At the end of Q1, Latifi spun off and Russell advanced to Q2 with the 13th fastest time, going on to claim a provisional P15 on the start line for Sunday’s race.
But immediately, the Englishman was suspected of not having slowed down sufficiently for the yellow flags warning of Latifi’s spin, leading him to issue an impassioned plea over the team radio that he had in fact done so – claiming his car’s telemetry would back that up.
However, the FIA stewards deemed that Russell had not shown enough respect to the yellow flags and he will therefore start at the very back of the grid in P20.
Russell will be one place behind Daniil Kvyat, also penalised for a gearbox change in his AlphaTauri, and two behind Latifi.
— WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) August 1, 2020
The FIA statement declaring the penalty read: “Russell explained to the Stewards that he only saw the double yellow flag signal at Turn 7 in his peripheral vision and believed it was just a single yellow.
“He lifted slightly earlier than he had on his previous lap but his speed was not ‘significantly’ slower than previous laps, although he explained that he was in full control of the car and felt he would have been able to take avoiding action if needed; and further that he was at a similar speed because he was on a faster lap overall.
“The Stewards reviewed the team radio and noted that the team warned him that a yellow was ahead. They did not specify that it was a double yellow flag. Further, they did not advise him that he needed to abort the lap, following the Race Director’s notes in this regard that he should not be able to set a meaningful lap time. This was, in fact, his fastest lap of Q1.
“The purpose of the Race Director’s note is to emphasise the extreme importance of the necessity to follow the flag signals for safety reasons. While the Stewards explored all possible mitigating factors, they ultimately determined that it was the responsibility of the driver to see and follow the double yellow flag signal correctly in a potentially very dangerous situation. The team could certainly have helped more in this regard.
“But ultimately, he could not set a meaningful lap time in this circumstance and therefore (the stewards) order a five-place grid penalty and three penalty points.”
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