George Russell and Mercedes have received a “formal warning” from the Spanish Grand Prix stewards following his clash with team-mate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying.
Russell and Hamilton collided on the pit straight at the end of Q2 at Barcelona as both attempted to start a lap, as Hamilton tried to pass Russell on the outside as his team-mate had moved right then back to the left.
The two drivers had inadvertently ended up nose-to-tail because Russell aborted a flying lap and was resetting to get one last attempt in, then had an extremely slow end to the lap while getting out of the way of cars that were at full speed.
As he moved aside for Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari at the penultimate corner, Russell was not told that Hamilton was approaching and Hamilton was not told that Russell was moving slowly and going to start another lap.
Hamilton had to check up when entering the final corner because he caught Russell so suddenly, as his team-mate moved back onto the racing line and accelerated.
A further misunderstanding occurred on the pit straight as Hamilton thought Russell might be giving him a tow when Russell moved to the right after crossing the start-finish line, but that was only because Russell was trying to get in Sainz’s slipstream.
But as Hamilton tried to pass Russell on the left, Russell was unaware Hamilton was there and moved back across, causing contact that broke Hamilton’s front wing.
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This “abnormal change of direction” from Russell, which Hamilton called dangerous on the team radio, is what the stewards have taken issue with.
Their verdict did not contain detailed information but the formal warning and the wording indicates the stewards felt both driver and team could have handled the situation better as Russell failed to check his mirrors and Mercedes had not informed him Hamilton was approaching.
The collision did not appear to impact either driver as Russell completed the lap without issue and was just too slow to escape Q2, while Hamilton did not report any issue with the car in Q3 as a result of it.
Team boss Toto Wolff said: “It was a lack of communication that we should have handled in the garage.
“It was an intense moment at the end of Q2 though, so there is nobody we need to blame.”