George Russell slams ‘harsh’ penalty

George Russell, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon were all penalised for impeding at the 2023 Brazil GP.

George Russell believes his two-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix is a “bit harsh”, after he was found guilty of impeding another driver at the pit-exit.

It’s a new rule which has been introduced this weekend to stop traffic jams being created in the pit-lane, by drivers opting to stop at the end to create a gap.

Stopping at the pit-exit is still allowed; however, the stewards have instructed drivers to pull to the left-hand side if they wish to do so.

Following an investigation after qualifying on Friday, the stewards came the decision that Russell didn’t follow the rules, demoting him from sixth to eighth on the grid.

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Russell wasn’t the only driver to be penalised with impeding, as both Alpine drivers were also slapped with grid penalties.

Interestingly, Russell revealed after being informed about his penalty that one of the stewards told him that it was an “unfortunate” incident.

“It was a bit frustrating when the stewards said to me that I was basically unfortunate that Pierre accelerated and came up right behind me and that I did nothing different to any of the other drivers who stayed sort of middle of the track,” Russell said, as reported by

The King’s Lynn-born driver went onto explain that he didn’t move to the left-hand side of the pit-exit as it was littered with “screws and bolts”, with the track’s condition having been a real issue ahead of qualifying.

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Qualifying was actually delayed by 15 minutes so the circuit could be swept, although they appear to have missed the pit-lane.

“It’s difficult with all of the screws and bolts around the track,” Russell said. “I didn’t really want to be right on the left-hand side.”

Being slapped with the grid penalty ultimately came as a bit of a shock to Russell, who was expecting the stewards to show some leniency as it’s a new rule.

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The Mercedes driver believes the stewards should’ve perhaps been less harsh, as it’s the “very first time” the rule was used.

“I was just quite surprised how black-and-white they took it,” Russell admitted. “We’re adding a lot of new rules and every time we have a new rule, it always has an unforeseen consequence.

“I appreciate why they’re doing it, but I definitely felt it was a bit harsh considering it’s the very first time that rule was implemented. But we’ve just got to suck it up and move on.”