George Russell has said he won’t hold any grudges after his battle with teammate Lewis Hamilton at the 2023 Japanese GP, even as team orders from Mercedes possibly cost him fifth place.
Russell had to settle for seventh for Suzuka after being overtaken by the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz in the closing laps of the race, following an order from the pitwall to allow his teammate to pass him.
While Hamilton was asked to give DRS assistance to help Russell defend against the Spaniard, it proved insufficient as his worn hard tyres from a gamble on a one-stop strategy were no match for the chasing Ferrari.
The pair had a number of battles throughout the race, and despite Russell expressing frustration on the radio after the chequered flag, he said he didn’t have any major issues with how things played out.
“I view that as good hard racing. To be in the position to put him under pressure and making the moves on him, I was I was happy with that,” Russell told media after the race.
“So I’ll take a positive from the pace of the car, and the pace my side which I thought was really strong, considering how difficult the tyres have been to manage in the dry this weekend.
“It was just hard, fair racing. Of course we lost a bit of overall time fighting with one another, and again you are a bit frustrated on the radio, but that’s just part of racing.”
Hamilton doubts DRS made the difference
Lewis Hamilton also gave his take on the final stages of the race, saying that he didn’t believe the DRS was the deciding factor in Russell’s battle with Sainz.
“I knew that they obviously thought of it from the last race and it made no sense,” Hamilton said to the media. “I needed to get this car clear ahead as possible and I was on my way.
“I was around two seconds ahead and they asked me to give George the DRS so because of that I had to come off the gas down the straight to get him 0.8 behind.
“He got the DRS but then he got overtaken, which was going to happen because he was on a one-stop. Then Sainz got past him and then he was right on my tail so it was not ideal.”