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Lewis Hamilton complained he could not understand his new Mercedes race engineer in what could be a major issue for the seven-time champion this weekend. Hamilton’s usual race engineer Peter Bonnington is not in Spielberg for the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.

It means Hamilton’s performance director Marcus Dudley has been forced to take his place. However, Hamilton and Dudley appeared to struggle to understand each other during the first proactive session this afternoon.

It came after Dudley fired off instructions for Hamilton to change settings through his steering wheel. But the seven-time champion responded: “That was a lot of information. I didn’t understand what you just said.

“I didn’t understand what you said mate, what did you say about the switch.” Ted Kravitz appeared shocked at hearing Dudley’s voice over the radio, exclaiming: “Is that a different engineer!?”

READ MORE: Lewis Hamilton opens up on George Russell future at Mercedes

Rob Smedley had a very close relationship with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa when they were at the team together. He affectionately called Massa “baby” to calm the Brazilian during a red flag period at the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen and Lando Norris also have close relationships with their engineers Gianpiero Lambiase and Will Joseph. The Silver Arrows will be desperate to build on a solid performance at Silverstone last weekend.

Hamilton secured his third podium of the season while the team appeared visibly closer to the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari.