Lewis Hamilton takes “full responsibility” for F1 Qatar GP collision with teammate George Russell

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On a weekend full of talking points at the Qatar Grand Prix, Mercedes provided another one as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell came together on the opening lap of the race.

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Using his soft tyres, Hamilton tried to sweep around the outside of his teammate and Verstappen at the start. Unfortunately for the seven-time World Champion, he just failed to provide his teammate with enough room and they came together.

With Hamilton’s right rear wheel falling off, his day was done. Russell drove a storming race to recover from a puncture to finish P4.

Russell was extremely frustrated on team radio on multiple occasions during the Safety Car period about what had gone on. Eventually Toto Wolff had to step in to ask him to focus on the race, which he duly did.

Russell explained they had planned on working together at the start as they look to cement P2 in the Constructors’ Championship over Ferrari.

“Of course frustrated because it was such a big, missed opportunity for both of us. We have got one goal and that is to finish P2 in the Constructors’ Championship.

“We had a lot of discussions this morning about how we were going to work together. The fight wasn’t with each other, it was with Ferrari.

“Fortunately we still came away with more points than them this weekend.”

It’s the first time since they became teammates that Russell and Hamilton collided. It also comes just two weeks after the Japanese Grand Prix where they came close to touching on multiple occasions.

On team radio after the contact, Lewis Hamilton stated he got taken out by his teammate. However, he backtracked on that when speaking to the media post-race.

“I think in the heat in the moment I felt… I was obviously frustrated because I felt this tap from the rear end. But I don’t think George had anywhere to go.

“I think it was just an unfortunate scenario, I’m happy to take responsibility as that’s my role. I need to go back and look at it, but I don’t feel like it was George’s fault.”

As stated previously, Hamilton started on the softs. With Verstappen and Russell, he had a golden opportunity to take the lead on the opening lap. The 103-time Grand Prix winner felt it wasn’t too risky to go for it into turn 1 because of that.

Hamilton also confirmed the discussions about working together in the race.

“No, I mean I had the soft tyre and everyone around me had the better medium tyre. I needed to get by. I tried going around the outside of Max but just didn’t work out.”

“Before the race we knew that we had different tyres, so he was like ‘let’s just work together today’. So we were talking about working together.

“It was not our plan to come together. Just really gutting for the team because we’ve all worked so hard to be in that position. Just really sad for everybody for my part in it.

“It’s frustrating whoever you touch with, but it’s frustrating when both of us spun out and ultimately went down the order.”

Russell and Hamilton both said things will be absolutely fine between them as they plan on discussing and clearing everything up.

“Lewis and I will be fine. We have a huge amount of respect for each other. Nothing was intentional from my side,” said Russell.

“I definitely appreciate him apologising for that, for sure. As I said on the radio, you know, in every incident it involved two people and definitely appreciate what he said.”

“The relationship isn’t broken,” Hamilton added. “I don’t have any I have any problems with George. We have a great relationship and we always talk about things.

“This is definitely unfortunate and I’m sure he was frustrated in the moment, like I was. But we’ll talk about it offline and we’ll move forwards. This apologies to all the team.”

Hamilton ultimately took to social media after reviewing the incident and said: “I’ve watched the replay and it was 100% my fault and I take full responsibility. Apologies to my team and to George.”

To compound a miserable evening, the seven-time World Champion was handed a 50,000 euro fine for crossing a live track after his DNF, half of it suspended for the rest of the year. That is providing he doesn’t have a repeat offence.

A replay showed him just on the inside of turn 1 walking back as Russell came flying out of the pits after his stop.

“The driver is fined €50,000, €25,000 of which is suspended for the remainder of the 2023 season on condition that there is no further breach of similar nature,” the stewards stated.

“The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), team representative

and reviewed video evidence.

“After crashing out of the race in Lap 1, the driver of Car 44 abandoned his car in the

gravel and ran back to the pits. He thereby crossed the track that was live at this time

and reached the inside edge of the track just seconds before Car 63 arrived at high

speed after exiting the pits. He then continued to walk alongside the track until finally exiting the track.

“During the hearing the driver of Car 44 was very apologetic and realised that the

situation could have been very dangerous for him as well as the drivers approaching.

“The Stewards reinforced the fact that crossing a live track can cause extremely

dangerous situations and the drivers have to be very cautious about it.”

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team