Russell hit with 5-place grid penalty for failing to respect yellow flags in qualifying
George Russell has been in impressive form so far this season, with the Williams driver securing his third successive Q2 appearance in British Grand Prix qualifying. However, his joy will be short-lived after the stewards handed him a five-place grid penalty for failing to respect double waved yellow flags following a spin from team mate Nicholas Latifi, relegating him to the back of the grid.
After popping in a lap good enough for 15th and a place in Q2 at Silverstone, the Briton was straight on the radio to his team making his case for why his lap should stand, insisting that he lifted when he saw the yellow flags and that it could be seen in his car's telemetry.
The stewards announced they would investigate after the session, and having spoken to Russell and a Williams team representative, plus reviewing the video, radio, telemetry and marshalling system evidence, they found he had breached the regulations as he did not abort the lap when double yellow flags were waved, as per the Race Director’s notes issued ahead of the race weekend.
In a statement explaining their decision, they said: “The driver, 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. 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. While the Stewards 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.
“The team could certainly have helped more in this regard. But ultimately, he could not set a meaningful lap time in this circumstance.”
In addition Russell was handed three penalty points, the first he has on his licence. He’s now set to start his home race from 20th on the grid.