George Russell has been handed a 5-place grid penalty for failing to slow for a yellow flag during today’s qualifying session.
Ironically the yellow was the result of his teammate, Nicholas Latifi spinning off at Luffield in the closing moments of Q1.
On hearing that he was under investigation, Russell insisted he was innocent, telling his team to look at the trace. The stewards disagreed.
The stewards, in addition to hearing from Russell and a team representative, reviewed the relevant video, radio, telemetry and marshalling system evidence.
Russell explained to the stewards that he only saw the double yellow flag signal at Turn 7 in his peripheral vision and believed it was just a single yellow. He lifted slightly earlier than he had on his previous lap, but his speed was not “significantly” slower than previous laps, although he explained that he was in full control of the car and felt that he would have been able to take avoiding action if needed; and further that he was at a similar speed because he was on a faster lap overall.
The stewards reviewed the team radio and noted that the team warned him that a yellow was ahead. They did not specify that it was a double yellow flag. Further, they did not advise him that he needed to abort the lap, following the Race Director’s notes in this regard that he should not be able to set a meaningful lap time. Though this was, in fact, his fastest lap of Q1.
“The purpose of the Race Director’s note is to emphasise the extreme importance of the necessity to follow the flag signals for safety reasons,” said the stewards. While they explored all possible mitigating factors, they ultimately determined that it was the responsibility of the driver to see and follow the double yellow flag signal correctly in a potentially very dangerous situation.
Though they believe the team could have helped more in this regard, ultimately, Russell could not set a meaningful lap time in the circumstance, and therefore the stewards handed the Briton a 5-place grid penalty and three penalty points.