Bradley Lord has insisted that the team will have a talk following the tense encounter between their drivers during the race in Suzuka.
The Japanese Grand Prix was not an easy one for Mercedes, who suffered more than in Singapore. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell could only manage seventh and eighth respectively in qualifying, and their main target for Sunday was to beat Ferrari, their closest rivals in the constructors' championship.
Hamilton had a touch with Sergio Perez at the start which almost sent him off the track and, with the chaos of the first lap and the safety car, both Mercedes drivers held their positions, and had a nice battle after the restart in which the seven-time world champion was able to stay ahead.
After that, both tried different strategies, with Hamilton going for two pit stops while Russell was the only driver on the grid to go for just one stop.
“I think it was just a bit of a battle out there. From the point where Lewis had that contact with Perez moving over on the straight," explained Mercedes chief Bradley Lord after the race.
"Put us on the back foot, we lost positions on lap one. Then it was just a question of what we could salvage and how far we can fight back from there. Lewis drove to the absolute limit of the car on his two stop.
"With George we rolled the dice on the one stop and tried to see if we could make that work," he added. "Ultimately, yeah fifth and seventh is better than sixth and seventh and helps us minimise points loss to Ferrari."
Tense moments in the Mercedes garage towards the end of the race
The two Mercedes drivers met again on track towards the end of the race, after Hamilton completed an undercut on Sainz and caught Russell, who was running fifth on older tyres.
The Ferrari driver was running close behind Hamilton, and there was discussion over the team radio as to whether Russell should let his his team-mate pass to protect him from Sainz, which eventually happened, albeit with some resistance.
In the end, Hamilton was able to hold on to fifth position, while Russell was unable to hold off Sainz. There were some tense moments in the Mercedes garage, and Lord explained that they would analyse and talk to the drivers about what happened.
“They raced each other hard at a hard racers’ track," said Lord. "It’s always easy to read a lot into those radio messages in the heat of the moment, but as always, we do the talking about it a little bit out of the pressure and out of the high temperatures of the cockpits here today in Suzuka and in the engineering debrief afterwards.
"That’s where anything will get tidied up that needs tidying up. One stop ultimately worked for Lewis, with George, he was well ahead of Alonso and comfortably ahead of the cars behind. It offered the opportunity to Sainz to potentially get the second Ferrari. Didn’t quite work out ultimately, but it was worth the gamble," he concluded.
In this way, the 'Silver Arrows' strategy didn't quite work out in Suzuka, with Charles Leclerc finishing ahead of Hamilton and Sainz sandwiched between the two Mercedes drivers, bringing Ferrari a bit closer in the constructors' championship.
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