Mercedes has explained the confusion behind the Lewis Hamilton-George Russell mix-up during the Sprint Shootout at the Belgian Grand Prix.
In Saturday’s session, Hamilton came across Russell on the exit of La Source and through the climb up Eau Rouge-Raidillon and onto the Kemmel Straight after a mistake from the younger Briton at the hairpin.
Both cars were subsequently unable to complete their final SQ3 laps, with Hamilton seventh and Russell 10th on the grid, with Chief Technical Officer Mike Elliott detailing the cause of the misunderstanding.
“In order to explain that, I think I first need to explain how difficult it is to get it right in the first place,” Elliott explained.
“When you have got a track that is drying, it is nearly always the case the quickest lap is going to be the very last lap of the fun and so your first laps are about getting a banker lap.
“Then as you to the end of the session you want to be at the right place so you are just about crossing the line at the end of the session with your tyres in the right window.
“So, we were pretty much heading towards that but what we could see was in the last corners, so in Turns 18 and 19, where you get to open the lap there was a lot of queuing, a lot of cars there, and so we were worried about getting over the line before the session ended.
“And we were asking our drivers to speed up, they thought they had less time available than they really did and as a result of that we ended up with our two cars too close together.
“As it happened, I think a number of cars were disadvantaged. A number of the cars were far too close together, so we weren’t the only ones that were struggling.
“Unfortunately for us, our two drivers tripping over each other pretty much meant that we didn’t get the laps that we wanted and therefore didn’t get the Sprint qualifying result we really hoped for.
“As always we’ll go back, we’ll review the footage, we’ll review the radio communications and we will see what learnings we can extract, work out how we can improve for the future. I am definitely sure there are some learnings we can extract from this weekend.”