George Russell ‘shocked’ over FIA decision to penalise Red Bull at Austrian Grand Prix

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George Russell has admitted that he was surprised when Red Bull driver Sergio Perez was not immediately punished by the FIA for exceeding track limits in Friday’s qualifying session at the Austrian Grand Prix. Perez reached Q3 and initially managed to qualify in fourth place for Saturday’s sprint, which was won by Max Verstappen ahead of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

The Mexican driver was eventually dropped back to 13th position, though, after he was deemed to have ventured outside the white line at Turn Eight before his final Q2 run, which was ultimately quick enough to get him into Q3. Russell went on to admit that he was surprised it took so long for the FIA to notice Perez’s infringement when quizzed on the decision to penalise the 32-year-old after Saturday’s on-track action.

“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,” Russell told Sky Sports F1.

“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.

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“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 us really tricky to judge when you’re talking about centimetres.”

Perez went on to make up plenty of positions over the course of Saturday’s sprint to secure a fifth-placed finish at the end of the 24-lap contest. He will start the race on Sunday just one place behind Russell, who managed to avoid slipping down the order but was also unable to climb up the grid in spite of his best efforts.

“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,” added the Mercedes man.

“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.

“It’s so difficult when you’ve only got one practice session. These cars are like spaceships, they are so complex and there are so many things you can change on the cars. If you are in the right window or not, it makes a huge difference.”


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