Williams driver George Russel has been hit with a three-place penalty for tomorrow's British Grand Prix after the FIA stewards found that he was to blame for the get-together with Ferrari racer Carlos Sainz in the sprint qualifying.
The 23-year-old driver was one of the stars in yesterday's qualifying session after securing P8 for today's sprint qualifying with which Russell repeated what he achieved at the Austrian Grand Prix two weeks ago by qualifying in the top ten with Williams. The sport's inaugural spring format, however, started in a rather bad manner for Russell after he tagged the back end of Sainz's Ferrari SF21 at Brooklands, forcing the Spaniard off the track.
While Russell could continue without any harm to his 'race', Sainz fell back to P19, forcing him to perform a recovery job. The Madrid-born executed a perfect recovery drive by climbing up the order to see the chequered flag in P11. Despite racing on home soil, the stwards launched an investigation into the incident following the sprint qualifying.
The stewards ruling said: "Cars 63 [Russell] and 55 [Sainz] approached turn 6 with Car 63 on the inside, in the middle of the track, and Car 55 on the outside. Car 63 locked the front brakes briefly and then understeered towards the edge of the track at the exit of the turn and contacted Car 55, which was forced off the circuit and on to the grass. Car 63 is judged at fault for the incident."
"The Stewards note that breaches of the regulations of this sort in a race normally result in time penalties, which are scaled based on normal Grand Prix race lengths. Both because of the shorter length of Sprint Qualifying and because it is used to establish the grid for the race, the Stewards feel that grid position penalties, as imposed here, are more appropriate," the statement read.
Sainz was also under investigation for potentially rejoining the track in an unsafe manner after the Russell clash. However, the stewards found that the Spaniard did nothing wrong after reviewing the video and telemetry data.
The stewards said: "The driver of Car 55 described the actions he took to reduce the speed of the car in order to safely re-join and mitigate what was a potentially dangerous situation. The Stewards examined the video and the telemetry data and found no conclusive evidence that the driver of Car 55 did not take sufficient action to avoid the situation."
Furthermore, three drivers - Sainz, Nikita Mazepin and Sebastian Vettel - were handed a warning for failing to follow the Race Director's instructions on practice starts in FP2,