Verstappen Claims Pole, Russell, Hamilton Collide at Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying

Formula One: United States Grand Prix

During the Spanish Grand Prix qualifying, Lewis Hamilton criticized a move by his fellow British driver George Russell, which resulted in a collision between the two Mercedes teammates. However, both drivers quickly dismissed any tensions within the team, claiming it was a misunderstanding and shaking hands afterward.

Max Verstappen secured pole position for the race, further asserting his dominance in the 2023 F1 Season. Behind him, there is intense competition among various manufacturers, with six different cars in the top six on the grid.

Mercedes Clarifies Mishap

Despite the collision, Hamilton managed to qualify in fifth place, while Russell was eliminated in 12th. Hamilton expressed frustration over the radio, stating that Russell’s backing off was dangerous and might have caused damage to his car. Russell later apologized over the radio, but also mentioned his difficulties in the session, citing issues with the car bouncing and tire performance.

Both drivers were summoned by the stewards to explain the incident. However, when they appeared for media duties, they, along with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, downplayed the incident as a “big miscommunication.”

Hamilton had to replace his front wing for Q3 due to the collision with Russell in the closing stages of Q2. While both Mercedes drivers were starting their hot laps, Hamilton moved out of Russell’s slipstream at high speed on the main straight. However, Russell unintentionally closed the door on Hamilton as he was overtaking Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari, forcing Hamilton onto the grass.

Hamilton mentioned front wing damage and potential damage to the car’s floor but didn’t dwell on it, acknowledging that they couldn’t compete with Red Bull regardless. Overall, he was in good spirits due to the significant progress made with the car’s upgrades.

Russell, on the other hand, expressed frustration and described the collision as a “big miscommunication.” He explained that Hamilton was not aware that he was starting a lap as well, and Russell was focused on getting slipstream from Sainz. He emphasized the need for better communication within the team to prevent such incidents.

Hamilton has had Previous Qualifying Collision

Interestingly, Hamilton and his former teammate Nico Rosberg had a notorious collision at the same track in 2016. Wolff acknowledged that collisions between teammates or with other cars should never happen in qualifying and highlighted the need to review communication within the team to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Sergio Pérez, Verstappen’s closest challenger in the championship, had a disappointing qualifying session, finishing 11th. He ran through the gravel but managed to avoid crashing into the wall. However, his subsequent lap wasn’t quick enough to advance to Q3.

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