On the 50th lap of the Miami GP, sixth-placed George Russell overtook teammate Lewis Hamilton at turn 12 of the street circuit, in the final moments of the race. However, shortly afterwards, the Mercedes newcomer returned the position to the seven-time champion – but soon after, he passed once more and crossed the finish line in fifth place.
Russell returned the position to Hamilton because, at one point in the overtake, he put all four tires of his W13 off the track. After the race, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff clarified that he did not speak to race director Niels Wittich, but received a direct instruction on how to proceed in the situation.
“There was no dialogue with the FIA (Federation Internationale de Automobilismo) and I think that’s the way it has to be. They (FIA) who came to us and said: ‘Russell and Hamilton need to switch positions,’” revealed Wolff.
It is worth remembering that, in 2021, the constant – and long – conversations between team bosses and the then race director Michael Masi became a point of attention (and controversy) in Formula 1. In Abu Dhabi, for example, Wolff asked that the safety car after Nicholas Latifi’s crash into the wall did not enter the track, while Christian Horner demanded that cars between Hamilton and Max Verstappen could overtake the safety car.
As of this year, together with the new technical regulations, F1 prohibited direct contact between bosses and the race director – to shield Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas from the pressure exerted by the teams’ representatives.
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Also after the race, Russell regretted the order to reverse positions, but preferred to emphasize the “good and respectful” dispute with Hamilton. “Obviously you have to leave a little more space than you normally would when vying for position with your teammate. That’s a corner where you can’t really judge where the track ends – there’s just a white line to signal that.”
“When I was told I had to return the position, it was a little frustrating because I was starting to catch up with the cars in front. But luckily, we both managed to finish the race in one piece.”
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