George Russell jokes about Fernando Alonso adding insult to injury after ‘can of worms’ incident

Michelle Foster
Mercedes driver George Russell walking away

George Russell crashed out of the Australian GP

Although George Russell doesn’t believe Fernando Alonso’s actions in Australia were “extraordinarily dangerous”, it would’ve opened a “can of worms” had he not been penalised.

Russell and Alonso were involved in a late-race incident at the Albert Park circuit as the Briton lost control of his W15 when Alonso braked early on the straight, catching the Mercedes driver off guard.

George Russell: Open a can of worms if it weren’t penalised

The Spaniard was slapped with a 20-second penalty for “potentially dangerous” driving, a punishment Alonso found a “bit surprising” given racing drivers “never drive at 100 per cent every race lap and every corner”.

The penalty has divided pundits with Guenther Steiner accusing him of playing “games” with Russell while Eddie Jordan believes the blame lies with the Briton as it is “up to the driver behind to be able to look out” for a slowing car.

That Russell has since revealed he was looking at his steering wheel at the time opens the door for Jordan’s argument.

He, however, countered that during the driver press conference ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

“Every driver is open to change their line, brake earlier, power through the corner, do whatever,” he said.

“When we start getting in the middle of a straight, downshifting and accelerating, upshifting again and braking again for a corner, I think that goes beyond the realms of adjusting your line.

“I was actually looking at my steering wheel on the straight as I’d done every single lap prior and when I looked up 100 metres before the corner, I realised I was right behind Fernando, rather than the half a second that I was.

“We’ve got so many duties to take care of when we’re driving, going around the racetrack, changing all of the settings on the steering wheel, making sure you’re in the right engine mode, taking care of the tyres, talking to your engineer, managing the deltas on your steering wheel.

“You add into the mix that you’re allowed to brake in the middle of the straight to gain a tactical advantage, I think that is maybe one step too far in the same way we talked about moving to defend to get out of the slipstream, there were lots of talks about that in the past.

“It’s not overly dangerous, but it has a concertina effect if everybody’s moving around. And if suddenly if you brake test somebody, and there’s 10 cars behind that probably has a greater effect by the 10th driver than it does for the first driver behind.

“I don’t think what Fernando did was extraordinarily dangerous, but it would open a can of worms if it weren’t penalised.” recommends

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Asked whether he’s spoken with Alonso, he revealed they’d bumped into each other at a coffee shop back home.

Max Verstappen wanted to know “did you brake test him there”, but Russell shrugged that off as it is “nothing personal, when the helmets on we’re all fighters and competing” and “when the helmets off you have respectful for one another”.

Pressed on whether he had spoken with Alonso about the incident, Russell joked: “No we didn’t. He didn’t get my coffee, though, which is the least that could’ve happened.

“But no, it’s history now.”

The incident, not the coffee situation, will be up for discussion in Friday’s driver briefing.

“Possibly,” said Russell. “I think it was a bit of a strange situation that happened last week. As I said, at the time, totally caught by surprise.

“I was actually looking at the steering wheel making a switch change in the straight, which we all do across the lap and when I looked up, I was in Fernando’s gearbox and it was sort of too late and then next thing I’m in the wall.

“I think if it were not to have been penalised, it would have really opened a can of worms for the rest of the season and in junior categories of saying are you allowed to brake in a straight, are you allowed to slow down, change gear, accelerated, something semi erratic?

“I don’t take anything personally with what happened with Fernando, and it probably has bigger consequences than it should have. But as I said, if it went unpenalised, can you just brake in the middle of the straight? I don’t know.”

Verstappen added that it will be “discussed it in the driver briefing.”

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