‘Crashing behind a SC easier than you’d imagine’

Michelle Foster
George Russell.jpg

Crashing behind a Safety Car may be a “cardinal sin” but Jolyon Palmer says it is “far easier” to do than one can imagine.

George Russell blighted his copybook at Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix when the Williams driver crashed while warming up his tyres behind the Safety Car.

To add insult to injury, the 22-year-old was in the race for his first-ever Formula 1 point.

Russell, gutted by his error sat on the side of the track with his helmet as he took a while to come to terms with his mistake.

Palmer, though, says it is an easier mistake to make than one can possibly imagine.

The former F1 driver turned commentator explained in his latest F1.com column: “Crashing out from behind the Safety Car is a cardinal sin in Formula 1, particularly if you are running in the top 10 and have never previously scored a point, but it’s actually far easier to do than anyone watching on could imagine, and that is why we do see it from time to time.

“Romain Grosjean infamously did the same from sixth position in Baku in 2018, and the year before Valtteri Bottas did the same in China, in what was his third ever race for Mercedes.

“When track temperatures are high and you are on soft tyres, this sort of thing doesn’t happen, but when that is not the case, it is possible, and George Russell sadly found out the hard way on Sunday.

“We see it from time to time in pre-season testing as well, when cars have silly-looking spins on the cold mornings, always from the rear tyres losing grip.”

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“When the fronts get cold you lock the brakes and can’t turn the car properly without it juddering horribly across the circuit. When the rears get cold you risk these silly moments where the car suddenly breaks away under the strain of 1,000 horsepower.

“For Russell a slight bump in the road was his compounding factor, mixed with too much throttle and sub-optimal rear tyre temperatures. A gutting error.”

Palmer has backed the Williams driver to learn from his mistake and come back stronger.

“There’s no doubt he is an immensely talented young driver, and he can cope with the pressure, as we’ve seen time and time again in the dying embers of Q1 on Saturdays.

“On top of his natural talents, he’s a hard working driver, and if he learns from moments like this, it can’t be long until he does break that points duck.”

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