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George Russell

Russell among three hit with grid penalty for 'violating spirit' of new F1 rule

Mercedes driver George Russell will start Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix after being found guilty of an infringement in qualifying at Interlagos. Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly have also been penalised.

Russell Mexico
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

George Russell, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly have been hit with two-place grid penalties for Sunday's São Paulo Grand Prix after being found guilty of pit-lane impeding.

Following Max Verstappen's reprimand at the Singapore Grand Prix - which the stewards conceded was lenient - and then multiple drivers, including Russell, being let off without penalty in Mexico for stopping in the pit lane last weekend, FIA Race Director Niels Wittich imposed a directive stating no driver could stop in the fast lane to create a gap.

The situation has been created by the maximum lap times introduced to stave off safety concerns from drivers backing up in the final sector as they attempt to obtain free air for qualifying efforts.

But with Interlagos' unique pit lane, drivers were instructed a gap could be created in the pit exit, before the second Safety Car line, as long as they kept well to the left of the track to allow other drivers to pass.

Russell, however, fell foul of the new directive in Q1 and following his penalty, the Mercedes driver will now start Sunday's race from eighth on the grid.

Russell 'violated spirit' of rules

The stewards' report read: "In order to avoid situations like the ones that occurred in Mexico, the Race Director’s Event Notes for this event contained a specific clause (item 14) stipulating that it was permitted to go slow in the pit exit to create a gap before crossing the SC2 line, however, by doing so, a driver must stay as far to the left as possible to allow other drivers to pass on the right side.

" RUS was exiting the pits, preparing for an out lap. RUS went slow to create a gap for a clear lap, but did not manage to stay completely to the left.

"As a result, following car(s) were not able to overtake, as intended by the Race Director’s instructions.

"This clearly violates the wording and the spirit of item 14 of the Race Director’s Event Notes."

Ocon and Gasly fell foul of the same breach and having qualified alongside each other, will now drop behind Kevin Magnussen to start 14th and 15th.

F1 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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