Mercedes Mastermind Spills Beans on Why Team Chose Lewis Hamilton Over George Russell

Published 09/27/2023, 10:30 AM EDT

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The 2023 Japanese GP gave us some rare and interesting glimpses into the teams on the grid, especially Mercedes. The Brackley outfit is currently defending its runners-up spot in the constructor’s table against Ferrari. Their fight against the Italian team was at its peak in Suzuka as the team tried to maximize their points tally from the race. However, according to many, the team’s decision to invert the cars of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell proved to be a mistake. The team order levied on Russell also invoked a series of annoyed radio messages from the young Brit which questioned the integrity of the move. Now, after the dust has settled, Mercedes’s mastermind Andrew Shovlin has explained the German team’s reasoning behind the decision.

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The fans had mixed feelings about the decision to swap the cars during the last stint of the race. Many showcased their annoyance toward the team’s preference for Hamilton whereas some were annoyed by Russell’s behaviors. Regardless, Carlos Sainz emerged as the main benefactor as the Spaniard passed Russell with relative ease to secure P6.  According to Shovlin, as quoted by Formula Passion, the team would’ve lost Hamilton’s track position as well had they not made the switch.

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“It was a difficult strategy to implement, but George did a great job,” Shovlin explained. He added, “Given the degradation of the tires, we had to prevent Lewis from losing position and, given that it was more likely that he would finish in front of Russell. Therefore, we have given instructions to reverse the cars.” [translated via Google]

As per Shovlin, Sainz would’ve passed both the Mercedes cars had they not reversed the positions. So a P5 and P7 was still a win for the team. However, despite the initial awkwardness of the race events in Suzuka, the two Mercedes men also understood the scenario and the assignment for the remaining six races.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are united in achieving Mercedes’s common goal

The team might’ve lost some points in Japan but there is still a 20-point gap between the two teams fighting for the P2 spot. Mercedes now plans to not only keep but extend this gap in the remaining six races. Although if you’re of thought that Russell would surely not comply after the Japanese GP, you’re mistaken. Both Hamilton and Russell have understood the assignment and will be acting in unity to achieve the common goal.

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Hamilton said, “Our ultimate goal is to try and get ahead of the Ferraris and that’s what my goal was today. It’s to beat the Ferraris in the constructor’s championship. That’s all that matters. We’re not fighting for a driver’s position in the championship because firstly we’re not close and secondly we’re not fighting for the championship so. Now it’s about just getting the maximum points for the team. I think that’s what we did here.”

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Russell echoed Hamilton’s comments and said, “At the end of the day, we need to score the maximum points possible. For me personally, the driver’s championship is totally out of the window this season. The objective is to finish P2 with the team ahead of Ferrari.“

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The two F1 powerhouses are locking horns again in back-to-back seasons for the same spot. Ferrari successfully sealed their P2 spot in 2022. Will Mercedes be able to exact revenge in 2023?

WATCH THIS STORY | Lewis Hamilton remains unwavering in his determination to halt Max Verstappen’s dominance, despite enduring significant neglect from the FIA

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Written by:

Mahim Suhalka

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Mahim Suhalka is a senior F1 Author at EssentiallySports. Having written over 1500 articles, Mahim specializes in core sports coverage. Having followed the sport for a long time, his articles contain excellent analysis of the sport and he dives deeper into the technicalities of this complex sport.
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Edited by:

Aishwary Gaonkar

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