Sir Lewis Hamilton was not best pleased with his Mercedes team after their indecisiveness regarding his strategy under the Safety Car in Miami.
Hamilton had been running in sixth place behind Valtteri Bottas in Florida with Russell in fifth after starting the race on Hards due to his elimination in Q2 on Saturday skewing his strategy.
The 24-year-old was waiting out for a Safety Car, and duly got one when Pierre Gasly hit Lando Norris, meaning that, not too dissimilarly from the Australian Grand Prix, Russell was afforded a cheap pit stop.
They both cleared Bottas after the Mercedes driver made a mistake at the end of the lap, and an exciting battle between the two Britons eventually saw Russell come out on top on his fresh Mediums to finish fifth ahead of the seven-time champion.
This compounded what might have been an already damaged car after Hamilton was tagged by Fernando Alonso on the opening lap, but he is not sure to what degree this may have impacted his afternoon.
“I don’t quite know [if there was damage],” he told Sky Sports.
“The car definitely didn’t feel the same as it [on] the laps to the grid so I’m sure they’ll check it but probably the corner weight’s just a little bit… it was quite a hard hit but probably the corner weight was pulling just a little bit but otherwise it should be okay.
“I was doing the best I could. [It is] pretty unfortunate but we got good points for the team today so we’ll take them and move on.”
During the Safety Car, the Mercedes crew neglected to bring Hamilton in to mirror what Russell was doing, despite the fact that they might have had the window to do so if they had double stacked.
In the end, they asked the 37-year-old what he wanted to do, but he could not discern whether he lost time as a legacy of staying out because he did not know where he was relative to everyone else, leaving him irritated at the engineers’ hesitance.
“Honestly I really don’t know,” he stated.
“In that scenario, I have no clue where everyone is and so when the team say it’s your choice, I’m like ‘I don’t have the information to make the decision so that’s what your job is! Like make the decision for me, you’ve got all the details, I don’t.’
“So, that’s what we rely on the guys for but today they gave it to me and I don’t understand it but anyways [I was] just a bit unfortunate on the Safety Car and as I said at least we got points today.”
With Mercedes bringing upgrades to the Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks, the 103-time race winner hopes the German outfit can start climbing back to the top.
“We’re finishing, reliability is good. We just have to keep trying to… it would be exciting at some stage to take a step forwards which we haven’t yet,” he explained.
The slice of misfortune for Hamilton now means that he has finished behind his younger team-mate in all of the last four races, and sits 23 points adrift of Russell in the Drivers’ Championship.