George Russell hits back at ‘luck’ claim from Lewis Hamilton
George Russell has hit back at Lewis Hamilton’s claim that his quicker laps over the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend were down to luck.
Russell finished fourth in Jeddah, after being demoted off the podium following Fernando Alonso’s reinstatement to third place, with Aston Martin lodging a successful appeal.
Hamilton came home fifth, but with Russell superior in both qualifying and in the second stint on race-pace, the seven-time world champion insisted he could “only match Russell’s pace rather than be quicker” after the pair opted for different setups.
Hamilton added that “more often than not” Russell would have been on the “wrong one [setup]” yet the 25-year-old rejected the notion his superior display was down to luck, as opposed to preparation.
"I don’t think there’s any luck in it at all, I think it’s down to the preparation you put in before the event," Russell said on Thursday, ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
"The changes we made overnight, I knew that was going to be the right direction with the work we did with the team.
“And I believed it was going to be better than the setup that Lewis opted for.
"I think everybody’s got different preferences, I was happy with the direction I took and the work I’m doing with the engineers."
Hamilton clarified his post-Saudi comments in Melbourne on Thursday, saying: “I want to reiterate how great a job George did on the weekend.
"I think the thing I was commenting on is that there’s one specific thing that you can change in the suspension that you have to do over Friday night.
"And when you make that change, once you start P3 (final practice), you can’t change it for the rest of the weekend, so when you make that change, you’re basically rolling the dice - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
"I’ve done it in the past, sometimes it hasn’t worked, sometimes it has, and it worked great for George and he did a great job.
"And the thing that I was lacking in the race was a lot of front end, which that setup gives you, so, in hindsight, that would’ve been great."
"We took lots of learnings from it - I think race pace was quite decent, particularly in the second stint.
"And for us to move forward and get fourth and fifth place was great points for the team and a great result considering where we are in terms of performance deficit."
Russell finished 35 points ahead of Hamilton last season in his rookie year for Mercedes, though Hamilton is currently ahead by two points this season as the Silver Arrows look to turn their campaign around at Albert Park this weekend.