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Formula 1

Russell: F1 racing rules don’t factor in real-world dynamics

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

George Russell believes his penalty for colliding with Sergio Perez in the Austrian Grand Prix shows that Formula 1’s 2022 racing rules do not factor in the dynamics of a racing incident.

At the start of this year, the FIA introduced new guidelines for overtaking that placed great emphasis on the positioning of the cars at the apex.

A driver attempting a move on the outside, as Perez did to Russell on the opening lap at the Red Bull Ring, must be left room if they have a “significant portion” of their car alongside and the stewards will specifically consider if the overtaking car is “ahead of the other car from the apex of the corner”.

Perez braked later than Russell on the outside and moved ahead by the apex, before the pair made contact mid-corner in an incident Russell was judged “wholly” responsible for and hit with a five-second penalty over.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Austrian Grand Prix Race Day Spielberg, Austria

Russell conceded that “to the letter of the law, I was in the wrong and he was in the right” but argued this just showed the new guidelines are of limited use if followed explicitly without factoring in the specific circumstances of the incident.

He felt the penalty was “harsh” and reckoned there was “nothing more I could have done” as he was already on the brakes when Perez launched his move, and was applying full lock with Perez forcing him to take a tight line.

“Every single incident is different, the dynamics of every single incident is different,” said Russell.

“The fact was, Checo was on my outside, and I needed to leave him space, but if he puts me in a position when I’m already at the limit of my car, and somebody turns in who has more grip, there’s nowhere I can go.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Austrian Grand Prix Race Day Spielberg, Austria

“From the second I braked, I was on the limit of my car and there’s nothing more that I can do.

“But he was in the clean air, Carlos [Sainz] was on the inside defending [ahead of Russell].

“He’s got a lot of experience, he knows how this goes.

“From a stewarding prospective, it’s so difficult. We’re all looking for consistency but we don’t want penalties dished out left, right and centre.

“We need to be working closer together for us all to be on the same page.”

Russell, a Grand Prix Drivers Association director, said earlier in the weekend that the drivers collectively are frustrated with the consistency of decision-making so far this season.

Several drivers felt the new guidelines were not followed at the British Grand Prix one week before Austria, as that race featured multiple flashpoints including cases of drivers being forced off the track and Perez cutting a corner to gain a position.

But none of those incidents resulted in contact, whereas in Austria the Russell/Perez clash did – as did a collision between Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel at the same corner – which meant these accidents presented another test of the guidelines.

“Obviously I’m very biased but I wouldn’t have called it [Russell’s fault],” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

“He had full steering lock on the inside, and I wouldn’t have penalised that.

“I tried to have a neutral perspective, but maybe if I’m on the other side of the fence, I see it differently.”

And Perez did exactly that. While the Mercedes camp felt Perez had a part to play in what it clearly believed was a racing incident, he disagreed.

Perez put the blame on Russell and said he was “surprised” by what the Mercedes driver did.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Austrian Grand Prix Race Day Spielberg, Austria

“I was clearly ahead, it was up to George to really control his car, which he clearly couldn’t,” said Perez.

“And we ended up making contact. There was nothing else I could have done.

“I gave him enough room, I was already very close to the gravel to make sure we had enough room for both of us to make the corner.

“For the standards of George, I’m very surprised.”

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