George Russell has been given a five-place grid penalty for failing to slow for double waved yellow flags.
While three-place penalties have been given for similar infringements recently, the stewards decided Russell’s infringement was serious enough to receive a stiffer penalty as he set his fastest lap of Q1 while passing the double waved yellow flag.
According to the stewards, Russell told them “he only saw the double yellow flag signal at turn seven in his peripheral vision and believed it was just a single yellow.
“He lifted slightly earlier than he had on his previous lap, but his speed was not ‘significantly’ slower than previous laps, although he explained that he was in full control of the car and felt that he would have been able to take avoiding action if needed; and further that he was at a similar speed because he was on a faster lap overall.”
The stewards pointed out the Williams pit wall did not make it clear to Russell a double waved yellow flag was being shown and that he needed to back out of his flying lap.
“The stewards reviewed the team radio and noted that the team warned him that a yellow was ahead. They did not specify that it was a double yellow flag. Further, they did not advise him that he needed to abort the lap, following the race director’s notes in this regard that he should not be able to set a meaningful lap time. This was, in fact, his fastest lap of Q1.”
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The stewards felt Russell’s response to the yellow flags was inadequate. “The purpose of the race director’s note is to emphasise the extreme importance of the necessity to follow the flag signals for safety reasons,” they said.
“While the stewards explored all possible mitigating factors, they ultimately determined that it was the responsibility of the driver to see and follow the double yellow flag signal correctly in a potentially very dangerous situation. The team could certainly have helped more in this regard. But ultimately, he could not set a meaningful lap time in this circumstance, and therefore order a five grid place penalty and three penalty points.”
Speaking before the penalty was announced, Russell said “I saw the yellow flag, I lifted, I felt like I was completely in control of the car.”
“I definitely lost a few tenths,” he added. “I know I went quicker on the lap but the engine was turned up, [I had a] fresh set of tyres, the track was rubbering in so it’s only normal you’re only going to improve even when there is a yellow flag. I felt like I did enough.”
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