Sergio Perez, Red Bull and George Russell, Mercedes, Paul Ricard, 2022

Russell insists the “letter of the law” showed Perez should have given up third place

2022 French Grand Prix

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George Russell insisted Sergio Perez should have given up his position when he cut the chicane as the pair fought for position during the French Grand Prix.

The pair clashed for the second race weekend in a row when Russell tried to overtake Perez at the Mistral chicane during the race. Perez ran wide at the exit of the corner and maintained his position ahead of Russell.

Following a series of disputes over incidents last year, and wholesale changes to race direction after the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, drivers were given “non-binding” guidelines indicating how the stewards will judge the legality of racing manoeuvres.

The guidelines state that “in order for a car being overtaken to be required to give sufficient room to an overtaking car, the overtaking car needs to have a significant portion of the car alongside the car being overtaken and the overtaking manoeuvre must be done in a safe and controlled manner, while enabling the car to clearly remain within the limits of the track.”

Russell was infuriated that Perez kept his position, telling his team on the radio: “Front wheel to rear wheel. It’s the rule if you’re attacking. I was definitely front wheel to rear wheel.”

Although Russell later successfully passed Perez following a Virtual Safety Car period and finished ahead of the Red Bull, he said after the race he was “pretty disappointed not to be able to keep that position.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Paul Ricard, 2022
Gallery: 2022 French Grand Prix in pictures
“I thought it was my corner,” he explained. “I was down the inside, I had my front wheels in front of his rear wheels.

“To the letter of the law, it was my corner and he squeezed me a bit onto the kerb. He went wide and kept his position.

“I guess we’ll talk about it after but nevertheless, you know, these things have a way of working themselves out and the VSC restart was pretty tasty.”

However Perez said he had to cut the corner in order to avoid making contact with Russell.

“If I don’t cut the corner we would have retired both cars, basically,” he said. “He just went for it and we even did contact. I was ahead and he was out of control so I had to escape.”

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71 comments on “Russell insists the “letter of the law” showed Perez should have given up third place”

  1. I don’t see any interpretation of the rules which would make Russell right. Depending of what “a significant portion” is, Perez would or wouldn’t be required to leave space to Russell at the apex of the first corner, but anyway he certainly more than did. After that, Russell would be required to leave space to Perez at the exit, which he didn’t really do. I think he misunderstood the rules of engagement (which could certainly have been made clearer).

    1. @palindnilap This is the second race in a row where Russell has been on the inside of Perez, taken a load of kerb and then there’s been contact between the two of them. It makes me wonder whether in a similar situation in future Russell might just stay off the kerb and live with whatever contact happens, as he’d be on the inside and probably come off better.

      That said, I broadly agree with you. I don’t agree with Russell’s interpretation of the guidelines, which I don’t believe are intended to mean a driver can launch themselves down the inside from a great distance back and then force someone else off.

      1. Agree to both of you.

      2. Probably also a problem with precedents where drivers dive in the inside, straight line breaking to the end of the track before turning while “blocking” the track. Car on the outside has to take evasive actions and car inside retain position.

        Not the cleanest of overtake but it has been approved in the past by similar moves being done and stewards being OK with it. I think it is still the aftermath of last season where stewards let situation gets out of hand with “let them race” to the point where nobody knows what is applicable anymore. I think it will take some time to sort this out. Hopefully they come up with reference scenarios soon to clarify to everyone (drivers, fans and even stewards). Then there will always be room for interpretation but in this case Russell doesn’t have much ground to claim a penalty, rather the opposite.

    2. I agree with you but this is the fault of the stewards and dictating when you must leave space on the exit of a corner.

      Too many times we see cars on inside push another car off the track on exit, for example Perez did it in Silverstone. I wish they would just make it clearer on when space has to be given.

      1. The thing is it all depends on the track lay-out:

        If there’s a corner to be cut on the outside, the defender is okay with going off if no space is left because they get to keep the position by rejoining the track further up. (e.g. Max v Lewis Abu Dhabi 2021)

        If there’s no corner cutting available, like at the top right-hander of Spielberg circuit, then crowding the outside car off the track is very advantageous.

