However, the Mercedes camp managed to maintain internal cohesion despite these on-track challenges. The situation took a turn in Qatar, where Hamilton's attempt to pass Russell for P2 resulted in a misjudged move, ultimately ending Hamilton's race prematurely.
Russell: Close calls are normal
“I think it’s normal when you’re so close in performance, [and] when you’re lapping at the same lap times or you’re starting next to one another on the grid - you’re always going to be close," Russell told Autosport.
“We always go through our strategies [in] meetings. The pace difference between the two of us is zero. We’re always going to be going across a 24-race season, an average of 60 laps per race, we cross paths a lot and he’s the driver I cross paths with the most. So, I think that’s probably what we put it down to. I think also we trust one another.
“There may be tense [moments], it may be hard, but we trust one another. We know that we’ll give each other enough space to fight necessarily and not go beyond the limit.
"Obviously, Qatar was just a bit of a lap one small misjudgement. That’s another opportunity where it was another podium or even a potential victory missed.”
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