Charles Leclerc gets his wish as George Russell Austin punishment confirmed

Jamie Woodhouse
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc in conversation with Mercedes pair George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc in conversation with Mercedes pair George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

Charles Leclerc was clear in his mind that George Russell deserves a penalty after their impeding encounter in the Austin sprint shootout, and the stewards agreed.

While qualifying to determine the United States Grand Prix grid took place on Friday, the drivers were back in qualifying action on Saturday to set the starting order for the sprint.

And it only took until the latter stages of SQ1 for some drama, as Russell seemed to very much get in the way of Leclerc, this landing him a three-place grid penalty for the sprint at the Circuit of The Americas.

Charles Leclerc wanted George Russell penalised

As Leclerc swept through the penultimate corner, the Ferrari driver found a slow-moving Russell in his Mercedes on the exit, wrecking that final flying lap for Leclerc.

Both drivers cleared the SQ1 stage, but that was of little comfort to Leclerc.

“And penalty for Mr Russell. Thank you,” said Leclerc as he came over team radio.

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The stewards determined that Russell has indeed impeded Leclerc, thus handing out a three-place grid drop to the Mercedes driver.

“The stewards heard from the driver of Car 63 (George Russell), the driver of Car 16 (Charles Leclerc), team representatives and reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video, timing, team radio and in-car video evidence,” their verdict began.

“Car 63 entered the last two corners preparing for his flying lap at the end of SQ1 with Car 16 closing in quickly. Whilst the team did inform the driver about the closing car a few seconds in advance, there was no further information directly before Car 63 entered Turn 19 with Car 16 right behind.

“Car 63 did not move from the racing line in or after Turn 19 and therefore unnecessarily impeded Car 16. The stewards note that irrespective of any information coming from the team, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that no other cars are unnecessarily impeded.”

Russell then drops to P11 on the United States GP sprint grid.

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