fortunately we all came home in one piece.”

Russell described his race as “brutal” due to the scorching heat in Florida, but Jenson Button quipped that no one had any sympathy for him on that.

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“I was pushing as hard as I could,” he said.

“It was a brutal race out there, it was so hot, [I was] sweating, my eyes were stinging.

“I had sweat pouring into my eyes so I need to find a way to get around that.”

“No one’s feeling sorry for you, you’re driving an F1 car,” joked Button.

“I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain,” replied Russell.

He divulged that he was starting to believe there might be a possibility of catching the cars ahead, but concedes that Mercedes’ pace deficit is simply too great at present.

“There was one point when I thought: ‘here we go, we’re getting a bit closer but ultimately those guys are just quicker than us and we need to unlock this performance that we do have in the car,” he explained.

Hamilton’s splendid performance this weekend was essentially undone when he lost the position to his team-mate by virtue of the Safety Car, and he laments that fact that his simply is not up at the moment.

“George was on the best tyre to start with, and in hindsight maybe I could have started on the hard tyre. But he did a great job to recover from his starting position,” said the seven-time champion.

“He was fair and had fresh tyres so I was a bit of a sitting duck. I am waiting for a change in fortune, but until then I will keep working as hard as I can.”

Team principal Toto Wolff did not leave Miami with a beaming smile on his face despite his drivers’ haul of points, as he recognises the abundance of work they have to do to get back on the right track.

“At the end of the day there is no happy or not happy moment at the moment just because we’re a bit down,” he stated.

“We’re third quickest on the road and we’re in no man’s land. We had a good Friday. We need to dissect why that was and then come back.

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“This is where we are. We’re not as quick in qualifying and we are behind the Red Bulls and Ferrari.”

Mercedes now lie 62 points adrift of Ferrari after five rounds of the 2022 season, the furthest back they have been from the leaders since 2013.