Several F1 fans were perplexed at Mercedes driver George Russell battling against his teammate Lewis Hamilton for P5 on the grid, given that Hamilton was clearly the faster driver between the two.
The Brit went for a two-stop strategy and was on fresher tires during the final part of the race when catching up against his teammate, who was on a very slow one-stop strategy. It was not easy for Lewis Hamilton to get past George Russell, and the team had to intervene to let the seven-time world champion through.
Like many at the track, F1 fans on social media were also left a bit confused by the battle between the two drivers. Letting Russell finish ahead of Hamilton would have been the right call from the team, as they would have gotten a P5 and P6 instead of Russell finishing P7.
F1 fans took to social media to react, with one fan questioning whether Mercedes threw away crucial points by letting Hamilton finish higher.
"Great job. A P5/6 turned into a P5/7 because you couldn't possibly let George finish ahead of Lewis," they wrote.
Here are some more reactions:
Mercedes F1 director speaks on the partnership between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell
Mercedes F1 Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin claimed that both drivers were in sync while talking about the weaknesses of the car, despite their seemingly contradicting statements in the media.
As per Motorsport.com, Sholvin said:
"Lewis and George together are always giving us feedback on where the weakness is. And whilst they might be identifying different causes of it, we know that, fundamentally, the car doesn't have enough stability. We know that they don't have the confidence to just throw it into a high-speed corner, and not have some concern that the rear is going to slide more than they want and be a bit of a challenge.
"Whilst you might see different comments in the press, the two of them are very aligned on where the weaknesses are, and where we need to improve it. And we're certainly not clinging on to any concepts that we have had before. We're very open-minded. We've had a pretty chastening couple of years, and we are a team that's working very hard to try and get back to the front."
It will be fascinating if, in the debrief post the Japanese GP, both Mercedes drivers remain in sync regarding their views on the race strategy.