Grand Prix Drivers' Association director George Russell has backed the FIA and race director Michael Masi after criticism over the timing of the safety car and red flag deployment at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Lance Stroll suffered a hefty impact after a tyre failure on the 2.2-kilometre home straight in Baku which could have prompted a red-flag period, whilst Max Verstappen's own tyre failure was not initially greeted with a safety car deployment.
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was highly critical on team radio about the length of time it took for the safety car to be deployed, timed at 89 seconds, whilst afterwards he suggested it would be a discussion to be had in the next drivers' briefing,
"Obviously, I trust in the FIA to make the right call so whether it was a red flag, safety car, yellow flag, they are the experts."
Williams gearbox issue takes Russell out of points battle
The subsequent red flag to clean up the mess caused by Verstappen's crash allowed the pack to form on the grid for a standing restart and a chance for Russell to finally achieve a first points finish with Williams.
But as the field finished the formation lap, Russell ground to a halt on pit entry and retired from the race.
"We had a gearbox issue," he explained. "Don't know exactly what it was but it was a shame to end that way especially as the anticipation grows for the final two laps.
"The car was feeling good on the hards, we were relatively fast in the middle stint when we were behind Kimi [Raikkonen] and Valtteri [Bottas].
"Obviously, we got the tyres in a good window on that formation lap so I don't know if that was crazy or not but there is always an opportunity so it was a shame not to be able to do it.
"We struggled in the first stint but once we got into the groove and got the tyres under control the pace was pretty decent.
"It was always going to be difficult in the beginning. Baku is always difficult, challenging for the drivers, challenging for the cars so it was frustrating to end the weekend in that way."
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