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Juan Pablo Montoya has noticed clear disparities between the performances of Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Colombian feels Russell has the edge over his team-mate in qualifying but when it comes to the grand prix, that is when the seven-time former World Champion shows his class.
The stats do not actually back that up, with the qualifying head-to-head score for the season being 3-3 and Russell holding a 28-point lead over Hamilton in the Drivers’ standings.
But Montoya pointed to the Spanish Grand Prix, in which Hamilton recovered to finish fifth after an early collision with Kevin Magnussen that left him well off the back of the pack, as evidence that the 37-year-old’s race pace can still serve as a lesson to Russell – who ran in the leading group throughout in Barcelona and ended up on the podium in third.
That came after a team radio message from Hamilton amid his early problems in which he had suggested retiring the car to preserve the engine.
“I think George, on one-lap pace, is doing a much better job than Lewis – he’s getting more out of the car on one lap,” said Montoya during the ‘Any Driven Monday’ programme on Sky F1.
“But you look at what Lewis did [on Sunday], it’s kind of weird that he went on the radio and told the guy ‘let’s park the car’ and kind of gave up.
“I understand why he did that, being at the back and thinking there’s nothing to do and the car hasn’t been competitive the last few races.
“So I think it was a surprise for him how quick the car was through the race and if you look at it, I think if he didn’t have the incident on the first lap he probably would have had a chance to win the race.
“The other thing that’s different, I think he got excited halfway through the race when he started getting to the points and he saw his pace being really quick. I think it got him excited to run harder and harder and harder, and it’s fun!
“When Lewis is on his A-game, he’s hard. I think George can do a job on one lap but he’s got a lot to learn from Lewis on race pace. Same as when Valtteri [Bottas] was there, the pace of Lewis in the races was incredible.”
Montoya also discussed the motivation of Hamilton in trying to fight back from such an unpromising position in Spain when he has 103 race victories and seven Drivers’ titles to his name.
“You’ve got to go and do a pit-stop that took a long time to change because when the tyre is flat, they cannot get the jack under the car. You would think there is probably front wing damage and everything.
“So at that point, you start the race and you are 60-70 seconds behind the leader. It’s like ‘what are we doing, what are we going to achieve, are we doing all this to get a couple of points?’
“When you look at it from Lewis’ point of view, I understand it because he’s used to cars that can win races and score 25 points every weekend. But when you’re scoring for eighth to 10th place, it’s hard.
“But the team made the right call telling him to stay in it and, impressively enough, he really didn’t give up. When they told him he needed to go, he got on with the job and it was good to see.”
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