(L to R): George Russell, Mercedes; Lance Stroll, Aston Martin; Baku City Circuit, 2023

Stroll’s “questionable” driving led to surprise pit entry pass – Russell

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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George Russell questioned whether Lance Stroll’s driving was within the rules after overtaking his rival on the way into the pits during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver passed his rival on the way into the pit lane when the pair came in for their first tyre changes together during the Safety Car period.

Stroll was running close behind his team mate Fernando Alonso before they came in and Aston Martin advised him to drop back so both drivers could complete their pit stops without being delayed. However Russell was able to move alongside him as they came into the pits and take the position.

“I managed to overtake him on the way into the pit lane,” said Russell. “I think it’s against the rules to do what he did.

“It was obviously a bit questionable but it was quite satisfying to get ahead and a good pit stop by the guys.”

However Russell squandered his advantage soon after the restart. “I’m a little bit disappointed with myself,” he admitted.

“I made a really good start, got in a good position, good around the pit stop to get ahead of Stroll. And then I just made a mess of the restart.

“I defended from Lance, almost went into the back of Fernando, ran wide, got my tyres dirty and ultimately, that’s the reason why Lance and Lewis [Hamilton] got by.

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“From then on in, it was line astern. I don’t know what it was like behind, but from my side it seemed like there was no overtaking.”

Russell was able to claim an extra point by setting the fastest lap of the race after pitting for soft tyres at the end of the race. “I’ll take the extra point, but the only reason we had that opportunity is because we were in a bad position,” he said. “So, whether we finish P4 or whether we finish P8 as we did, it’s far from P1 and P2, so we have a lot of work to do.”

Lance Stroll’s radio messages from his pit stop

After the Safety Car was deployed, Stroll’s race engineer Ben Michell told him he would be pitting at the same time as Alonso and therefore needed to drop back:

MichellSo, Lance, how is the balance? Balance check.
StrollDefinitely rears…
MichellCopy, copy that.
MichellCopy. So Lance both… Safety Car, Safety Car. Run switch cool, delta positive.
MichellWe need to make a gap, Lance, we need to make a gap.
StrollOkay, tell me where. How much on my delta.
MichellWe’re stacking we’re stacking.
StrollJust tell me how much you need.
MichellOkay Lance we’re stacking. Fernando is one second in front of you, we’re stacking.
MichellOkay remember your limiter, Lance. Run switch start, run switch start. Box box.

Russell warned his team “Stroll is backing me up, I reckon,” behind the Safety Car. “Stroll is going very slow,” he added as they approached the pit lane entrance.

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As they came into the pits Russell passed Stroll on the left-hand side of the Aston Martin, and he kept the position after Mercedes changed his tyres. “Nice one, nice one,” he said, while Stroll complained to his team about his rival’s move:

MichellWe’re racing. Russell. Race, race, race. Run switch race. Race, racing Russell.
MichellOkay exit pit lane, Ocon two behind, Ocon two behind hard, Russell 1.9 in front.
MichellSafety Car.
StrollRussell crossed the pit lane on the left coming in. It’s in the slow lane.
MichellWe’re not allowed to make a gap on the track, Lance. We’re not allowed to make a gap on the track.
StrollI didn’t.
MichellHead down. Exactly, so head down, head down. Run switch cool. Run switch cool

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2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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    26 comments on “Stroll’s “questionable” driving led to surprise pit entry pass – Russell”

    1. Overtook? He stayed side-by-side before eventually turning left for the Mercedes pit box, although he may have had the front slightly ahead.
      Anyway, yes, perhaps slightly questionable driving by Stroll, but sneaky tactics nevertheless, even if not quite like Seb in the 2016 Chinese GP.

      1. so if it was the last lap on the finish line then still it didnt mattered that he was slightly ahead? havent overtook, still stroll would have won?:)

      2. If you look at Stroll’s onboard, Russell did overtake, under the safety car. His nose was significantly ahead.

        What Stroll did was sneaky and a bit naughty, but George could see in plenty of time and still chose to overtake on pit entry so he could run side by side along the pit lane… IMHO that was a dangerous move. Were I in the stewards box, I’d have penalised him for it. Even if on the technicality of overtaking under the safety car.

