Mercedes pick up fine as George Russell escapes penalty for unsafe release

George Russell escapes punishment as Mercedes fined over unsafe release in qualifying.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan,
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

Mercedes have been fined €5,000 for the unsafe release of George Russell during qualifying at the F1 Japanese Grand Prix.

Russell was released into the path of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri in the pit lane during the first part of qualifying in Suzuka, forcing Piastri to take avoiding action when Russell suddenly veered into the fast lane.

Piastri reported over team radio that Russell’s action was “very dangerous” and the incident was subsequently placed under investigation.

The Suzuka stewards blamed Russell’s mechanic for releasing him without first checking to see if the pit lane was clear and ultimately opted to issue Mercedes with a fine.

Piastri qualified sixth for Sunday’s race in Japan, with Russell only ninth, two places behind Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

The stewards’ verdict in full

"The driver of Car 63 (Russell) stated that on receiving the release signal from his mechanic, he had intended to drive down the working lane, however he saw the mechanic from Car 44 (Hamilton) in his peripheral vision and in order to avoid him, he claimed he had to move into the fast lane.

"He was not able to see the approach of Car 81 (Piastri). The driver of Car 81 stated that he had to take avoiding action by steering away from the approaching Car 63.

"Examination of the pit lane video shows that the mechanic of Car 63 who released the car did not look down to pit lane to see if it was clear.

"Even though the stated intention of the team was for Car 63 to move down the working lane then blend in prior to the pit exit, it is still the responsibility of the team to release the car in a safe manner and good practice would dictate that prior to the car being released, the pit lanes (both fast and working) should be checked for approaching vehicles."

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