        In my opinion, the rules of engagement should be the same no matter the track configuration, but it plays out completely differently in practice.

    3. The problem with the rules is that there is no requirement for the car on the inside to leave space for the car on the outside at the corner exit.
      As a result it is standard practice to run a driver on the outside off the road, forcing them to take avoiding action.
      All they need to do is to change the rule so that rathe than one driver “having” the corner, BOTH drivers are entitled to space throughout the entire corner

    4. In the Formula 2 sprint race the same weekend, there was a strikingly similar incident between Jehan Daruvala and Marcus Armstrong (car on the inside) on lap 19. Armstrong was more wheel to wheel with Daruvala than Russell was with Perez. However, Armstrong ended up with a 5 second penalty. So I was quite surprised when the stewards said no further investigation but not complaining though. It is just that it becomes so difficult to understand what is right and what is not when such different conclusions are arrived at for what seemed to be quite similar incidents on the same weekend.

  2. He’s right & more or less what I’ve been pointing out the whole time.
    Perez may have had a reason for his off-track excursion, but this doesn’t excuse him from not rejoining by circling between the polystyrene bollards as per the event note requirement.

    1. @jerejj Don’t see why Perez should have to disadvantage himself by weaving through the bollards and losing both 3rd and probably 4th as well, all because of a dive-bomb by Russell which would have taken both cars out if Perez had made the corner.

      1. 100%
        The reality is that if Perez didn’t bail, Russell would have retired with damage, or been penalised for such a wild move

    2. Director note: “Any driver going straight on at Turn 8 must re-join the track by driving through the four arrays […]”
      Perez didn’t go straight on at Turn 8. He was pushed offtrack after successfuly Taking turn 8.

      “but this doesn’t excuse him from not rejoining by circling between the polystyrene bollards as per the event note requirement.”
      To be able to circule between the 4 row of polystyrene bollards, he would have had to make a U-Turn. Not sure how this is not an excuse to not take them.

  3. Said otherwise, Russell took “he has to give me enough room” as “it is my corner”. It rather means that in this situation it still is both drivers’ corner. Which is fortunate since it allow people to race for it, instead of one driver having to yield immediately.

  4. Looks like George is fast learner. He is becoming true “Front wheel to rear wheel” expert – signature Mercedes move against Red Bull in recent years.

    1. I am starting to wonder if Merc simply attracts entitled whiners, or creates them?

      1. Bottas was not a whiner, But George and Lewis are both Brits……

        1. hey I see what you did there! ha

        2. Well speaking as a whining Brit, I can only agree that George is wrong here. We’ve seen these kind of moves before, the driver behind brakes late to get part of their car alongside on the inside of the corner and the driver ahead has to either go off the track or have a collision. It’s not a fair way to pass.

      2. I saw this side of George when he was at Williams. As soon as he started getting endlessly hyped, he started becoming entitled, smug and arrogant. You saw this side breach the surface when he slapped Bottas helmet after crashing into him.

    2. Hahaha, there is somewhat of a trend here

      1. Ever since George became an MB driver full time he has turned into a whiny little driver just like the rest of that team… yeah Toto, I’m looking at you

    3. The divebomb is more of an RBR signature move

  5. He’s basically saying the guidance is so vague he has the discretion to dive bomb people off the track. I don’t like that energy.

    1. This ‘Russel interpretation’ makes overtaking a lot easier, just divebomb your front wheels in front of the rear wheels of the car your attacking :P

    2. There is always an element of ambiguity in rules of engagement or you end up with stewards obligated to penalise a whole lot more than anyone would like. A bit like track limits, where everyone suddenly seems to be angry about and unable to obey.

