Andrew Shovlin feels George Russell’s five-second penalty for hitting Sergio Perez through Turn 4 was “harsh” as he had left the Red Bull driver “more than enough room”.
Racing for position on the opening lap of Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, Perez tried to overtake Russell around the outside of Turn 4.
Side-by-side into the corner, Perez pulled slightly aside only for the Brit’s front left to connect with the Red Bull’s rear right.
Russell immediately told Mercedes that Perez had “turned into” him while the Mexican driver, off in the gravel, told Red Bull that he had given the Mercedes’ “enough room”.
The stewards deemed Russell responsible, slapping the driver with a five-second time penalty.
“It’s been a very tough weekend in the garage but very satisfying to come away with third and fourth positions,” said Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Shovlin.
“We felt that George’s penalty for the incident with Sergio was harsh. He was up on the apex kerb and left more than enough room.
“We had to change the front wing after the contact, so it made for a very long stop. He had to pass through the field twice but raced superbly and maximised the opportunity.”
It takes two to tangle 😲
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Russell also didn’t agree with the penalty, believing it was a racing incident and one in which Perez went for an audacious attempt and paid the price.
“I’ve looked at the video and I think it’s harsh,” Russell said. “You are racing at the start, cars are everywhere. Checo did do a bold move going around the outside like that.
“Obviously he’d done it before, he did it with Valtteri yesterday and Valtteri had to get right on top of the kerb to avoid him, which is exactly what I tried to do.
“But with Carlos ahead of me there’s only so much you can brake and so much you can steer, and ultimately I had nowhere to go. Sorry to him to end his race.”
Rusell recovered from the incident to finish fourth, his team-mate Lewis Hamilton on the podium in third place.
“Despite lacking a little pace to Ferrari and Red Bull, we’re encouraged by the fact we’re moving in the right direction and have more to come in the next few races,” Shovlin added.
After two crashes in qualifying as well, Mercedes will be spending the next few days stocking up on parts.
“We have a busy few days ahead at the factory to recover the situation on car parts, this weekend has not been great in that regard,” he said.
“But we’ll pull that back in time for Paul Ricard and are looking forward to a track that should suit the car.”
Highlights from the Austrian Grand Prix
Charles Leclerc took his first win in eight races, and Ferrari definitely needed it.