Hamilton reprimands Russell for ‘dangerous driving’ in qualifying

Hamilton reprimands Russell for 'dangerous driving' in qualifying

Lewis Hamilton accused teammate George Russell of “dangerous” driving after the Mercedes duo crashed at 200 mph during the Spanish Grand Prix qualifying.

The race on Sunday will get underway with Max Verstappen on pole ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on the first row as Lando Norris will start in an outstanding third place for McLaren.

Hamilton will start Sunday’s race in fourth despite an odd collision with Russell, who will start the race in 12th place, on the main straight at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.

The Mercedes duo was attempting to record hot laps in the waning seconds of Q2 when Hamilton pulled to his left to get out of Russell’s draft to take the racing line for the first right-hander curve. However, Russell closed the gap while he was focused on Sainz in front of him, forcing the seven-time world champion to take to the grass.

As Russell and Hamilton smashed into each other, Hamilton’s right front wing endplate flew off and scooped up dirt from the grass. Russell was eliminated despite Hamilton’s timing being sufficient for advance to Q3 and having to return to the pits for repairs.

“George just backed off,” said Hamilton over the radio. “That is really dangerous… He pulled over to the left… I might have some damage on the car.”

Meanwhile Russell said: “You didn’t tell me there was a car behind… I don’t know what the hell was going on in that session… The car was bouncing… I couldn’t get my tyres working.”

Both Mercedes drivers were asked to meet with the stewards to give their versions of the events. After it was determined that Russell hadn’t checked his mirrors, he was given a formal warning rather than being reprimanded.

Hamilton said he cleared the air with Russell after the first contact between the two as teammates. Russell abandoned his previous lap, which put the Mercedes drivers closer to the finish line than they had hoped.

“Lewis was not aware that I was starting a quick lap,” said Russell. “I was looking ahead to get the slipstream from Sainz.

“It was not something that either driver necessarily did wrong, but within the team it shouldn’t happen and the communication should have been better towards us.”

This comes as Hamilton and Nico Rosberg crashed on the opening lap of the same race in 2016 at the height of their tense relationship. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff threatened Rosberg and Hamilton with a suspension if they crashed once again.

Wolff was questioned over if the crash on Saturday during qualifying involving his current drivers brought up memories of that race in Spain seven years ago.

“No, it wasn’t shades of 2016,” he said. “I wish we were in the situation of 2016 where we’re so quick… But it shouldn’t happen. Team-mates should never collide and even with another car, you should never collide in qualifying.

“Lewis saw it as his last opportunity and didn’t think that George was on that line. It looks silly, but it wasn’t, it was just a miscommunication.

“This is a team effort and we need to review our communications to avoid it in the future.”

Verstappen will be the favorite to turn his pole position into his fifth victory in seven races this year as Mercedes collide with one another. The double world champion leads Sergio Perez in the standings by 39 points, but his Red Bull teammate starts the race only in position 11 after slipping over a puddle.

Charles Leclerc had a terrible qualifying session as well, finishing only 19th out of 20 racers. Fernando Alonso, who is the home favorite, starts eighth on the grid.

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