George Russell demands FIA rule change after frightening crash: Lives at risk

After hitting the barrier in Australia, Russell was flung back onto the track with his car on its side

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George Russell has called on the FIA to bring in new technology to make quicker decisions in responding to incidents on track, after his terrifying accident at the Formula 1 2024 Australian Grand Prix left him fearing for his safety.

The Mercedes star crashed on the final lap of the race after being caught out by Fernando Alonso’s controversial brake test at Turn 4, which earned the Spaniard a drive-through penalty that was equivalent to 20 seconds being added to his race time.

It was no consolation to Russell, however, who lost all of the points he was on the verge of taking home from Down Under.

But the 26-year-old would have just been relieved to walk away unhurt after being flipped over onto his head during his crash, hanging upside down in the middle of the track.

“It was an incredibly uncomfortable position to be in. You’re on a blind bend, 250 kilometres an hour, right on the racing line with the car half upside down, waiting for disaster to happen,” Russell told the press in Japan.

“Fortunately, I had a 10-second gap behind me and I think it was 10 or 12 seconds before the Safety Car came out. But in the space of 10 seconds, you can have five, six, seven cars if that was on lap one of the race and I probably [would have] been hit numerous times, even with the yellow flag.

“We’ve seen close incidents before where a car comes back [onto the track], Carlos [Sainz] in 2022 in Japan.”

Russell comes up with solution

At one point, Russell was left stranded in the middle of the road in a blind spot when drivers reach speeds of around 160mph, and the panic was evident in his voice as he desperately tried to get the FIA to bring out the red flag to force other drivers to go slower near him.

Instead, a yellow flag was waved and cars had to try and navigate past the wreckage of his W15, with Lance Stroll one of the first cars on the scene and the Canadian was close to crashing into Russell’s car.

George Russell at 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix | Mercedes / Sebastian Kawka
George Russell wants the FIA to bring in changes.| Mercedes / Sebastian Kawka

Reviewing the incident a fortnight later in Suzuka, Russell admitted that he was lucky to avoid being struck by another car and the Briton has called on the FIA to review their process of how incidents are flagged on track, suggesting the speed of the notification needs to be improved to ensure there is no repeat of the near-miss in Melbourne.

“I think we need to find a way that if a car is in a danger zone, automated… VSC straight away, within half a second or so because those seconds count,” Russell added.

“Lives are at risk. We’ve seen it at Spa numerous times in the past, cars aquaplaning. I think it’s time with the technology that we have to make steps in this area.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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