Hamilton twice battled wheel-to-wheel with Mercedes teammate Russell on his way to finishing fifth at Suzuka, while the younger Briton came home seventh after gambling on the alternative one-stop strategy. 

The pair nearly collided during a duel that saw both run wide at Spoon, prompting a fiesty radio message from Russell, who asked “are we fighting each other or the others?”. 

In the closing stages, Mercedes instructed Russell to move aside for Hamilton, who was charging through the field on fresher tyres, leaving the former unhappy. 

“If you want to play the team game… he pushed me off the track earlier,” a frustrated Russell said on the radio. 

Speaking after the race, ex-F1 driver Chandhok noted clear tension between the Mercedes duo. 

“He [Hamilton] is 75 points ahead of George. He was quite quick to point that out!” Chandhok told Sky.

“There was needle with George. There is a little bit of needle between the two drivers.” 

On Russell’s strategy, Chandhok said: “He didn’t have too much to lose at that point. 

“If he did the two-stop which everyone else did, he would have ended up in the same place. 

“He was ahead of Alonso, they tried a gamble, he ended up ahead of Alonso. It was worth a punt, they finished seventh which is where they would have been anyway.” 

1996 F1 world champion Damon Hill said of Russell: “He’s smarting. Don’t forget what happened in Singapore, he dropped a load of points there. 

“He can see Lewis has gone way ahead in the driver’s championship. He wants a good result. 

“Two-stop, one-stop, he probably would have ended with the same result, and he has to suck that up.”