      Regarding this guidance, I think it’s a Russell problem rather than an issue with the guidance. His the only one I can think off, who has had issues with this guideline. Or at least that complained so vehemently after the race. The reality is that if he had spun Perez, Russell would have been correctly penalised,

  6. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    25th July 2022, 12:59

    If he was in Perez’s place he would be complaining about being given literally nowhere to go than off the circuit by an opportunistic and optimistic divebomb that relied heavily on him jumping off track and out of the way to avoid a near certain collision. It was a dumb move and made a lot worse by his complaining on the radio.

    1. Michael Masi
      25th July 2022, 18:28

      Perez moved over in the braking zone forcing George onto the kurb, no doubt reducing his braking capacity.. Perez effectively ran himself wide there by forcing Russell onto the kerb

  7. Less than impressed with Russell at the last 2 races.

  8. Please just make a legitimate pass, and don’t rely on the “rules” to gain a position. This radio chatter seems to be more common lately. It’s like being on the playground and telling on Johnny cause he pushed Reggie…

  9. Russell making himself look daft again. If Perez hadn’t gone off they would have crashed, and he had plenty of room. If they’d crashed, Russell would have got the penalty, 100%, so Perez was fully justified in going off. Russell is one of the least likeable drivers on the grid and seems to be getting even less likeable if he keeps on with the moaning…

  10. I could maybe agree with Russell’s POV, except that he ran right to the outside white line, leaving no room on track for Perez. If his argument is that Perez owes him room on the inside, then the next step is that George owes Perez room on the outside too.

    Sorry George, I think you are wrong here and Perez deserved to keep the position.

  11. People need to stop coming across under braking, Perez did it here and got away with it, but the rules are pretty clear that you shouldn’t do it. You need to brake in a straight line and leave a consistent gap (wherever that gap is, outside or inside), that’s a decent chunk of the reason for the contact IMO.

    Russel is right on the rules though – if you’re in any way alongside before the apex you have to be given space and Perez didn’t do that. Yes the rules basically allow divebombing but that’s kind of what the drivers were complaining about in the last race, and the rule/guidance is still there like that so I can understand why he expects those to be interpreted in the same way, which he argues they were not. I don’t agree it should be like that, and I don’t think the drivers do either, but as that’s what they are, you play to the rules after all.

    There won’t be any more clarity before the next race anyway, because if they bring it up in the briefing they’ll say ‘different stewards here, can’t comment on that’, which is the other thing the drivers are unhappy about. How F1 can’t find a way of having one panel of stewards and a single race director for a season I don’t know.

    1. This… Perez moved under braking ! Watch his steering as he brakes.

    2. Josh Woodard
      25th July 2022, 14:08


      However, the rules don’t denote what a significant portion is but I can assume the most of us will say that front wheel to back wheel doesn’t equal that.

      1. Actually they do define it. the very next sentence states

        When considering what is a ‘significant portion’ for an overtaking on the inside of a corner, among the various factors that will be looked at by the stewards when exercising their discretion, the stewards will consider if the overtaking car’s front tyres are alongside the other car by no later than the apex of the corner.”

        It literally states that that is a key consideration

        1. And that is the guidance Russell is talking about, and with that in mind he was entitled to space from Perez at that corner.

          There is little point in giving such guidance if it is going to be ignored by the stewards.

    3. +1
      “to stop coming across under braking”
      This is the first thing we should be talking about.
      Russell action looked like a divebomb because he had to avoid Perez cutting his like during braking.
      Apart from that Perez set a purple sector after cutting the chicane, not sure if he gave up that lasting advantage later on

      1. Perez came in front of Sainz and give his postition up. And because George didnot made the corner Perez wouldnot have to give anything back as he lost time waiting on Carlos.
        It was very clear that George didnot made the corner and Perez had to move away when they made contact.
        George should be happy nog getting an penaulty for causing a collision.

        1. Its very clear that RUS made the corner. Dont know which race you watched.

        2. Russell did make the corner, and he’d have made it with more room still if Perez hadn’t moved across under braking. It’s a matter of opinion by how much, but it’s factual that Russell made the corner, suggesting anything else is incorrect.

