Both Hamilton and Russell started second and third on the grid, respectively, in-between pole-sitter Max Verstappen and his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez in fourth.
Russell's tentative approach by not attacking meant he ended up losing places and finished in fourth position overall at race end, behind Verstappen, Hamilton and Perez.
The bottom line being had Russell been more aggressive he may have even finished second overall had he taken his chances when he had the opportunity over the first few laps of the race.
"I knew I wouldn't be able to overtake Max on the outside," Russell explained.
"But having Lewis on the inside, obviously being my team-mate, I didn't want to be too aggressive.
"Ultimately, that cost me and caused me to lose two positions.
"If I'd managed to maintain position, I probably would have finished second today.
"Lots of positives to take away. It would have been interesting to see how we performed had we started on the soft and gone to the medium, or even if we extended the medium and went to the soft on the end.
"That's what I was pushing for in the car, but everything's easier with hindsight," Russell said.
When asked if he could have been more aggressive at the start of the race at Turn 1, Russell said: "There was more in turn one.
"Ordinarily, I would've just chopped across, and turn two I would've run the driver wide.
"That's the way the game works sometimes.
"I'd like to think, had it been the same but the other way around, maybe, maybe not, I'm not too sure," Russell added.
In the last three races prior to Mexico at Singapore, Japan and the United States, Russell has made mistakes which has cost him places and points, which the Briton admits: "On my behalf, the last three races have been scrappy.
"Too many incidents, too many mistakes, and that was probably a factor in taking it too cautiously.
"There's a balance in there somewhere," Russell said.