Russell: Leclerc lucked into red flag

Date published: September 14 2020

George-Russell-PA

George Russell wants the rules on tyre changing under red-flag conditions to be looked at following the Tuscan GP.

The red flags don’t come out often during Formula 1 races, but after Leclerc lured them out at the Italian GP with a crash at Parabolica, they made two further appearances on the following weekend at Mugello.

A huge crash down the main straight at a Safety Car restart forced the race to be red flagged, an incident which earned race-leader Valtteri Bottas few friends, before Lance Stroll’s crash forced the race to be stopped again.

Russell looked well on his way to a first points finish in Formula 1 in a race that ended with only 12 drivers on-track, but things went horribly wrong at the second restart, leaving the Briton P11 at the chequered flag.

And Russell has now taken a swipe at the rule that allows a team to change the tyres on their cars under red flags, saying it gave Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc a free pit stop.

This comes just one week after Lando Norris called the rule “stupid” as he believed it had handed Stroll a podium finish at Monza.

“I do agree the biggest thing is the tyre change in the pitstop,” Russell is quoted by Motorsport.com.

“These guys are getting free tyre changes.

“We were on a good strategy, the tyres were great for us and then suddenly people can box and put on whatever tyres they want. They ultimately get a free pitstop.

“I was ahead of Charles. He didn’t box, he lucked into the red flag, and then he’s ahead of me and can just put a new set of tyres on. So I lost a position to Charles under the red flag.

“If you’re going to continue to do this more often, they need to work on a couple of rules.

“You shouldn’t be allowed to have a free tyre change as part of the race. You’re in the race. You need to stay on the tyres you are on at that time.

“People plan their strategy around a normal race not around races that are getting two red flags in.”

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Leclerc’s Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel expressed his sympathy for Russell after the Tuscan GP.

โ€œI knew [Russell was behind], I felt a bit sorry for him,โ€ Vettel told Ziggo Sport.

โ€œHe drove really well, especially before the last restart. He was faster than us, he was more consistent and he managed his race well.

โ€œI could see what he was doing. It will come for him. Poor soul! I think he really deserved a point. Obviously if I let him by because I think he fought harder than anyone else today, then you see the cord there and Iโ€™m probably hung.

โ€œI really feel sorry for him. He fought his way up through the points and didnโ€™t get the result he deserved.โ€

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