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 final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Plus

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Autosport's technical consultant

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Plus

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding 
into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? STUART CODLING talks to the man in charge

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Plus

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Plus

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers Plus

Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for shock Turkish GP glory Plus

The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for shock Turkish GP glory

Starting 11th after his engine change grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton faced a tough task to repeat his Turkish Grand Prix heroics of 2020 - despite making strong early progress in the wet. Instead, his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas broke through for a first win of the year to mitigate Max Verstappen re-taking the points lead

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form Plus

How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form

A Formula 1 pitstop is a rapid-fire blend of high technology and human performance. PAT SYMONDS describes how the science of margin gains makes stops so quick

Formula 1
Oct 10, 2021