George Russell ‘shocked’ by FIA after Sergio Perez penalty

George Russell started and finished fourth in the sprint in Austria, while Sergio Perez recovered from P13 to fifth.

George Russell did not have a lot of sympathy for Sergio Perez after the Mexican was penalised after qualifying at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The 32-year-old had crossed the white line on the run that got him into the final part of qualifying, but the stewards did not notice it until Q3 was about to start, so they could not investigate him until after the session.

Eventually, he had every lap time in Q3 and his final run in Q2 deleted, leaving him 13th – where his best lap was good enough for.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner described the penalty as “harsh” due to the fact that the stewards did not let the team know before the end of Q2 that there had been an infringement, but Russell maintains that it was the right decision given that other drivers had already been penalised for exceeding track limits.

READ: 2022 Austrian GP: Stewards reach verdict regarding George Russell penalty

“There’s nothing harsh about it, because at the end of the day he wouldn’t have made it through if the FIA spotted it straight away,” he told Sky Sports.

“I was shocked that he managed to get away with it or it did go under the radar. It’s so difficult on a circuit like this when you’re going through the corners at 160 miles per hour.

“As a driver you can feel the edge of a kerb but not the edge of the white lines, the car is laterally rolling through with the G-force and you can’t really judge where the line is.

“It makes it really tricky to judge when you’re talking about centimetres.”

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Perez’s penalty meant that Russell lined up fourth for the sprint race despite his crash in Q3, and he finished there too following a lonely race, while Perez recovered to fifth.

The three-time race winner could not trouble the 24-year-old for P4, but Russell ended the race a long way behind Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, so he believes his fight will be with Perez on Sunday.

“We didn’t expect to have the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari but we were probably a little bit further behind than we anticipated,” he explained.

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“I think Checo is a realistic battle we can have, but there is only a limited amount you can do overnight. 

“You can’t change the setup, you just have to learn about the tyres and what you did well and what you can improve on.”

Coming up through the ranks in Formula 2 and 3, Russell only ever had one practice session to set his car up for qualifying, but that scenario is more difficult to manage given the complexity of Formula 1 cars.

“It’s so difficult when you’ve only got one practice session, I know that’s what we had when were in Formula 3 and Formula 2.

“But these Formula 1 cars are like spaceships, they are so complex and there are so many things you can change on the cars and, if you are in the right window or you’re not, it makes a huge difference.”

Russell’s team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton also crashed in qualifying before recovering to eighth in the race following contact with Pierre Gasly off the start.