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Russell given three-place grid penalty for Sainz collision

2021 British Grand Prix

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George Russell has been given a three-place grid penalty for the British Grand Prix for his collision with Carlos Sainz Jnr.

The Williams driver finished today’s sprint qualifying race in ninth place. He will therefore be relegated to 12th on the grid for tomorrow’s grand prix.

The stewards ruled Russell was responsible for the collision on the first lap of the race.

“Cars 63 [Russell] and 55 [Sainz] approached turn six with car 63 on the inside, in the middle of the
track, and car 55 on the outside. Car 63 locked the front brakes briefly and then understeered towards the edge of the track at the exit of the turn and contacted car 55, which was forced off the circuit and on to the grass. Car 63 is judged at fault for the incident.”

The stewards explained the decision to hand Russell a grid penalty rather than a time penalty, stating the latter would not have been appropriate due to the shorter length of the qualifying race.

“The stewards note that breaches of the regulations of this sort in a race normally result in time penalties, which are scaled based on normal grand prix race lengths. Both because of the shorter length of sprint qualifying and because it is used to establish the grid for the race, the stewards feel that grid position penalties, as imposed here, are more appropriate.”

Russell was also given a penalty point on his licence for the collision. It puts him on a total of seven for the current 12-month period, leaving him five away from an automatic race ban.

Sainz said he tried to give Russell space to avoid a collision. “I think it’s pretty obvious that sometimes the people who stay inside in turn six tend to have moments, lock up or lose the car,” he explained.

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“I tried to give him as much space as I could. Even at one point I opened the steering wheel just to let him go. But even like that, he couldn’t control the car and bumped into me.

“A pretty obvious mistake by him, it could happen to any of us. But the fact that he finished in front is still, I don’t think, the best.”

Speaking before Russell’s penalty was issued, Sainz said he “wouldn’t mind” if none was given, but added “I think I deserve to be in front of him starting tomorrow.”

“I think it would be a bit unfair for him to start to race in front of me after the obvious mistake he did today.

“As I said, it happens to all of us. It has happened to me in the past, but I think you also need to accept the consequences when you do this sort of mistake. Normally the stewards on lap one, they kind of close their eyes a bit more compared to later in the race. But for me, his mistake was a bit more.”

Sainz will move up one place on the grid as a result of Russell’s penalty, as will Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly.

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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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55 comments on “Russell given three-place grid penalty for Sainz collision”

  1. Truly ridiculous. Let them race on a first lap.

    1. Ridiculous indeed, was what I wanted to say, on lap 1 they’re usually more tolerant, so I was expecting no penalty, and it wasn’t purposeful either, so seems really against the let them race idea this penalty.

    2. Not ridiculous at all. Sainz couldn’t have given him any more space.

      1. @carbon_fibre you’re missing the point. Not every incident, regardless of the space left, deserves a penalty. It’s close quarters racing. Touches will happen. Penalising is not necessary.

        1. @hahostolze Agree with you, I want them to be able to race hard. Accidents will happen. Feel penalties should only apply if a driver purposefully aims to take another driver out or if it is deemed stupidly dangerous. At most, Russell/Sainz was just a racing incident and on another day it could be Russell that’s on the receiving end.

        2. The accident could have been avoided if Russell didn’t lock up. It was a driver error deserving of a penalty.

          1. Coventry Climax
            18th July 2021, 0:30

            The best way to avoid accidents is to not race at all, stay home on your couch. But don’t have a beer! That might lead to health issues!
            If you call that a mistake, then all of racing is a mistake. You could just as well argue that at those speeds, and in the heat of the first laps moment, it is a mistake to be on the outside. (Which is nonsense as well.)
            To me, it’s just the Mazi Mob with the uncontrollable need to leave their mark again.

    3. I concur absolutely. The only things missing from this one is the claims adjusters and accompanying paperwork.

    4. Russell approaches the corner pretty much out of control, completely locks up, and in the process takes out Sainz.
      How is that not a penalty?
      People throw this “let them race” lazy comment every time it suits them. If it had been Mazepin who took out Sainz people would be screaming for the guy to be penalised and how he doesn’t deserve to be in F1. Now it is Russell who made the mistake, oh no, let them race …

      1. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend I do agree that the response of a number of posters on this site suggests that the real problem is rather less about the penalty itself and rather more to do with it being Russell that has been penalised.

        Indeed, we know from the posting history of a number of those complaining that Russell is being penalised here that they were fine with other drivers being penalised in the same way for similar mistakes, especially when it involved a driver who was less popular – whilst some here might throw around complaints of “let them race” or “Masi is useless”, some of them show a similar level of inconsistency to that which they ascribe to Masi and the stewards.

  2. Peter Farrington
    17th July 2021, 20:42

    Rubbish Penalty again !
    What are they called RACING DRIVERS ! Not off to the Local Tesco !

    1. Absolutely correct penalty, like it or not. He did push other car off the circuit. It’s totally consistent with penalties for same actions earlier this season.

    2. Penalising Russell seems harsh for British ! Rest of the world doesn’t give a damn. And the guy, as in simple, blames the other driver ! Funny at parties that George boy.

