Debate has been sparked about the intra-team dynamic at Mercedes after Hamilton claimed teammate Russell’s superior performance in Saudi Arabia a fortnight ago was down to a “50-50” set-up call. 

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Russell, who comfortably out-qualified and out-raced Hamilton in Jeddah, countered the seven-time world champion’s comments in the build up to this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, stressing there was no “luck” involved. 

After Russell once again headed Hamilton in Friday’s rain-affected second practice in Melbourne, team boss Wolff confirmed the pair had opted for alternative set-ups. 

“We tried two different things on both cars,” Wolff told Sky. “It worked on one car, not on the other. So it’s a good direction that we’ve got.” 

Asked about the set-up directions picked by his two drivers last time out in Jeddah, Wolff said: “I think the drivers got to do what they believe is right for their car. 

“Everyone is pursuing the set-up directions and that changes between Friday and Saturday very often. Then you realise that one set-up is maybe better than the other one.

“But it’s not that we are coming up with set-ups that they have to run.” 

Russell finished fourth-fastest and was pleased with the progress he made from FP1. 

"FP2 was a little bit frustrating with the weather coming in but it was a reasonable session for us,” he explained. 

“We definitely made a step from FP1, which is a good thing. FP1 I wasn't very happy with the car. FP2 I was pretty happy.

"We know we are not where we need to be as a team. We know we have more to come in a couple of races time.

"We just need to maximise our chances and try to have a similar weekend to Jeddah when we exceeded the potential of the car.”

Hamilton, who was second-fastest in FP1, could only manage a time good enough for 13th after seeing his dry-weather running curtailed by a decision to pit for set-up changes. 

"This morning was good, this afternoon wasn't so good,” he said. “The car is similar [to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia]. It felt a bit better this morning.

"We made some changes, didn't work, so we will revise them tonight. Then it rained so it wasn't the greatest of sessions.

"We won't be competing with the Red Bulls. I think we have the pace to be around fifth, same as the last race."