The Controversial Pitlane Incident: George Russell Slapped with Grid Penalty
In a surprising turn of events during the qualifying session, Williams driver George Russell found himself at the center of controversy. Exiting the pitlane in Q1, Russell took a slow approach down the pit exit at Senna Esses, aiming to create space between himself and the cars ahead. However, his actions ended up impeding Alpine driver Pierre Gasly.
While this weekend’s regulations allowed drivers to create gaps after leaving pits due to previous blocking incidents in Mexico, there was a specific condition attached – maintaining position on the left side and allowing other cars to pass on the right. Unfortunately for Russell, it seemed he hadn’t complied entirely with these requirements.
The FIA stewards reviewed the incident and concluded that Russell had indeed hindered Gasly’s progress. As a result, they decided to impose a two-place grid penalty on him for his actions.
“The Race Director’s Event Notes contained an explicit provision (item 14) allowing drivers to go slow in order to create gaps before crossing the SC2 line,” stated their verdict. “However, it is essential for drivers undertaking this maneuver to stay as far left as possible and enable others behind them to overtake.”
Russell’s failure to remain completely on the left side prevented following cars from passing him effectively violating both the wording and spirit of item 14 outlined by the Race Director’s instructions.
This grid penalty drops Russell from sixth position down to eighth place on tomorrow’s starting grid. This comes after an eventful Q3 session where all ten contenders vied for chances at securing front-row positions.