How queue-jumping Russell avoided an F1 penalty in Hungarian GP

Formula 1’s top stars know that if they no longer go for a gap that exists, they are no longer a racing driver. So when George Russell saw a big gap at the pitlane exit ahead of the restart at the Hungarian Grand Prix, he went for it.

How queue-jumping Russell avoided an F1 penalty in Hungarian GP

After emerging from his tyre change into a queue of cars to the left of him that were all patiently waiting for the pit exit to turn green, the sharp eyed Briton saw a huge empty space to the right of them.

So rather than line-up in his designated spot, or even behind team-mate Nicholas Latifi, he went for the free area of a track

“What can I do? Can I go to the front of the queue?” he asked over the team radio as he moved forwards.

After declaring an expletive, he was given the simple message: "Negative" by his team.

By then, though, it was too late to back out. He had jumped everyone and was the front-running car on slick tyres – and potentially set to go into the lead once Lewis Hamilton was forced to stop at the end of the lap.

"I thought I was leading the race at some point to be honest," said Russell afterwards. "It was just on that restart that it was a very odd situation, having everybody queuing up at the end of the pitlane.

"In an ordinary set of circumstances you can overtake cars in the pitlane or you can pull out and race them. So I saw an opportunity and I just thought, 'screw it, let's go for it because with risk versus reward, the reward part outweighed the risk'."

But with Williams' "negative" message making it clear that he shouldn't have done it,  Russell quickly knew his reward was going to be short lived.

With it clear that he had potentially broken the rules by overtaking cars in the pitlane, there was an acceptance from both the team and driver that he could be handed a timed or stop-go penalty.

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, George Russell, Williams FW43B

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521, George Russell, Williams FW43B

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

In Russell's head, the likelihood of a penalty meant that he just needed to get his head down and try to build up as much of an advantage as he could to counter any time loss.

“I always look forward,” he said. “When a situation is done it's done, you can't change it. So I just thought, I'm going to get a drivethrough penalty here, so I’ll put my foot down and try and pull a gap. It's going to be a 20-second penalty or whatever, so I'll just go for it.

“And if not, I'm in the lead of a race, and I've got to try and seal it. Yeah, it was opportunistic. Sometimes that's life, you just got to go for this when the reward is that high.”

Read Also:

But unbeknown to Russell at the time, his Williams team was well on the case and messaged through to F1 race director Michael Masi that it accepted there had been an error and would make amends.

At that moment, Masi had not gone as far as reporting Russell’s pitlane queue jumping to the stewards – so Williams’ quick thinking stopped that from happening.

Masi explained: "George [Russell] realised his error and the team came across immediately and said, 'we've made a mistake, we're going to drop behind Fernando [Alonso]'. It was actually at the team's initiation."

Russell instantly accepted Williams' orders to drop back to behind Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, and Masi was satisfied that there was no need for the incident to be taken further.

For a young driver who has faced some incredible bad luck in his career, he was just thankful that the FIA had not gone hard ball on the pit exit confusion – thereby robbing him of what become his first F1 points for Williams.

Speaking afterwards, Russell said: "I'm really thankful to the FIA for showing a bit of common sense just to say, 'give those positions back'.

"They could have come through and given me a drivethrough. So that was great. I wasn't too sure what to do. But I saw an opportunity and I went for it."

Nicholas Latifi, Williams Racing and George Russell, Williams Racing celebrate with the team

Nicholas Latifi, Williams Racing and George Russell, Williams Racing celebrate with the team

Photo by: Williams

shares
comments

Related video

Williams releases Ticktum from F1 junior programme

Previous article

Williams releases Ticktum from F1 junior programme

Next article

Mercedes baffled by Red Bull's "odd" F1 wing choice

Mercedes baffled by Red Bull's "odd" F1 wing choice
Load comments
The key details that boosted Red Bull and held back Hamilton in Verstappen’s USA victory Plus

The key details that boosted Red Bull and held back Hamilton in Verstappen’s USA victory

As the 2021 Formula 1 title battle winds towards its climax, the United States GP added another thrilling act in the Lewis Hamilton-Max Verstappen battle. Although Hamilton aced the start, Verstappen and Red Bull took the initiative with strategy and were richly rewarded, despite Mercedes' best efforts as the race went down to the wire

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a baking hot afternoon at the returning Circuit of the Americas, Formula 1 drivers were tested to their limits. As the pressure on the title contending squads reaches an ever-greater level of intensity, the foremost challengers again showed their class, but were outshone by a standout drive from the upper midfield

Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement Plus

Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement

Three years on from Kimi Raikkonen's last Grand Prix victory at Austin, he is now six races away from ending the longest Formula 1 career in history. His friend and former Ice1 Racing rally team PR man ANTHONY PEACOCK explains why there’s nobody quite like the 2007 world champion and why F1 will miss him (but he won’t miss it)

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material Plus

Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material

As Red Bull and Honda go all-out for victory in the Japanese engine manufacturer’s last season of its latest Formula 1 dalliance, Max Verstappen finds himself thrust into a compelling title fight with Lewis Hamilton. He told OLEG KARPOV about his evolution into a world championship contender and why Red Bull's no compromise ethos suits him down to the ground

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull Plus

How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be another close contest

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Plus

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed? Plus

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed?

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is determined to make the group a billion-dollar business. MARK GALLAGHER analyses his latest play – bringing former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh into the fold

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021