George Russell has been given a three-place grid penalty for hitting Carlos Sainz on the opening lap of Formula 1’s sprint qualifying race at the British Grand Prix.
On the opening lap of the 17-lap race at Silverstone on Saturday, Sainz attacked Russell on the outside heading towards Brooklands.
He left space for the Williams driver but Russell locked up and understeered wide, collecting the Ferrari as Sainz tried to sweep past on the outside.
The stewards determined Russell was at fault for the incident and said while it would normally result in a time penalty, the scale is based on normal grand prix distances.
Because of the shorter length of the sprint races, and the fact they are used to establish the grid for the race, the stewards felt the three-place drop was “more appropriate”.
Russell had finished the race ninth so will now start his home race 12th, outside of the points positions.
Had the stewards imposed the normal five-second penalty, Russell would have dropped to 13th in the sprint classification and would therefore have started the race one place further back.
Russell had said he was “not at all” worried about getting a penalty because he felt it was a “racing incident”, with Sainz closing the door and Russell being left with “nothing more I could’ve done”.
But the grid penalty means Russell will start behind Sainz for Sunday’s grand prix – which is what Sainz had said would be a fair outcome.
“Unfortunately George’s mistake cost me quite a lot,” he said.
“It’s pretty obvious that sometimes who are on the inside at Turn 6 tend to have moments, lock up or lose the car.
“I tried to give him as much space as I could, even at one point I opened the steering wheel just to let him go, but even like that he couldn’t control the car and bumped into me.
“Pretty obvious mistake by him, it can happen to any of us, but the fact he finished in front, still I don’t think it’s the best.”
Sainz had three separate stewards’ summons after the sprint race, but did not receive any significant penalties.
One of the hearings was over the contact with Russell, and another was over how Sainz rejoined the track at Luffield following that incident.
The stewards acknowledged that Pierre Gasly had to take “evasive action and narrowly avoided colliding” with the Ferrari after it “crossed the grass at speed and eventually regained the track in Turn 7 as a group of cars went through the turn”.
But they accepted Sainz’s explanation that he had tried to minimise the danger involved in how he rejoined.
“The driver of car 55 described the actions he took to reduce the speed of the car in order to safely rejoin and mitigate what was a potentially dangerous situation,” said their report.
“The stewards examined the video and the telemetry data and found no conclusive evidence that the driver of car 55 did not take sufficient action to avoid the situation.”
But while there was no action taken there, Sainz, Sebastian Vettel and Nikita Mazepin have all received warnings for their practice starts at the end of FP2.
The stewards said they did not conduct the starts as specified in race director Michael Masi’s instructions.
“The intent of the notes was discussed with the driver and team representative in the context of the sprint qualifying format,” the stewards’ report read.
“The stewards assess a warning, but note that future such infringements will likely result in a more severe penalty.”