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Piastri: "Blatant" Russell illegal F1 US GP sprint overtake never a "50:50"

Oscar Piastri reckons George Russell’s “blatant” off-track overtake was not even a “50:50” incident during Formula 1’s 2023 United States Grand Prix sprint race.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Mercedes racer Russell, who was handed a three-place grid penalty for blocking Charles Leclerc during Saturday qualifying to line up 11th, attempted to pass Piastri for seventh on lap three of 19.

He eventually made the move stick with a superior burst of acceleration out of Turn 18 but ran with all four wheels straying beyond the white lines defining track limits on corner exit.

For this, Russell was handed a five-second penalty and ultimately lost a place at the flag to finish eighth.

Piastri, who finished 10th, said there was no case to argue that it was a 50:50 incident and that Russell was bang to rights. He said: “I wasn't really looking at him because he was behind me.

“I've seen the replay of it and clearly, he just accelerates off the track and goes past so I don't think you can get close to arguing that was a 50:50.

“The five seconds made a bit of a difference to his race but not much. That’s the kind of thing you can do with faster cars, or when you're in a faster car in a situation like that. I don't think it's great for everyone.”

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Russell, meanwhile, lamented a “scrappy day” when he was twice hauled in front of the stewards. He continued: “Both were fair penalties and neither were intentional.

“[The overtake] was always optimistic. He had his right to push me off and I went for it just thinking if he was being kind, I would have got the position.”

Piastri was also on the receiving end of a debatable move from Williams driver Alex Albon, who escaped without further action after the stewards looked into whether he passed off-track.

McLaren team-mate Lando Norris reckoned F1 needed to consider harsher penalties to prevent drivers deliberately moving off-track to gain clear air and pull five seconds ahead to offset any sanction.

Albon said the move on Piastri was “on the edge” and that the “silly” penalties aren’t “big enough”.

Piastri reckoned his dice with Russell had been much clearer cut. He continued: “To me, that was quite blatant.

“I feel swapping the cars back around shouldn't be that difficult in that set of circumstances.

Alex Albon, Williams FW45 battles with Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Alex Albon, Williams FW45 battles with Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

“It's like me and Alex, for example. That's a situation where maybe you would risk it more.

“But if it is only going to be five seconds for that, then especially in a longer race, it is going to be beneficial if you appear quicker than the slower cars.

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“Maybe some people will have it premeditated, but it definitely sets a bit of a precedent for the kind of penalty you will get for doing that.

“If you're a quicker car than whoever you are trying to overtake, it does tempt you.”

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