That is the view of former F1 team manager Peter Windsor, who likened the dramatic first-lap collision between Hamilton and Russell at the Qatar Grand Prix to Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s infamous crash in Spain 2016.
Windsor reckons Mercedes’ decision to field a line-up consisting of two highly-competitive drivers has left them facing a self-inflicted headache, and one that will only become more complicated as their performance improves.
“Shades of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at Barcelona ,” Windsor said on YouTube.
“It’s a much deeper thing, this comes right back to the choice of George Russell as the other driver in the Mercedes.
“Because in this situation, when you’ve got Lewis Hamilton, who’s never going to be anything other than the seven-times World Champion who wants to win a grand prix, if the car is capable of letting him win it, if you’ve got Lewis in that car, you definitely need to have somebody like a Valtteri Bottas or a Sergio Perez in the other car.
“If you’re going to have them next to one another on the grid, which they were, P2 and P3, and you’re going to put one of them, i.e. the guy in P3, on soft tyres and the other guy on mediums, because what you would then need to do, what Lewis would need to do is before the race, they would need to say to the other driver, ‘Look, Lewis is on the soft tyre, he may well try something on the outside, so whatever you do, stay on the inside, and make sure that you two do not touch one another’.
“And you could have said that to a Valtteri, you could have said that to a Sergio Perez, you could say that to a Carlos Sainz probably, if he was in a Mercedes and Lewis was the other driver, but you can’t say it to a George Russell.
“George Russell is too much of a racer, he’s a proven winner already, there is absolutely no way in the world that George Russell would have accepted that.
“That accident was a straight result of choosing to have a driver, an aggressive fast racer like George Russell in the other car.
“Just imagine if Mercedes were in the running for the World Championship in any given situation in any given year. Imagine what it’d be like between Lewis and George Russell. The management have absolutely no control over them now and there is nothing they can do about it.
“Because there is no way you could ever say to George Russell ‘Lewis may well try to pass you on the outside, let him go’. It’s never going to happen. It’s not a conversation that George would even begin to listen to.”
Windsor has predicted it won’t be the last time Hamilton and Russell, who also battled hard at the previous race in Japan, will come to blows.
“I’m not saying you want a number two who’s slow,” he added. “I’m just saying you need a driver who is compliant and can work with the star driver you’ve got.
“Whether it’s Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, George Russell, a star in his own right, Oscar Piastri for sure, Charles Leclerc.
“And that’s the problem, you don’t have that at Mercedes, it’s an absolute gunfight and we saw that today. And it won’t be the last time that sort of thing will happen either.”