Mercedes explains Russell/Hamilton collision in Spain: 'It looks silly, but it wasn't'

Red Bull have won all six races in Formula One this season, while Mercedes trail far behind. Emmanuele Ciancaglini/Ciancaphoto Studio/Getty Images

MONTMELO, Spain -- Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said the collision between his two drivers during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix may have "looked silly" but was a simple case of miscommunication.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton collided at over 180mph on the pit straight as they started their final Q2 qualifying laps, with Hamilton receiving front wing damage as he was forced onto the grass.

Russell, who was outside the cut to make it through to Q3, had aborted his previous lap and only had enough time for one more attempt, while Hamilton was also lining up his final lap of the session.

The two ended up sharing the same part of the track, with Russell attempting to gain a slipstream from Carlos Sainz ahead of him and then, unaware his teammate was behind him, cut back across Hamilton and caused the collision.

"It's all down to miscommunication because drivers in the same team don't want to crash into each other on their final lap of qualifying," Wolff said. "It was just an unfortunate situation where George just lodged a lap and Lewis had his last opportunity and didn't think that George was starting another lap.

"It looks silly, but it wasn't. It was just miscommunication."

Russell added: "Just a massive miscommunication. I was looking ahead trying to get the slipstream from Carlos, and next thing Lewis was there, so, we need to talk internally how that happened because [with] two teammates that should never happen. It wasn't either [of our] fault, Lewis probably just didn't know I was starting a lap too."

Hamilton said the initial plan was for Russell to set his time first and then Hamilton to set a time was designed to offer a slipstream to one another, which added to the confusion.

"Well, we were sent out much different times," he said. "I was being given my time when I was on my out-lap, everyone's starting from that Turn 12, when I came out of Turn 12 there was no-one ahead so I got on the gas, I started to pick up the pace.

"I came around Turn 13 and George looked like he was going into the pit lane, so I kept it going and all of a sudden he cut back across, which was obviously a bit confusing because I didn't even know he was there. I think he had bailed out of his first lap or something like that.

"So then I was towing him, and just in case he was giving me a tow and then he started to move to the right so I was like 'Oh he is giving me a tow', so went to the left and he started coming back across. So just a misunderstanding."

Wolff said the team would go back through its radio communications with the cars to learn from the incident.

"You know, it should never happen," he said. "Teammates should never collide and even with another car, you shouldn't collide in qualifying.

"This is a team effort and there is something in our communications that we need to review after that happened to avoid it in the future. But that was not a dramatic situation. The car was just not quick enough.

"At the end it is a trivial incident that just looked silly."

The incident was investigated by the stewards, but Russell was not found guilty of impeding due to mitigating circumstances.

"The driver of Car 63 [Russell] stated that as he was just starting his fast lap he was looking forward and had not checked his mirrors," the stewards said. "His team did not inform him of the approach of Car 44.

"However, in mitigation, he was reacting to the car in front of him (Car 55) which had just finished its fast lap. In addition at the end of his out lap the driver of Car 63 had to slow significantly to avoid impeding Cars 1 and 55."