  3. At least they are consistent in the penalties even though i feel sorry for Russell.

    1. There’s also an unwritten rule that in lap 1 they’re usually more tolerant, this and norris’ penalty go against that rule though.

      1. If it is unwritten, it is not a rule, same as all the so-called gentleman’s agreements.

        Stewards are generally lenient on lap 1 but to the point where one’s error does not significantly penalise other drivers. If they had banged wheels and Sainz had to only concede that place, it wouldn’t have been a penalty but forcing another driver off is certainly worthy of one.

        I get it that a lot of the comments are coming from Russel fans who are frustrated at having a driver qualifying 8th start from 12th, but it is the same as a grid drop penalty.

  4. I only saw the incident from Russells perspective and for me that wasn’t a penalty. Even though I’m an Alonso fan that should have been at least 5s penalty.
    Still you are the one who has responsibility to keep your own car on the road and not hit anyone. If there is a contact you give yourself a chance to get a penalty.

  5. So… The penalty standard is different, presumably because “it’s not a race, it’s quali”.
    What next? Alonso gets a penalty for impeding?

    Reply moderated
  6. I was prepared to give the sprint race a chance but I don’t like it. Russell already did his qualifying and qualified a superb 8th. This sprint race undoes everyones work

  7. Crazy. The problem here is that Russell was clearly at fault, and the stewards have previously shown that if there’s an incident where someone is clearly at fault then it results in a penalty. But it’s way too harsh – they were just racing!

    1. @gerogeod It isn’t necessarily the stewards’ fault. The Sporting Regulations state:

      Unless it is clear to the stewards that a driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for
      an Incident no penalty will be imposed.

      This kind of leaves them in a catch 22 scenario. If they penalise, they risk this kind of backlash. If they don’t, they are implying that Russell (or any driver in this scenario) is not at fault, which may lead to repeat incidents. Good to finally see some sense with regards to penalty points though. 1 is exactly the right amount here. Penalty could have been a reprimand though actually…

      1. Just because no penalty should be imposed of no driver is wholly or predominantly to blame, doesn’t mean the reverse applies.

        The stewards are generally very tolerant of first corner incidents regardless of whether anyone is to blame, for instance.

        What that role is saying is “if it’s a 50/50, don’t give a penalty”. That doesn’t mean “if it isn’t a50/50, always give a penalty”.

        1. Indeed, I think he’s missing that point.

  8. Unecessary mistake by Russell which ruined Sainz sprint race.
    Deserved penalty.

    1. what does an “unnecessary mistake” even mean? He locked up, went wide, and there was Sainz. To me that’s a racing incident during lap 1, not a intended push like Perez did to Leclerc in Austria for example.

      1. @gechichan Which instance of Perez vs Leclerc out of interest? The first was identical to Norris’ penalty, so was correct imo. The second one was kind of stupid though. Leclerc was going for a move that was clearly not going to work.

      2. @gechichan
        That’s what an unnecessary mistake means – Russell screwed up and took out an opponent, even though he was given plenty of room. Would have been entirely unfair to ruin someone else’s (sprint) race and come out unpunished for it at the end.

  9. Seems a fair penalty when looking back the last race in Austria. Russel had a bad start, was getting swamped by cars around him, possibly panicked and snatched a brake and understeered into Sainz who had given him more than enough room

  10. Similar thing happened when Kimi got a penalty for turfing Lewis out the race in 2018. Deserved penalty IMO. Sainz would’ve finished way up in the points if it wasn’t for that, his pace was good in traffic.

    1. If I recall raikkonen even got a 10 sec penalty that race, while 5 is the minimum, so would’ve been like 5 place penalty to russel in this case, as in the 2nd most tolerant penalty. I’m guessing they deemed it more serious since hamilton fell back all the way from 1st or 2nd.

  11. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    17th July 2021, 21:05

    Russel was braking and turning right as much as he could. Sainz swept in from the left quite sharply. It’s a 50-50 at worst.

    1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk As someone points out above, this is pretty similar to the Kimi-Hamilton incident at Village in 2018. Kimi got a 10 second penalty there (possibly could/should have been 5, or Vettel’s in France 2 weeks before should have been 10). I think it is right for him to be penalised (if you are locked up then you aren’t at your full braking capacity. Also I think you might have got your left and rights mixed up btw), and 3 places is actually the least-harsh penalty he could have got. 5 seconds would have actually lost him 4 positions.

      1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        18th July 2021, 8:05

        Yes of course from the right!

        I’d only seen the in car footage from Russel’s car. I’d assumed he was ahead of Sainz mid corner. Now that I’ve seen Sainz’s in car footage it obvious Russel was barely if ever ahead. So yes you are right about the penalty too.

    2. Sainz did nothing wrong there. In fact, he already completed the move around the outside in Brooklands and then Russell locked up. The Williams had more than enough room to easily make the corner, but he didn’t and drove into the side of Sainz. If anything, it’s Russell’s fault.

