‘A total mess from start to finish’ – Hamilton and Russell reflect after tripping over each other in ‘rubbish’ Spa Sprint Shootout
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were left to reflect on what the latter called a “mess” of a Sprint Shootout at Spa-Francorchamps, as the Mercedes drivers were seen getting in the way of each other on their final laps in SQ3, hampering their hopes of a potential pole position for the Sprint.
Hamilton – who took pole in Budapest – had looked in contention for the another top spot this weekend, with the four-time winner of the Belgian GP finding himself on provisional pole ahead of Max Verstappen after their first runs in SQ3.
However, on his final run, he started his lap close to Russell before nearly colliding with his team mate on the run down to the Kemmel Straight. This meant Hamilton ended up qualifying seventh, much to his frustration.
Talking to the media after jumping out of the updated W14, Hamilton was asked how he felt about the conclusion to the session. He said: “Not happy about it obviously. It was a really fun session, and it was looking great at the end.
“Obviously I had that lap [in SQ3] that put me first for the first lap that I’d done, and I knew that I could have gone quicker. I reckon I could have been first or second on that last lap. Communication was pretty poor. It was difficult to understand.
“We got to the last corner, and it was seven cars trundling around. We were led to believe we didn’t have any time left which is why we were pushing. But we had plenty of time. With George... it’s the way it is.”
Hamilton later said the incident with Russell “doesn’t really matter” as he turned his attention to going “forwards” in the Sprint, after admitting to feeling very happy with the performance of his car so far this weekend.
“I feel great in the car, in all conditions,” said Hamilton. “We’re a little bit slower than the [Red] Bulls in the middle sector, but none of us have driven in the heavier fuel. I’m excited it is dry today, so hopefully we can have a good race.”
Russell gave his version of events after the Sprint Shootout, revealing that there was confusion as to the timing of things down at Mercedes, after what he described as a "mistake"-filled session on his side.
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“It was a total mess from start to finish, to be honest,” said Russell. “Surprised we got to Q3, because there were so many mistakes on my side, and a bit of miscommunication at the end.
“We were stressing about the clock finishing, and I think we had more time on the clock than we expected. I was too close to the car up front and Lewis was too close to me. Bad, bad session”
He continued to explain: “I thought we weren’t going to make the lap because the clock was running down, but there was definitely more time on the clock than we foresaw.
“Max was the last car to cross the line; I'm sure it was close for him. Total mess this weekend, it's not going to plan. Hope we can make a bit of recovery in the race. Definitely confident we will be quicker in the races, but so far, single-lap qualifying has been rubbish.”