    4. Steering in to the corner is not the same as defending under braking (and by definition leaving or retaking the racing line). Perez was on the racing line before, just at the apex and had to give up the corner exit to evade contact. The divebomb maneuvers are OK when there is space, but this corner wasn’t that wide that Russel was able to leave the racing line exit to Perez. If the rules would allow this brake into the racing line exit without regards for the other driver, Monaco would be rather fun for the marshals :)

  12. Makes no sense to me though. That letter of the law is ridiculous, f1 is not a game of tag.

    1. Exactly. The guideline makes things worse than before.

  13. Vettel got a penalty in Mexico 2016 for similar moving under braking as Perez did here – both left just enough room on the inside, but it’s still moving. Strange Perez didn’t get a penalty.

    1. That rule is gone the same year.

  14. Don’t become a whiny little sh…op steward, George. You did well to jump him off the virtual restart. You were “front wheel to back wheel” with Zhou at Silverstone too, and didn’t seem to know the rules too well there – why should we listen to you now?

  15. This is a bit silly. The ‘overtaking guidelines’ aren’t actual rules and whatever else is true, Pérez would never have been able to turn in as Russell went all the way to the outside of the corner and thus (would have) crowded Pérez off. That is actually in the rules, where it is ‘expressly prohibited’. As such, the stewards rightly did nothing about it.

    That said, Pérez forced Russell really tight. He also did that in the previous race and there he ended up in the gravel. It might not be the best way to defend a position.

    1. My argument with Russel pushing Perez off, is that Perez caused that by squeezing him so much on the way in. If Perez wasn’t there at all and Russel broke where he did, I don’t think he’d have gone to the limit of the track like that, and that’s what the stewards should have been considering. Perez should have left a consistent amount of space.

      Weather that would be enough to either say give the place back, or give him a 5 second penalty, I’m not sure. At a minimum though, he could have been given a warning about it.

      1. Pérez didn’t make it easy for Russell, but a few things probably made the stewards ignore this: Pérez started moving to the left before Russell got anywhere near alongside, so Russell was taking a risk that he was driving into a closing space. Even so, Pérez left Russell enough room, only really forcing him unto the inside kerb with less than half the car in the middle of the corner. Despire that, Russell was still able to make the corner, but crucially, not with Pérez on the outside. So it was Russell who pushed Pérez off, and that’s the only actual rule that was broken (as opposed to ‘guidelines’).

        Still, I don’t think Pérez played this very well. He definitely compromised Russell’s line, and from Pérez’ onboard it’s clear that Russell’s trip over the kerb is what upsets the car and makes him jump to the outside, nearly hitting Pérez’ left-front wheel with his wing. That’s a big risk Pérez takes, and probably one he doesn’t need to.

        1. Michael, good points, but I think the idea of “driving into a closing space” is part of the problem. If Perez didn’t want Russell attacking on the inside, he should have closed off that space before Russell had started moving into it. Yes, that would have compromised Perez’s speed through the corner, but you can’t drive as if you have right of way.

          “Even so, Pérez left Russell enough room, only really forcing him unto the inside kerb with less than half the car in the middle of the corner.”

          So that means he didn’t leave enough room then. The white line defines the track limits, and when you are required to leave a car’s width, surely that is a width on track, not on the kerbs. Are you saying that this is a guideline rather than a rule? If so, I didn’t know that, but that would be the heart of the problem. If it is only a guideline then every driver and every steward will have a different opinion of what it means. Sports work best with rules, not guidelines.

    2. I should clarify, I’m only stating my opinion – it’s not a very clear cut scenario imo.

      1. Carl, my opinion was slightly different. I agree that once Russell hit the kerb, there was no way he could make the corner without pushing Perez off. However, my initial thought was that even if he hadn’t hit the kerb, he was either still going to need the whole track width at that speed, or he’d have to slow it so much that Perez would still have a speed advantage through the second corner. I don’t think either driver came out of it well, and both drivers were lucky to escape a possible race-ending collision.

