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Formula 1 United States GP

Russell handed three-place F1 grid penalty for US GP sprint

Mercedes Formula 1 driver George Russell has been handed a grid penalty for the 2023 United States Grand Prix sprint race for blocking Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

In the opening part of the qualifying shootout to determine the grid for the Saturday sprint contest, Russell stayed on the racing line through the penultimate Turn 19 left-hander to force a fast-approaching Leclerc to move to the inside.

Upon reviewing the incident with the addition of team radio and in-car video, the FIA stewards have determined that Mercedes failed to warn Russell in good time of the faster car behind. Subsequently, Leclerc was unnecessarily impeded.

But will the driver still partially to blame, Russell will serve a three-place grid drop for the Saturday afternoon sprint race at the Circuit of The Americas. That drops him from eighth place to 11th to promote Alex Albon, Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo.

The stewards noted: “[Russell] entered the last two corners preparing for his flying lap at the end of SQ1 with [Leclerc] closing in quickly.

“Whilst the team did inform the driver about the closing car a few seconds in advance, there was no further information directly before [Russell] entered Turn 19 with [Leclerc] right behind.

“[Russell] did not move from the racing line in or after Turn 19 and therefore unnecessarily impeded [Leclerc]

“The Stewards note that irrespective of any information coming from the team, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that no other cars are unnecessarily impeded.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Russell told Sky Sports F1: "It was definitely a scrappy session, we had a problem with the radio, so all of the engineers were talking in the background, and I was hearing it on my fast laps, and it sounded like they were talking to me so that was pretty distracting.”

Leclerc, meanwhile, will line up behind Red Bull three-time world champion Max Verstappen on the front row of the grid, the Monegasque having missed out on top spot by 0.055s.

Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton had a near miss of his own through the same part of the track. He feared a damaged from wing after clipped the back of a slow Yuki Tsunoda.

But after an investigation, the stewards took no further action.

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