George Russell addresses Lewis Hamilton incident

George Russell was briefly promoted to third in Saudi Arabia, following confusion over whether Fernando Alonso had served a five-second time penalty correctly.

George Russell enjoyed an excellent Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday, as the Mercedes driver successfully converted a third place start into a fourth place finish.

The British driver demonstrated consistent pace throughout the race but was unable to challenge for a podium, due to Red Bull and Aston Martin having been too strong.

Despite having not had the pace for a podium, Russell was promoted to fourth for all of four hours, after Fernando Alonso was awarded a 10-second time penalty after the race.

The penalty was later revoked which saw Alonso reinstated onto the podium, dropping Russell back to fourth.

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The former Williams driver, though, delivered his post-race interviews whilst technically in P3, with the Briton having admitted that Alonso’s penalty was “pretty harsh”.

“I’m pleased to come home in P4, but I think the penalty for Fernando was pretty harsh,” Russell said in the media pen.

“They are deserving podium finishers today. But I’ll take an extra trophy, so I’m not complaining too much.”

Alonso was awarded with a 10-second penalty momentarily, after it was initially deemed that he hadn’t correctly served an earlier five-second time penalty, for starting outside of his grid slot.

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As a result, Russell wanted to remain behind Alonso during the race so that he could manage the gap to the Spaniard, to ensure that he gets promoted to third.

This caused some confusion, though, as Lewis Hamilton was right behind Russell on softer tyres.

Russell informed his team that he was looking after his tyres to keep him within a reasonable distance to Alonso; however, Russell was then told that the Spaniard had already served his penalty.

When this happened, many expected Mercedes to switch Russell and Hamilton, so that the latter could make the most of his softer rubber.

Interestingly, it was confirmed by Sky Sports F1 that Mercedes didn’t tell Russell to let Hamilton past, following claims that Russell disobeyed team orders.

Russell explained the situation with Alonso and Hamilton after the race, where he revealed that he “didn’t want” to fight his experienced team-mate, in fear that they’d lose out on a podium.

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“It was an interesting race. After the Safety Car, I was on the hards, Lewis was on the mediums. So he probably had a bit more pace in the beginning, I knew my pace was coming at the end. But there was a lot of confusion because I thought Fernando had a five-second penalty,” Russell told Sky Sports F1.

“So I didn’t want [Lewis and I] to be fighting among each other, and we both lose out to Fernando.

“I wanted to stay within distance, manage our tyres, then have a fair battle towards the end. I’m pleased with P4, the penalty to Fernando is pretty harsh. They are the deserving podium finishers. But I’m not complaining too much.”