George Russell, Williams, Silverstone, 2020

Russell given five-place grid penalty for failing to respect yellow flags

2020 British Grand Prix

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George Russell has been given a five-place grid penalty for failing to slow for double waved yellow flags.

The stewards have also given the Williams driver three penalty points on his licence.

While three-place penalties have been given for similar infringements recently, the stewards decided Russell’s infringement was serious enough to receive a stiffer penalty as he set his fastest lap of Q1 while passing the double waved yellow flag.

According to the stewards, Russell told them “he only saw the double yellow flag signal at turn seven 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 pointed out the Williams pit wall did not make it clear to Russell a double waved yellow flag was being shown and that he needed to back out of his flying lap.

“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.”

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The stewards felt Russell’s response to the yellow flags was inadequate. “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,” they said.

“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, and therefore order a five grid place penalty and three penalty points.”

Speaking before the penalty was announced, Russell said “I saw the yellow flag, I lifted, I felt like I was completely in control of the car.”

“I definitely lost a few tenths,” he added. “I know I went quicker on the lap but the engine was turned up, [I had a] fresh set of tyres, the track was rubbering in so it’s only normal you’re only going to improve even when there is a yellow flag. I felt like I did enough.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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16 comments on “Russell given five-place grid penalty for failing to respect yellow flags”

  1. It is a bit strange that the penalty is so massive. It seems that Leclerc and Ferrari will once again escape any serious penalty for unsafe pit release just like they did in 2019 German GP. See more, here: https://www.racefans.net/2019/08/03/ferrari-says-decision-to-fine-team-for-leclercs-unsafe-release-was-proper/

    1. That pit release deserves a fine at minimum by their own standards….

      But yeah, I agree that others have been given on-track penalties for an unsave release and Charles should have gotten one today too.

    2. Are we forgetting joke of penalty for Max at Monaco GP? Or how Leclerc wasnt blackflagged for endangering lives of other drivers at Japanese GP.?

  2. I was going to note about the standard being three places for these types of instances, but the article already covers this up, so instead: I also thought it was a single-yellow at the time. His lap time improvement came directly from the specific mini-sector where the yellows were active by the looks of it, because, for example, three years ago, both Nico’s escaped any sanction in Austria and Hungary respectively despite the former setting PB sector time, and the latter a purple sector time, as well as also improving in overall lap time under double-waved yellows precisely because the improvement(s) didn’t come from the relevant section of track in either case.

    1. I should’ve typed ‘four’ years ago rather than three.

    2. Indeed. That was widely condemned at the time though I remember, Rosberg was very very lucky. Thankfully they are penalising cars that do not significantly slow under double waved yellows.

      1. @john-h The Hungary pole lap-case from that season indeed was widely condemned even though he did slow down significantly for the relevant section of track. He was just lucky with the timing as the yellows were about the get lifted by the time he reached that portion of the track.

  3. Don’t mess with double waved yellows. As much as I like Russel, totally justified penalty unfortunately.

  4. I wonder when they will just implement automatic power limiter through ECU…
    Once system detects yellow flags – you can press the pedal as much as you like, you won’t go faster.

  5. Three penalty points seems like too many, as ignoring yellow flags is usually two. Three penalty points are normally only given for larger incidents like Vettel crashing into Hamilton in Baku 2017, or Maldonado crashing into Gutierrez in Bahrain 2014.

  6. Latifi making himself very popular within his own team this weekend… going off in practice and in qually, creating a situation that ruins both his own starting position and that of his teammate. Well done, sir!

    1. as long as their bank accounts have any cash at all due to Latifi’s father, his popularity with the team will be fine!@

  7. I would be interested to see the onboard, as both Verstappen’s and Hamilton’s incidents (the 2 that come to my mind) were pretty blatant. I feel like Russell’s must have been really bad to get a worse penalty than that

    1. Just seen the onboard on the F1 website, really not sure it was worse than incidents in previous years. Still, I think they should be penalized heavily for not slowing down, there are yellow flags for a reason

  8. He is no doubt very fast, but we’re also seeing the rookie mistakes (ie. This penalty, the mistake on the opening lap in Austria) that we didn’t see earlier because he is in a more competitive car. It is no wonder that Mercedes are not promoting him yet. It is just inexperience though, he’ll get better and be a real force in a Merc.

    1. Nothing against russel, I think he’s one of the best drivers in the grid atm, BUT everyone would be a force in a car that is consistently the best every year and atm has a 1 sec margin on others, you could take the worst driver and you still might be able to make 2nd place.

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