        1. Pit entry is legal for overtakes under safety car, completely legal from rus

          1. It might not have been penalized before “who cares1” but that does not mean this is a good thing. As @drmouse mentions, this was pretty dangerous, regardless of whether under the SC or not really, so for better safety we should want the stewards to look into this and make sure drivers don’t do that.

    2. Stroll drove unnecessarily slowly. Should have been penalized. No one should be allowed this tactic.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        30th April 2023, 21:57

        This has never been penalized in the past, even not during the safety car and there have been many occasions where other drivers have done the same. Bottas went much slower than this in 2018 when he pitted during the safety car during this track. it is ridiculous to blame Stroll for going slow when the safety car was out.

    3. Russell clearly has his front wing ahead of Stroll as they cross the pit line and by his own admission ‘overtook’ him. Can someone more familiar with the regs explain why this isn’t passing under a SC?
      Admittedly it was marginal but how much ahead do you need to be for an infringement?

      1. As far ahead as the stewards want… Technically, putting your nose past by a millimeter is an infringement, but as with so much in this “sport” it’s at the stewards’ discretion.

      2. The pitlane is not part of the race track. Overtaking in the pitlane is allowed under the SC F.E. when someone has a slower stop you are allowed to take the position as well.

        1. I can understand allowing overtakes by pit stops. But this wasn’t that, this was an overtake on pit entry, forcing them to (dangerously) drive side by side down the pit lane.

          If the team had released Russell into the path of another car, such that they had to drive side by side to the pit exit, they’d be done for an unsafe release.

          If what Russell did want against the rules, it should be. Note I say this as a Mercedes supporter. The move was extremely dangerous.

    4. Russell almost crashed into the Ferrari team, standing in the slow lane. He should have been penalised severely!

    5. Russel should have gotten a penalty. You can’t pass that way when entering the pits. Stroll was writhing his rights to go slow to create space. George is getting very entitled driving for the big team.

      1. @gmp For example Vettel did it in china few years back. It is completely legal because the rule starts after the pitlane line. I was thinking did he (russel) overtake under SC?

        1. By the onboard I saw, he put his nose a foot or so ahead before the line, and stayed there till he peeled off into his box. That’s an overtake, certainly.

        2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          1st May 2023, 9:07

          Vettel overtook 2 cars fully and got back inline and they entered the pit lane single file. Russell went side by side with Stroll down the actual pit lane, which certainly could be considered dangerous as it is what happens when teams do an unsafe release – and get penalised. If Stroll was slow enough for russell to make a successful pass in the pitlane entry, I wouldn’t be against what he did.

          I don’t think it is against the rules to overtake in the pit lane entry under safety car, but i think it should be. As no more accidents should happen if the safety car is out. And allowing racing in the pit lane entry seems crazy as an accident could occur and then if there needs to be a red flag relating to this or the other incident, the pit lane entry is blocked.

    6. Wasn’t there a safety car when they came in to the pits? You can’t overtake under safety car no matter what? Or have I missed something? Isn’t Russel the one who to blame for? Under normal circumstances that would have been a great move but under SC?

      1. As one singer put it: you know the rules and so do I..

      2. your allowed to over take in the pits, how is any one supposed to go past those being worked on if no over taking is allowed?

        1. It’s very different passing a car which is in its pit box, under the control of the team (who have a responsibility not to release them unsafely). This was overtaking on pit entry and putting both cars into the dangerous position of having to drive side-by-side past the garages.

          What would have happened if Stroll’s pit box had been before Russell’s? He wouldn’t have been able to make his pit stop because Russel was in the way. Allowing this sort of behaviour would tempt drivers to use that to their advantage, playing dangerous games in the pit lane and putting the mechanics’ lives at risk.

          I don’t think anyone can convince me that these sorts of antics should be allowed.

    7. Russell as usual blaming everyone but himself

      1. He’s really one cocky SoB. Drives two wide in the pit lane and justifies it with a “what about” Stroll

    8. Since when has backing up an opponent in a race become illegal?

      1. When it influences the illustrious George Russell. He’s out of his mind

        1. @floodo1 Slightly hyperbolical, don’t you think?

    Comments are closed.