Why Russell got new Mercedes F1 front wing over Hamilton in Monaco

Speaking about the 0.078-second gap between them as they lined up fifth and seventh, Hamilton was eager to suggest that he never had any realistic chance of beating Russell because of their different-specification cars.

“The team has worked really hard back at the factory to bring an upgrade in the last two races and also an upgrade this weekend — but we only had one, which George has,” he told Sky. “I anticipated it would be difficult to outqualify George because he has the upgraded component.

“Once we get to qualifying, I don’t understand. I already know automatically that I’m going to lose two-tenths going into qualifying.

“That’s definitely frustrating and it’s something that I don’t really have an answer for at the moment. I’m not driving any different. The laps are really great. Just, I don’t know.”

Hamilton went on to suggest that he did not expect to ever outqualify Russell again this season, and then later told the written media that he did not know what was happening to his car on Saturdays.

“Since the start of qualifying, it’s like… I don’t know if it’s a turn-down or something of performance,” he said. “But performance comes away from my car, for some reason. So, a bit frustrating that we’re only seventh.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Hamilton’s remarks could be interpreted as a hint that things were not entirely equal at Mercedes – and perhaps even that Russell was being given preferential treatment because he is the one who had the wing.

After all, Russell is remaining with the team next year while Hamilton has already decided to move on and join Ferrari.

However, the reality of how Mercedes chose which driver ran the wing was not a matter of picking one over the other.

Instead, Autosport understands that, with the team aware it would have only one version of the wing, the option of running the new wing was given to both drivers and it emerged that Hamilton made clear that he preferred not to go with it.

Firstly, there was the desire to have a more stable platform throughout practice and qualifying so he could build up his confidence around the track – rather than risk switching around configurations.

Plus, with the new wing being a different specification to the version run so far this season, there was an added risk from heading into qualifying with no spare.

With parc ferme rules in place, if the wing had been damaged in an incident, then a switch to revert to the other specification would have meant a breach of these regulations – and a pitlane start.

While Hamilton may have been a bit frustrated by knowing that he had a bit of a disadvantage this weekend, the team is at least sure things will be totally equal next time out in Canada.

As Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: “We’ll have that on both cars for the next race in Montreal.”

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