George Russell handed punishment from stewards for Japanese GP qualifying incident with Piastri

George Russell initially qualified ninth for the 2024 Japanese GP, behind Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton

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The Formula 1 stewards at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix elected not to hand George Russell a grid penalty for his Q1 incident involving Oscar Piastri, instead fining the Mercedes driver a fine.

Mercedes released Russell and Lewis Hamilton simultaneously but while the seven-time champion kept right before merging into the fast lane of the pit lane, Russell moved straight over to the left and forced Piastri to slam on the brakes to avoid a crash.

An investigation for unsafe release was announced before qualifying had even finished, with Piastri going on to qualify sixth and Russell down in ninth – both drivers two places behind their teammates.

However, despite Piastri calling the move ‘very dangerous’, Russell keeps his position inside the top 10 with the stewards laying blame of the incident on the Mercedes mechanic that released the Brit.

What did the stewards say?

The stewards were investigating whether Russell had breached Article 34.14a of the FIA F1 Sporting Regulations, and their conclusion read:

“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.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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