Andrew Shovlin says there was nothing “subjective” about George Russell’s penalty in Las Vegas, it’s clearly laid out in the guidelines around driving standards.
Russell clashed with Max Verstappen at the penultimate Grand Prix of the season as the World Champion attempted to overtake him up the inside at Turn 12.
Clearly the quicker of the two cars, Verstappen steamed up behind the Mercedes driver and shot to the inside of the corner as he tried to squeeze his way past.
Mercedes can’t argue against George Russell’s penalty
But as Russell turned in for the corner, unaware of Verstappen’s presence, he collided with the Dutchman and sheared off parts of the RB19’s front wing.
Russell’s W14 also sustained minor damage although both cars were able to continue with Verstappen taking the victory while Russell was fourth across the line.
However, handed a five-second time penalty for causing the collision, the Briton dropped to eighth in the official classification.
Shovlin, Mercedes’ trackside engineering director, says there was no arguing with the penalty as that scenario is laid out in the guidelines for the drivers.
“The crucial thing here is whether the car that is doing the overtaking, so in this case, Max, is on the inside or the outside,” he said in Mercedes’ post-Las Vegas review.
“If you are on the inside, you only need to have your front wheel at least level with the other car’s back wheel that the outside car has to give you what’s called racing room.
“Now, this isn’t subjective, it’s all written down in a guideline that the FIA produced around driving standards.
“The reason for the collision though was just that George hadn’t expected him to make a move there.
“He hadn’t seen him and at the point George committed to the corner, he, unfortunately, collected Max, and caused both of them to see some damage and then subsequently George had that penalty.”
Despite the minor damage to his car, Russell was involved in several late-race overtakes with his last on Esteban Ocon.
“Well, luckily it was only very slight and to the level that we couldn’t pick up on the date,” Shovlin said of the damage. “So, really there was very little impact at all.”
Puncture and Safety Car cost Lewis Hamilton a possible podium
It was a day of what could have been for Mercedes in Las Vegas as Lewis Hamilton suffered a puncture after clashing with Oscar Piastri.
Hamilton made a move on the McLaren driver down at Turn 14 mid-race, but contact caused punctures for both cars and saw the two drop well outside of the points.
Hamilton recovered to finish seventh but Shovlin reckons that were it not for the puncture and the timing of the Safety Car for Russell’s clash with Verstappen, the seven-time World Champion could have been in the hunt for the podium.
“The puncture was clearly very costly because he had to do an entire lap with that puncture,” he said. “He couldn’t get into the pits, lost a lot of time, and lost a lot of positions thee.
“Had he been able to run without that on the hard tyre we could have gone much longer. He would have been leading the race on the road with one more stop to make.
“However, had the Safety Car occurred at the same point, Lewis would have had a very long stint on the medium tyres so it would have been difficult to get to the end.
“So, if everything was the same and it wasn’t just for the puncture, we think Lewis would have had a difficult finish doing such a long stint on the mediums.
“However, if there also wasn’t a Safety Car he could have been in a position where he was fighting close to a podium place.
The Las Vegas result means Mercedes head into the season finale in Abu Dhabi just four points ahead of Ferrari in the battle to finish runner-up in the Constructors’ Championship.