  16. This Russel reminded me a bit of the Russel that hit and blamed Bottas. I thought he was a nicer character to be honest. As for the “letter of the law”, I’m not sure if he ever attended classes in high-school, but he seems to believe to understand the law better than the whole organization and his own team and his boss. Even that aside, if he was right than anyone could go for unrealistic launch from the distance and then just force the situation. It’s easy to be ahead for a short moment, all you have to do is brake less than you should. A bit of arrogance can’t hurt a racing driver, but there’s time and place for everything.

  17. That sort of super late braking ‘divebomb’ used to be considered good racing, Yet now the Netflix fans who see a fault in everything & think that easy DRS push of a button highway passes are ‘great racing’ think that the actual great racing is ‘unacceptable’.

    Example. When Montoya did a divebomb like this on Schumacher on the restart at Brazil in 2001 everyone loved it.

    People have just gotten so used to the boring DRS easy highway passing that they have forgotten what good racing & exciting overtaking really is.

    I mean look at Sky commentary yesterday. Croft & Di Resta started shouting with excitement over the DRS passes yet the great outside pass into Signes barely registered for them. An overtake like that in the days before DRS would have been super exciting, Just look at the Alonso pass on Michael at 130R in what 2005?

  18. I want to make this about Lewis. it’s a bit of a dive bomb from Russel on Perez just like the early lap incident in Abu Dhabi between Lewis and Max. Perez did the right thing and he gave up the advantages he got against Sainz back.

    Almost everyone in this comment is blaming Russel and praising Perez for taking and avoidance action which is basically more of what Lewis was doing last season against Max’s dive bombs

  19. Worrying stubborness from George here. Hope he redeems himself. Not sure how many seasons he is around but this is really a worrying interpretation.

  20. George is a good lad and he’s young so I hope he will learn he looks somewhat stupid by being so loud when clearly not being right. This is at least second case where he is louder than right, together with Imola last year, where he left Bo77as shrugging.

  21. I really dislike hearing drivers complain over the radio and wanting to win by getting a free pass. Russell did not impress me in France.

    I felt both Russell and Perez were at fault in that sequence, Russell more so, but I also felt that “no further action” was the right judgement at the time. What I would really like to see is the FIA/stewards reviewing that move after the event and saying how drivers should react in future. i.e. forget about whether it was a Mercedes or a Red Bull driver, forget about what drivers have been penalised for in the past, and simply say “if this happens in future, this is what is allowed, and any deviation from it is a penalty”.

    My feeling would be that once Russell had got any part of his car alongside Perez’s car, Perez should have left one car’s width inside the white line around that side of the track until there was daylight again between the two cars, but equally, if Russell wants to make a move on that side, he must also leave one car’s width for Perez on the other side of the track until he is clearly ahead. And by clearly ahead, I mean so that no part of his car is overlapping Perez’s car. If Perez didn’t want Russell coming up the inside then he should have covered the inside line, but then he has to accept that Russell can have a crack at the outside line instead. Likewise, if Russell wants to try to go inside, he can’t just straight line it and force Perez off track.

    F1 needs rules which allow racing and passing. Instead it has rules which too often need “experts” to look at the situation and decide whether or not someone had the racing line, or to try to decide who ran into who, and which leads to drivers whining “did you see that, he turned into me?”. If they were rigorously applying the “leave one car’s width” rule, you don’t need opinions any more, and if they were consistently penalising drivers who “slam the door shut”, drivers would pretty soon learn to drive to the rules, and the racing would be all the better for it.

    1. The problem that no rule can solve is that on some corners you cannot fit 2 cars in side by side, at some point the cars will intersect the same patch of road and at that point if one driver hasn’t ceded the position there will be contact. The argument either way here is how you define who owns that corner and the current guidance is that as the driver on the inside line with his front tyre past Perez’s rear tyre he was entitled to his line.

