Mugello, 2020

Russell “just presumed” signal meant pit entry was closed at Monza

2020 Italian Grand Prix

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George Russell has explained why he was one of few drivers to notice the pit lane entrance was closed during the Italian Grand Prix.

Most drivers were warned by their teams the pit lane was not open when the Safety Car was deployed in response to Kevin Magnussen’s retirement. Lewis Hamilton and Antonio Giovinazzi were not warned and came into the pits, earning costly 10-second stop-go penalties.

Russell appeared to be the only driver who noticed for themselves that the pit lane entry was closed. He spotted two board with red cross signals on the outside of the Parabolica corner.

“A big red cross normally means to me ‘don’t enter’,” he said during today’s FIA press conference ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix.

However Russell admitted he was surprised by the warning and didn’t immediately realise what it meant.

“I’ve never actually seen this big red cross. I’ve seen an arrow on the two panels before when there’s a crash on the start line and they tell you to go through the pit lane.

“I just presumed that it was pit lane closed. I know that is a rule, obviously not heard of it in recent year, it’s not something we have done often. So I thought it was common sense, to be honest.”

Hamilton said he didn’t see the signals which were positioned on the outside of the Parabolica corner.

“It was a little bit ‘out there’,” said Russell. “I saw Lewis’s video, I think if you’re not looking there, you’re sort of focussed on your pit entry and talking to your guys, I can understand how that happens. Strange circumstances.”

The two pit entry warning lights at Mugello (pictured) are positioned on the approach to Bucine, turn 15, and halfway around the corner on the outside for this weekend’s Tuscan Grand Prix.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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31 comments on “Russell “just presumed” signal meant pit entry was closed at Monza”

  1. It is ironic that the super licence these guys require to race in F1 does not seem to include a yearly test that includes information like this pit closed sign.

    1. Or that the marshall post clearly displays a marker showing you can’t be recovered from there?

    2. They even dont take the 5 minites time that it would cost them to actually read the race director notes… it wasi n there. With a map where the lights are located and a picture….

    3. I’m laughing at the thought of Lewis Hamilton sitting down to do his annual F1 knowledge test each year, and having to answer mundane questions about pit entry lights. If you fail the test you don’t get to participate in the season..

      1. He needs to do one Trouble with him he thinks he is God of F1

  2. Hamilton made a mistake, it’s his fault, everyone needs to get over it.

    It’s like Spain 2016. Hamilton made a mistake but people spent weeks trying to twist it into being Rosberg’s fault.

    1. You don’t get it.
      It is not about Hamilton.
      It is about how a potentially dangerous situation can arise because drivers easily missed a crucial warning.
      If a, Marshall got killed or maimed, penalties will not reverse the outcome.
      The onus is on the FIA to carry out a study on how such can be prevented because this is not like missing the anthem or weigh bridge.

      1. How many lights to do you want blinking around the circuit to warn drivers?

        All drivers barring two were able to follow the rules.

        1. All drivers barring two were able to follow the rules.

          Because their engineers told them, did you not even read the article?

        2. If I’m staring at the pit lane entry, I should be able to see some indication, preferably in giant blinking lights, that the pit lane is closed.

          The other drivers got the message at about the same speed as Hamilton– but they were much farther back.

          Race Control did a lousy job of notifying the teams, the marshall panels were in a terrible location, and the pit entry wasn’t marked.

          What about these facts can you not grasp?

      2. I’m not sure everything in life needs an inquiry. How about: race director goes on radio, broadcast to everyone, and says ‘pit lane closed.’ And a big red light at the entrance in case anyone’s radio is broken. And Masi runs out with a lollipop if that’s broken too (got to think of everything).

        1. And a big red light at the entrance in case anyone’s radio is broken.

          I would put that light on the left when coming out of a right hand turn into a right hand pitlane, so the drivers can see it early.
          And just to make sure they don’t miss it I would put another one a few 100m earlier, and clearly (map and photos) explain it to the drivers in the event notes.
          @david-br

      3. I actually went through the video that was shown of Hamiltons car. It took me 5 attempts of stopping the video to actually see the sign and understand what was on it.

        Also the HAAS was well out of the way, it is very confusing with or without briefing notes. He was then quick to take the blame and accept the penalty.

        I agree prevention is better than cure, it can certainly be improved, by all concerned, drivers, teams and race officials.

    2. Meanwhile you seem very keen to criticise Hamilton.

      Rosberg forced him onto the grass in that incident, and it all began with Rosberg’s mistake of selecting the wrong engine mode. Then his move across to the inside of the track was far too aggressive. https://youtu.be/3B3-C914d_c?t=44

      1. Hamilton was never alongside Rosberg he chased Rosberg to the inside then lost control of the car.

        He should have just gone to the outside to pass.

        1. Your version of the replay came out scrambled.

        2. The stewards explained that Hamilton’s front wing was on the inside of Rosberg and Rosberg should have left space. A rule that was specifically added to stop Rosberg from pushing people off on straights. Yet still they somehow managed to find an exit to make sure their fan remained excrement free and let Mercedes deal with this themselves.

    3. Rosberg *did* make a mistake– he had his car in the wrong engine mode, or Hamilton would have never caught him. Rosberg also used a completely different line from every other car approaching that corner, one that was almost guaranteed to lead to an accident, but you’re obviously in the “blame Hamilton” camp.

      1. Or better yet Rosberg would have never passed hamilton in the wrong engine mode at the start. Rosberg used the quali or party mode to try and overtake Hamilton. A cheating in my opinion. That’s the only way Rosberg could overtake Hamilton at the start. Then Rosberg didnt expected that the loss of battery would slow him alot which is normal and he forgot Hamilton wont just give up. He will smash Nico as always

      2. And Rosberg did a wonderful job of defending. Unlucky to have Hamilton take him out after Hamilton made a massive error.

        There was never space for a pass.

  3. From a distance the rounded “X” kind of looks like an “SC” sign. I’d guess that’s why some were confused.

    1. That’s what I thought too when they were showing the replays. It’s really rather amateur hour of the FIA and the teams to not have a clearer system that alerts personnel to crucial information needed to protect the safety of track workers.

    2. Definitely looked like that from the onboard shots. Turns out HAM wasnt even looking in that direction.

  4. George also saw graphite on the roof

    1. Hans van Voonebosch
      10th September 2020, 22:12

      Not great, not terrible

  5. George is really sharp. Kinda like Nico Rosberg. To bad Bottas is holding him back.

    1. I wouldn’t have agreed with you up to a month or two ago. Too early to put Russell next to Hamilton and Bottas was doing a good job. But I think signing Bottas for next year is a big mistake. Although if the new Williams owners are serious it will be Russell’s job as lead driver to help steer the team in the right direction. Good experience for him.

      1. Too early to put Russell next to Hamilton

        If George has any talent, it’s being completely wasted by Mercedes decision to park him at Williams. Talent rises to the occasion. If McLaren had parked Hamilton in Minardi for several years instead of giving him the spotlight next to Alonso to prove himself, it would have clearly been wasted potential. Mercedes are too risk averse and I think it’s hurting them. I remember the excitement of Hamilton entering next to a WDC and how electric the atmosphere was at the time. Merc play it safe with boring driver choices, it would be amazing if they chose 2 new drivers next year, go bold, prove how Mercedes team is outstanding with 2 hungry newcomers. It won’t happen, but it would electrify the atmosphere.

    2. George was far behind so of course he could look everywhere! Let see George in P1 near the pit stop still sharp or not

  6. When you’re going slowly in a Williams there’s lots of time to make correct decisions.

    1. Haha well said! In a super dominant merc its easy to miss things in a monster car super speed

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