Mercedes fined after George Russell’s qualifying incident

Mercedes fined after George Russell's qualifying incident

Mercedes was penalized by the FIA stewards following a qualifying incident during the Q1 session at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Mercedes has been fined £4,290 (€5,000) following an unsafe pit lane release involving George Russell at the beginning of the Japanese Grand Prix qualifying.

Race officials launched an investigation after George Russell’s early release almost resulted in a crash with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri as he was forced to slow down and turn gently to the left to avoid any possible contact with the British driver who kept on driving despite the approaching car.

Piastri said over team radio: “Very dangerous from Russell.”

The stewards later summoned the two drivers due to an alleged violation of FIA F1 Sporting Regulations Article 34.14.a. However, Russell won’t face a grid drop as the stewards determined following the qualifying session that the incident simply called for a team fine.

Russell explained the situation from his point of view, absolving himself of any wrongdoing, and upon review of the incident using both external and onboard footage, his pit crew particularly the mechanic in charge of the release signal, were found to have been negligent. Therefore the stewards decided to fine Mercedes €5,000 for the infraction.

The official statement from the Stewards reads: “The competitor (Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team) is fined €5,000.

“The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 63 (George Russell), the driver of Car 81 (Oscar Piastri), team representatives and reviewed external and in-car video evidence.

“The driver of Car 63 stated that on receiving the release signal from his mechanic, he had intended to drive down the working lane, however he saw the mechanic from Car 44 in his peripheral vision and in order to avoid him, he claimed he had to move into the fast lane. He was not able to see the approach of Car 81.

“The driver of Car 81 stated that he had to take avoiding action by steering away from the approaching Car 63.

“Examination of the pit lane video shows that the mechanic of Car 63 who released the car did not look down to pit lane to see if it was clear. Even though the stated intention of the team was for Car 63 to move down the working lane then blend in prior to the pit exit.

“It is still the responsibility of the team to release the car in a safe manner and good practice would dictate that prior to the car being released, the pit lanes (both fast and working) should be checked for approaching vehicles.”

Russell finished qualifying in ninth place on the grid, while Piastri qualified his McLaren in sixth.

“I think it’s just so tight out there between ourselves McLaren, Ferrari and Aston Martin,” he said. “If you nail your lap you are up at the front of that pack, and if you don’t you will be at the back of that pack, we knew that this circuit was going to be a slight challenge for us.

“We know our limitation in the high-speed corners.”

Russell’s teammate Lewis Hamilton starts Sunday’s race from seventh but expressed satisfaction with the performance, stating the Mercedes felt to be the “nicest in three years.”

Leave a Reply