Williams driver George Russell will start at the back of the grid for the British Grand Prix after being hit with a five-place grid penalty after qualifying.
Russell outperformed his Williams car to qualify 15th for his home race, but his driving in the opening part of the session was subject to an investigation after the chequered flag. The stewards at the British Grand Prix found he had not slowed down for double-waved yellow flags in the opening part of qualifying, which were being displayed to warn drivers that Russell’s teammate Nicholas Latifi was recovering from a spin at Luffield.
Russell claimed he had lifted off the throttle to observe the yellow flag, but because he went on to set the fastest lap under double-waved yellows (which require drivers to abort a flying lap) it became an easy decision for the stewards.
« The driver, Russell, explained to the Stewards that he only saw the double yellow flag signal at Turn 7 in his peripheral vision and believed it was just a single yellow, » the stewards statement read. « He lifted slightly earlier than he had on his previous lap, but his speed was not ‘significantly’ slower than previous laps, although he explained that he was in full control of the car and felt that he would have been able to take avoiding action if needed; and further that he was at a similar speed because he was on a faster lap overall.
« The stewards reviewed the team radio and noted that the team warned him that a yellow was ahead. They did not specify that it was a double yellow flag. Further, they did not advise him that he needed to abort the lap, following the Race Director’s notes in this regard that he should not be able to set a meaningful lap time. This was, in fact, his fastest lap of Q1.
« The purpose of the Race Director’s note is to emphasise the extreme importance of the necessity to follow the flag signals for safety reasons. While the Stewards explored all possible mitigating factors, they ultimately determined that it was the responsibility of the driver to see and follow the double yellow flag signal correctly in a potentially very dangerous situation.
« The team could certainly have helped more in this regard. But ultimately, he could not set a meaningful lap time in this circumstance, and therefore order a five-place grid penalty and three penalty points. »