  12. Oh ok, so we’re penalising first lap incidents this week then? Cool. Why not on other weekends though? Is this worse than Leclerc did taking Gasly out in Austria? Don’t get me wrong, this was 100% Russell’s fault but yet again I’m amazed by the lack of consistency in the stewarding. If you’re going to penalise first lap incidents like this then fine, but you have to do it every race weekend.

  13. Nonsense. That was a racing incident at worse, Was it more of George’s mistake, Yes but it was still a racing accident which warranted no further action.

    Yet another example of the over-regulation.

    Also an example of how irrelevant qualifying is now with this silly gimmick race. Whats the point in having a mega qualifying if you can’t say you got pole & end up getting dumb unnecisary penalties in the gimmick race.

    F1 is in such a terrible state & it’s only going to get worse as it morphs into Liberty’s Indycar+ pseudo spec series vision.

    1. Why should it not warrant further action? If you get pushed off by someone locking up on his own, you’d be pretty annoyed. If he goes on to finish ahead of you because he sent you off by his own mistake, you’d be even more annoyed.

      It’s not over-regulation in this case, it’s meant to increase the driving standard. A lock-up is a mistake, not a racing incident.

      And the consequence of his locking up is key here.
      If they had simply banged wheels as a result of the lock-up, it would have been fine. Instead, Sainz plummeted to dead-last.

      1. So what’s the penalty for wiping someone’s rear wheel with your front wing on lap 1 and giving them a dnf @andrewf1 ? Driver of the day?

        1. No idea what you‘re arguing there, or why you think it‘s fine to ruin someone‘s race and sweep it under the imaginary carpet of „racing incident“, especially when the other driver did absolutely nothing wrong. Racing incident usually implies shared blame. Sainz did absolutely nothing wrong here.

          Also, why is it that when a driver locks-up and ruins his lap or his tires its obviously his mistake, but if he locks-up and takes someone out it‘s suddenly acceptable and a racing incident.

          1. He’s probably talking about ocon in austria 2 who dnf by hitting giovinazzi or someone, and the other driver didn’t get enough of a penalty, if at all, it was also on the first lap.

          2. @andrewf1, @esploratore1, reads like Leclerc’s Styria GP first lap reference, where was chosen as DotR after that wrecking first lap (because they didn’t look at 1st lap incidents there).

  14. How dare Russell try to compete in a Williams!

    The upstart needs to be put in place!

    1. Given the irony of Russell finishing in the top 10 at long last, but not getting any points for it… a demotion out of the top 10 seems appropriate 😂

  15. Yet Leclerc who drove into Gasly at the Stygian Grand Prix on the first lap had no penalty at all and completely ruined Gasly’s race…

  16. Fed up F1 fab
    17th July 2021, 21:53

    That’s it I’m out. Drivers are not allowed to race – every incident is over analysed to death. Seriously are we on the public highway. We want to see racing. F1 the championship of politely following the car in front where your not allowed to push the car to its limits in case it offends someone. Jesus this is a sport. People make mistakes I want to see gladiators pushing themselves to the limit and beyond not half arsing around following the car in front. Pathetic.

    Reply moderated
  17. Imagine swapping Leclerc’s car for Russell. Still a lap 1 penalty? It’s the inconsistency that grates, especially when it comes to Ferraris.

    1. Yes, and if the situation was swapped, a 3 place grid penalty would NOT have given russell his place ahead of sainz, since in a williams he couldn’t have recovered like sainz did, so the point that the affected driver needs to get back ahead of the offending driver doesn’t fully hold either.

  18. Maybe a slightly harsh decision, given it was a frist-lap-incident, but Russell is clearly to blame for that collision. He probably got a little bit distracted by the McLaren locking up in front of him, but that doesn’t count as an excuse.
    Sainz basically passed him already around the outside of Brooklands and there was little Russell could do to fight back, as the Ferrari is a much quicker car in race trim.
    By locking up and driving into the side of Sainz, he wrecked the Ferrari’s sprint qualifying and also compromised his own race tomorrow.

  19. You don’t mess with the Ferrari International Assistance.

  20. Where the hell is the consistency
    Russel vs sainz was a racing incident Russel gets punished
    Perez spins off and rejoins dangerously into the path of much quicker traffic and doesn’t even get a point on his licence

    Reply moderated
  21. someone or something
    18th July 2021, 0:51

    This comment section is impressively rubbish. I was not expecting that.

  22. Weird given lap 1 stuff usually get different treatment from later laps.

  23. I hate to keep banging the “Russell isn’t the nailed on world championship challenger everyone thinks he is because he still makes too many mistakes (particularly on lap 1) drum” but here goes…

    Again, I’ve been a fan of Williams for 29 years now, so I want Russell to score points really badly to end this run of terrible results for my favorite team, but he keeps on making critical mistakes. He was never going to score points today, so all he had to do was keep his nose clean and finish the sprint race in roughly the same place he started and he was going to be in a great place for points on Sunday. But he’s gone and blown it again, I can’t see the team scoring without 3/4 cars ahead of him having issues.

  24. This could have been avoided if no ridiculous sprint race took place.

  25. Good. Clean up the racing.

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