George Russell has been given a formal warning by the stewards after colliding with his team mate during qualifying.Lewis Hamilton overtook his team mate. Russell said the incident was caused by a “miscommunication” as he made room for other cars around him and didn’t realise his team mate was starting a timed lap behind him.
The stewards accepted Russell’s explanation that he had let Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jnr past him before starting his lap and had to avoid the Ferrari ahead of him as he crossed the starting line. They noted Mercedes did not alert Russell to the fact Hamilton was starting a lap behind him.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said the incident “looks silly but it wasn’t, it was just miscommunication.”
“It’s all down to a miscommunication because drivers in the same team don’t want to crash into each other on their final lap in qualifying,” he said. “So it was just an unfortunate situation that George just launched a lap and Lewis saw it as his last opportunity and didn’t think that George was on that lap.”
“It shouldn’t happen,” Wolff added. “Team mates should never collide and even with another car, you shouldn’t collide in qualifying. It’s always unfortunate circumstances that can potentially penalise both cars.
“Here it didn’t penalise George because he didn’t know and he went onto his lap and Lewis had to change his front wing. This is a team effort and something in our communications we need to review after that incident to avoid it in the future.”
Stewards’ decision on Russell
The stewards heard from the driver of car 63 (George Russell), the driver of car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), team representatives and reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video, team radio and in-car video evidence.
The driver of car 63 stated that as he was just starting his fast lap he was looking forward and had not checked his mirrors. His team did not inform him of the approach of car 44. However in mitigation, he was reacting to the car in front of him (car 55 [Sainz]) which had just finished its fast lap. In addition at the end of his out lap the driver of car 63 had to slow significantly to avoid impeding cars one [Verstappen] and 55.
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