Martin Brundle has blamed poor visibility for George Russell’s dangerous rejoining of the track that led to a collision with Sergio Perez.
Having gone off at the Mirabeau corner, Russell rejoined the wet track but did so into the path of the oncoming Perez who was helpless as he ran into the wide of the W14.
The two drivers remarkably came away with minimal damage but Russell was handed a five-second penalty and two penalty points for what the stewards deemed was an unsafe rejoin.
Brundle, a driver in 158 F1 races, defended Russell though, stating that there was little the Mercedes man could do other than to “accelerate and hope.”
“I didn’t clock it in commentary other than recognising that Mercedes were making some timely calls for both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, but having fitted intermediate tyres on the optimum lap 53 Russell could have stolen third place from [Esteban] Ocon if he didn’t have a lock-up down into the Mirabeau escape road,” Brundle wrote in his Sky Sports column.
“He would then take a five-second penalty for dangerously rejoining the track and taking a sizeable hit from the lapped Perez, but actually, there’s nothing else a driver can do other than join, accelerate and hope, unless you want to patiently sit there to see if a marshal will wave you back into a space.
“The drivers can’t see out of the side of the raised cockpits and with the HANS safety device connected to the crash helmet and very limited space they can’t turn their heads anyway. And mirrors are no good if your car is not on the racing line.”
Russell himself said he was “kicking myself”, believing that mistake saw him miss out on “a guaranteed podium.”
“Kicking myself, to be honest,” Russell told F1 TV when asked how he felt after the race finished.
“One small mistake cost us a podium. I came out of the pits comfortably ahead of Ocon and Lewis [Hamilton]. There was a yellow flag at Turn 5, I backed off and as soon as I pressed the brakes, I locked up and followed the yellow flag.
“And I think that’s almost a lesson that when you’re not focused, or you’re not on it, that’s sometimes when mistakes happen, and I probably wouldn’t have made that mistake if there wasn’t a yellow flag there.
“Really, really disappointed because after that pit stop it was basically a guaranteed podium.”