George Russell has kept his maiden Formula 1 points after avoiding disqualification for Mercedes’ tyre mix-up during Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix. Mercedes accidentally fitted tyres belonging to Valtteri Bottas to Russell’s car during Sunday’s race at the Bahrain International Circuit, forcing the British driver to come back into the pits.
The front two tyres from Bottas’ set of mediums were put on Russell’s car as Mercedes double-stacked its cars in the pits after a mix-up caused by a radio failure.
It forced Russell into another stop one lap later that dropped him to fifth place, before a fight back up to second and chance for victory was dashed by a late puncture.
Russell eventually crossed the line in ninth place, and also picked up a bonus point for setting the fastest lap of the race, but risked losing them if Mercedes was hit with a penalty.
But the stewards said after a hearing following the race that Mercedes had been fined €20,000 for the infringement, accepting the radio failure as a mitigating circumstance, and that it was not a bid to gain a sporting advantage.
“Car 63 was fitted with front tyres that were allocated to Car 77,” the stewards’ report reads.
“This was caused by a radio communications technical issue wherein the pit wall’s communication to the pit crew that Car 63 was entering the pits prior to (and not after) Car 77, failed to be received by the crew of Car 63 because at the same time, the driver of Car 63 transmitted over the top of that message.
“This resulted in the front tyres of Car 77 accidentally going onto Car 63. (The cars were “double stacked” at the time.) This is clearly a breach of the regulations and would normally involve a sporting penalty up to Disqualification.
“However, in this case there are mitigating circumstances, additional to the radio issue referred to above.
“Firstly, the team rectified the problem within 1 lap. This involved Car 63 making another pit stop, thus dropping it further down the classification.
“Secondly, Car 77 made a pit stop to change tyres only to find that the front tyres to be fitted to it, were on Car 63, so was sent out after considerable delay, with the tyres that were on Car 77 prior to the pit stop. This also impacted the final classification of Car 77.
“Thirdly, although this type of infringement is not catered for under the “3 lap tolerance” referred to in the second paragraph of Article 24.4 b) (which currently only refers to the use of tyres of differing specifications), we consider it to be similar in nature.
“However, the responsibility to fit tyres in compliance with the regulations, still rests with
any team and thus a penalty is considered as being required.
“It is recommended that the FIA consider amending Article 24.4 b) to accommodate this type of breach when it is rectified without delay.
“It is noted that this type of breach has not previously been experienced in Formula 1.”