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Stewards allow Russell to keep his first F1 points despite Mercedes pit-stop calamity
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Stewards allow Russell to keep his first F1 points despite Mercedes pit-stop calamity

Stewards allow Russell to keep his first F1 points despite Mercedes pit-stop calamity

Stewards allow Russell to keep his first F1 points despite Mercedes pit-stop calamity

Stewards allow Russell to keep his first F1 points despite Mercedes pit-stop calamity
Ian Parkes

George Russell has been allowed to keep his first points in Formula 1 after the Sakhir Grand Prix stewards fined Mercedes €20,000 for its bungled pit stop that ultimately cost the Briton victory.

Russell, replacing the Covid-stricken Lewis Hamilton, had been cruising to the win up until the point when his stand-in at Williams Jack Aitken spun at the final corner and lost his front wing that triggered a safety car.

Mercedes opted to double-stack Russell and team-mate Valtteri Bottas, only to fit the front-axle set of the Finn's tyres on to the race leader's W11.

After sending Russell out, Mercedes immediately realised its mistake, leading to the Briton returning to the pits at the end of the following lap to have his own set of medium tyres fitted, dropping him to fifth.

A fightback led to Russell getting back up to second behind Racing Point's Sergio Perez, only to suffer a slow puncture that necessitated a fourth stop that relegated him to 15th.

The 22-year-old managed to claim ninth by the chequered flag, as well as clinching a point for the fastest lap of the race, but with the three points overall under threat due to a stewards' investigation for incorrectly fitting the wrong tyres.

The stewards determined, however, that the incident was "caused by a radio communications technical issue wherein the pit wall’s communication to the pit crew that car 63 [Russell] was entering the pits prior to [and not after] car 77 [Bottas] failed to be received by the crew of car 63 because at the same time, the driver of car 63 transmitted over the top of that message.

"This resulted in the front tyres of car 77 accidentally going onto car 63. [The cars were 'double stacked' at the time.]"

Confirming the incident was "clearly a breach of the regulations and would normally involve a sporting penalty up to disqualification", it was determined that "in this case, there are mitigating circumstances, additional to the radio issue referred to above".

The stewards added that: "Firstly, the team rectified the problem within one lap. This involved car 63 making another pit stop, thus dropping it further down the classification.

"Secondly, car 77 made a pit stop to change tyres only to find that the front tyres to be fitted to it were on car 63, so was sent out after considerable delay with the tyres that were on car 77 prior to the pit stop. This also impacted the final classification of car 77.

"Thirdly, although this type of infringement is not catered for under the 'three-lap tolerance' referred to in the second paragraph of Article 24.4 b) [which currently only refers to the use of tyres of differing specifications], we consider it to be similar in nature.

"However, the responsibility to fit tyres in compliance with the regulations still rests with any team and thus a penalty is considered as being required.

"It is recommended that the FIA consider amending Article 24.4 b) to accommodate this type of breach when it is rectified without delay.

"It is noted that this type of breach has not previously been experienced in Formula 1."

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