Mercedes punished by FIA stewards over pit-lane incident in Japan

Thomas Maher
George Russell, Mercedes, 2024 Japanese Grand Prix.

George Russell up close in action

Mercedes has received a punishment from the FIA stewards in Suzuka, following a qualifying incident during the Q1 session.

George Russell and Oscar Piastri were involved in a qualifying incident very early in Q1 that resulted in the stewards handing a monetary fine to the Mercedes F1 team.

George Russell and Oscar Piastri summoned

The two drivers were called before the stewards related to an alleged breach of Article 34.14.a of the FIA F1 Sporting Regulations, due to a potentially unsafe release of Russell’s car into the pitlane.

During the early minutes of Q1, Piastri had been one of several cars in the queue trundling down the pitlane when Russell’s car was released from his garage.

The British driver didn’t stop despite the approaching McLaren and, due to squeezing the Australian, forced Piastri to slow down and gently turn left to avoid any possible contact.

Russell went on to take ninth place on the grid, while Piastri went on to qualify in sixth place in his McLaren.

The stewards, following a short investigation, opted to give Mercedes a €5,000 fine for the trangression, as Russell’s explanation of the situation from his perspective absolved him of having done anything wrong.

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

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“The driver of Car 63 [Russell] 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 [Lewis Hamilton] 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 [Piastri].

“[Piastri] stated that he had to take avoiding action by steering away from the approaching [Russell].

“Examination of the pit lane video shows that the mechanic of [Russell] 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 [Russell] 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.”

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