Russell started second, but after giving space to Hamilton, he came out of the opening sequence of turns on the first lap to fourth, which he still held at the end of the race.
Russell admitted that recent frustrations, including his first encounter with the cornerback Carlos Sainz in Austin, encouraged him to take a cautious approach, especially during the battle with his teammate.
“I knew I couldn’t outrun Max [Verstappen] on the outside,” Russell said when asked by Motorsport.com about his first lap. “But having Lewis inside I didn’t want to be too aggressive, obviously he was my teammate.
“And it ended up costing me two positions. So at the end of the day, if I had been able to hold on to the position, I would probably have finished second today.”
Asked if he would have given the same space to anyone other than his teammate, Russell said: “Yeah, I think it was more in Turn 1, to be honest, usually I just would cross or in turn 2 run the driver wide.
“So, yeah, that’s how the game works sometimes. I would like to think that it would be the same if it were the other way around. Maybe or maybe not, I’m not too sure.
“But in the last three races I had some bad luck, too many incidents, too many mistakes. And this was probably the reason for the overly cautious attitude. And somewhere there is a balance.”
George Russell, Mercedes W13
Photo: Mark Sutton / Images of motor sports
Russell admitted to some frustration with the strategy he followed in Mexico. At the start of the race he indicated that he wanted to go long on his initial set of mediums and then switch to softs, a choice that was used with great success Daniel Ricardo. However, shortly after that announcement, he repeated Hamilton’s strategy by switching to hards.
“A lot of positives can be taken from the weekend,” he said. “It would also be interesting to see how we would perform if we started with soft and went to medium, or even if we extended the medium and went to soft at the end. This was what I was after in the car. Everything is easier in retrospect.”
Elaborating on the choice of strategy, he said: “There was no real thought to start with soft, but there was definitely a thought to expand the environment and move to soft.
“I’m not really sure, I think we reacted [Nicholas] Latifi and Lewis, they both went strong and installed green sectors everywhere. But the hard tire just didn’t work from the second lap.
“I think Pirelli brought too hard a compound this weekend. So soft was supposed to be medium, medium was supposed to be hard, and hard was like extra hard, effectively.
“So watching Ricciardo perform is also a little bit disappointing because I really felt like I could have continued on that medium at a good pace and we would have been flying at the end on something so soft.”
Russell made it clear on the radio that he wasn’t happy with the hard tires, but there was nothing the team could do. He eventually made a late extra stop to secure the fastest lap.
“I don’t think there was as much frustration as such,” he said. “You’re just trying to get your point across and when you’re out there it’s physically tough and there’s a lot going on and you’re fighting the car and it can come out that way.
“But I was trying to get my point across. I felt good on the medium. The pace looked strong before Lewis pitted, I closed the gap. When I was leading, I was setting personal bests.
“Like I said, in hindsight it’s so simple and maybe we should have recognized that there was no way I could have overtaken Checo on the hard tire and the only way would have been to put the soft.”