      None of the guidance can ever seem to quantify what is acceptable on exit and that’s because everyone knows on some corners there is only one line and overtakes can only happen with cooperation. I have more of an issue with the line into the corner and his moving in the braking zone to squeeze the apex that Perez chose to do than Russell running him wide on the exit. Perez should have covered the inside line earlier or stuck it on the normal line. Driving down the middle of the track then moving under braking is asking for an accident.

      1. Slowmo, you are right that there probably isn’t a one-size fits all rule. However, there is a rule that you cannot force another driver off the track, so I don’t see how Russell could possibly drive that corner at that speed without either forcing Perez off, or the two cars colliding.

        I really think F1 needs to have clear rules on this, not play it by ear when it inevitably happens. There’s only a limited number of corners on each circuit, so it would be quite possible for race control to sit down for a day before each GP and define the acceptable rules for each of the 20 or so corners, e.g. on this corner, if you are on the inside on entry, the outside car must avoid a collision, on that corner, the car on the inside must leave at least one car width on exit. I find it frustrating because they have all the video they could possibly need to analyse past incidents and explain the rules clearly to drivers, but every single race we see cars coming together and how you see it seems to depend entirely on which driver you support, and one half of the fans go away feeling they were robbed by short-sighted stewards.

  22. Have to say looking at a replay, Russell turns sharply left into the corner, over the kerb, but then unlocks pretty rapidly, into Perez’s line. I’m OK with the attempt, it’s the new normal, post-Verstappen lunge-as-you-like rules, and Perez has a few collisions coming his way, deservedly imo because of his own aggressive driving, but I also think Perez took the smart/safe option in bailing out and there wasn’t enough justification for him to cede the place after, Russell wasn’t really ahead and certainly hadn’t won the position. Good stewarding decision.

    1. Come on, this is not new, for instance Pérez did it to Raikkonnen a few years back at Monaco. Kimi had to do what Pérez did, bail over the chicane. I seem to remember it happened again at the next lap and Kimi didn’t bail, then they collided.

      1. I’m not saying it’s new, only that it’s now more or less validated.

  23. It was a failed overtake attempt, Perez backed off after, to give Russell the previous gap back and the stewards didn’t need to get involved. What happened on track was the correct outcome.

  24. carlos slim jr 2.0 back to his 2021 Abu Dhabi blocking at all cost cheating again by straight line cutting the chicane, he had no intention of making the corner or give up the position to RUS so why did he not get a 5 second penalty for gaining an unfair lasting advantage ?

  25. Neil (@neilosjames)
    25th July 2022, 19:30

    Don’t think Perez should have given up the place. Putting your car alongside is all well and good, but if the defending driver has to take evasive action to avoid contact, or if he’s not left enough space to make the corner, the defender shouldn’t have to give up the place.

    1. Perez was the one that caused the issue by moving under braking, not Russell forcing him off. Perez did well to play the victim.

  26. If Perez stayed within the track limited they collide. I don’t see any way with Russell being behind he isn’t found at fault for that

    So Perez has two options. Already be giving up the corner by the apex that he’s still ahead at by stamping on the brakes, or being pushed out wide off track

    Perez did the most sensible thing. George Russell seems like the kind of guy who doesn’t believe he’s ever in the wrong

  27. Yeah, no sorry George, but you really need to do a bit more studying of those rules and looking at it from other points of view. Coming in so hot you give the other guy no real option apart from deciding whether to let you guys crash or take to the runoff is not how racing should go.

  28. Everyone saying this was Russell whining and wrong should check Perez braking line into that corner during that lap vs other laps and understand that when the defending car moves/comes across under braking it causes issues for the car trying to pass, which is why it is not allowed.

    He probably took it too far on the radio, but given the team brief them to do that anyway (standard response to defend own actions and point out issues for race control) he should be given a bit of slack. Toto did what he had to.

  29. If George was in Checo’s position he would be complaining even more intensely.

    These detailed interpretations of “who’s corner” it is would ruin racing. Don’t make moves when a technical interpretation of the rule is required to see who is in the right. With a fraction of a second to make a decision you’ll often end up wrong. It’s not like George didn’t have any other opportunities to get past Perez.

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