George Russell learns Japanese GP penalty fate after ‘very dangerous’ move on F1 rival

The moment George Russell was let out of the garage by his Mercedes team and nearly ran into Oscar Piastri’s McLaren in the pit lane was looked into by the stewards.

During the Japanese Grand Prix qualifying, Mercedes was fined for recklessly releasing George Russell into the path of another driver.

However, Russell escaped receiving a grid penalty for the same incident. That’s in spite of the fact that in the opening laps of Saturday’s Suzuka session, he nearly ran into Oscar Piastri in the pits.

Russell was allowed to enter the pit lane by Mercedes, but she was let go right in front of the McLaren that was in motion. To ensure they avoided making contact, the Australian had to act swiftly and avoidance-wise.

He expressed his annoyance at having to make this decision over the radio, calling the move “very dangerous.” Both drivers were called to give their accounts of what happened after qualifying because the stewards thought it was worth investigating.

It was determined following the hearing that punishing Russell would have been unjust. However, Mercedes was found to be at fault as well, so the Silver Arrows were fined £4,300.

The stewards explained their reasoning in writing as follows: “The driver of Car 63 [Russell] stated that he had intended to drive down the working lane upon receiving the release signal from his mechanic, but he saw the mechanic from Car 44 [Lewis Hamilton] in his peripheral vision and in order to avoid him, he claimed he had to move into the fast lane.”

“He was unable to see Car 81 [Piastri] coming.” Car 81’s driver reported that he was forced to steer clear of the oncoming Car 63 in order to avoid it. The mechanic of Car 63, who released the vehicle, did not glance down to pit lane to check if it was clear, according to an analysis of the pit lane video.

“The team is still responsible for releasing the car in a safe manner, and good practice would dictate that the pit lanes (both working and fast) should be checked for approaching vehicles prior to the car being released, even though the stated intention of the team was for Car 63 to move down the working lane then blend in prior to the pit exit.”

As scheduled, Russell will line up ninth on the starting grid for the race on Sunday after teammate Hamilton outqualified him for the first time this season. He bemoaned the fine margins that left him much further down the grid than he would have preferred in remarks made following the session.

“It’s just so tight out there between ourselves, McLaren, Aston Martin, and Ferrari,” the British player stated. You’ll be leading that pack if you nail that lap. You will be at the back if you don’t. We anticipated that this circuit would provide a small challenge. We are aware that the fast-paced turns will be our biggest obstacle.”

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