George Russell punished after three-driver FIA investigation at Brazilian Grand Prix

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes' George Russell speaks to the media.

George Russell speaking to the media.

George Russell has been given a two-place grid penalty for the Brazilian Grand Prix after impeding during qualifying.

The United States and Mexican GPs had seen instances of drivers coming to a stop in the fast lane of the pit lane in order to create a gap to cars on track without busting the maximum permitted out-lap time, though impeding cars behind in the process.

The FIA looked to stamp this out for the visit to Interlagos, F1 race director Niels Wittich stating in his event notes that any driver stopping in the fast lane would be flagged up for driving “unnecessarily slow”. This though has not eliminated the problem.

George Russell and Alpine duo penalised

Mercedes driver Russell, as well as Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, all faced the stewards over alleged instances of impeding at the pit exit.

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While drivers did not stop in the fast lane, Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying saw several racers moving very slowly through the pit exit as they made their way onto the track, forcing faster drivers behind to squeeze around them, if they could, with the instruction being that a slow-moving car must move as far to the left as possible.

The stewards were not satisfied that Russell complied with this ruling and thus issued a two-place penalty, meaning he drops from P6 to P8 on Sunday’s grid.

Ocon and Gasly received the same treatment as they drop to P14 and P15 respectively.

“The stewards heard from the driver of Car 63 (George Russell), the team representative and reviewed in-car video evidence,” the Russell verdict begins.

“In order to avoid situations like the ones that occurred in Mexico, the Race Director’s Event Notes for this event contained a specific clause (item 14) stipulating that it was permitted to go slow in the pit exit to create a gap before crossing the SC2 line, however, by doing so, a driver must stay as far to the left as possible to allow other drivers to pass on the right side.

“RUS was exiting the pits, preparing for an out lap. RUS went slow to create a gap for a clear lap, but did not manage to stay completely to the left. As a result, following car(s) were not able to overtake, as intended by the Race Director’s instructions.

“This clearly violates the wording and the spirit of item 14 of the Race Director’s Event Notes.”

The drivers will return to qualifying action on Saturday for the shortened format to set the grid for the Interlagos sprint.

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