Lewis Hamilton reveals damage suspicions as he explains George Russell swap

Lewis Hamilton thinks he picked up damage to his Mercedes F1 car on the first lap in Japan.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in qualifying parc ferme. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Japanese Grand Prix,
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in qualifying parc ferme. Formula 1…

Lewis Hamilton has revealed he picked up possible damage to his Mercedes F1 car as he explained why he swapped positions with teammate George Russell.

The seven-time world champion, who is moving to Ferrari next year, endured a frustrating Japanese Grand Prix as he finished ninth and two places behind Russell.

Hamilton voluntarily gave up position to Russell in the early stages of Sunday’s race at Suzuka after coming over team radio to suggest a swap.

"I think I picked up a bit of damage at the beginning with Charles [Leclerc], he came around the outside,” Hamilton explained to Sky.

"I had huge understeer for the first stint. I couldn’t turn the car through any of the corners. That’s why I let George by.”

Hamilton implored midway through the race for his Mercedes team to “change the strategy” after a bold call to switch to hard tyres following a first-lap red flag failed to pay off.

Asked what could have been gained if Mercedes opted for a different strategy, Hamilton replied: “Nothing, I don’t think. I don’t know what the different strategy would have been.

“Whether it was the mediums to start with? But we still had two terrible hard tyres to run through. It was a real challenge today.

“The hard tyre was pretty bad. The medium tyre was much better.

"So yes, for sure, in hindsight, it looks like we should have had two medium tyres. But, in general, the car was pretty bad today.”

Hamilton was optimistic after a positive Friday practice in Japan, saying Mercedes had their “best session of the year", but he ended up downbeat after another topsy-turvy weekend.

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