George Russell and Mercedes have received a formal warning from the FIA after he tangled with team-mate Lewis Hamilton on the start/finish straight during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Both Mercedes drivers were seen driving at full speed down the pit straight in the final part of Q2, with Hamilton picking up a slipstream from Russell.
But as Hamilton moved alongside his team-mate, Russell appeared to move across and the two touched, with a piece of Hamilton’s front wing flying into the air and the seven-time World Champion slowing down and taking to the grass.
He was unimpressed at what happened on track, saying over team radio: “George just backed off. That’s really dangerous. I might have some damage on the car.”
Russell then responded over his own radio channel: “You didn’t tell me there was a car behind,” before adding: “Yeah, sorry guys, I don’t know what the hell went on in the session.
“It was all going on, massive bouncing [at] high speed, couldn’t get the tyres working.”
Afterwards, a summons from the stewards came through for both drivers, with Russell accused of abnormally changing direction on the start/finish straight and directly causing impact with his team-mate during the session.
And when the verdict came through, the stewards decided not to give Russell a grid drop, but awarded him and Mercedes a formal warning after the team did not inform him that Hamilton was approaching from behind at speed.
The stewards wrote: “The driver of Car 63 [Russell] stated that as he was just starting his fast lap he was looking forward and had not checked his mirrors. His team did not inform him of the approach of Car 44 [Hamilton].
“However in mitigation, he was reacting to the car in front of him (Car 55, Sainz) which had just finished its fast lap. In addition at the end of his out lap the driver of Car 63 had to slow significantly to avoid impeding Cars 1 [Verstappen] and 55.”
Mercedes’ communications director Bradley Lord was asked about the incident in the moments afterwards on Sky Sports F1, which he believed was a case of wires being crossed between the drivers.
“It’s miscommunication,” he said when speaking from the Mercedes garage.
“George has aborted one lap and was trying to get track position for his flying lap, Lewis came up behind him starting his as well, and [it was] miscommunication between the two.
“Obviously the Ferrari [was] there as well finishing his lap and pulling to the right, so tricky situation and never something you want to see on track between the teams’ two cars.”
Russell was eliminated from Q2 after only going 12th fastest in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday, whereas Hamilton is due to start fifth.