Mercedes hit with fine for Sakhir tyre blunder - Russell keeps points


Mercedes has been fined by the FIA Stewards for its tyre infringement in Sunday's Sakhir GP, a punishment that fortunately leaves George Russel's P9 finish intact.

Following a radio communications break down in the Mercedes camp just before the team double stacked its drivers in a pit stop conducted during a safety car period, the Brackley squad's crews inadvertently fitted on to George Russell's car two front tyres that were from Valtteri Bottas' allocation.

The blunder forced Russell to return to the pits a lap later to allow Mercedes to fit the designated tyres on to the Briton's W11, but the extra stop pushed Russel down to fifth from where he partially recovered only to undertake a fourth pit stop due to a slow puncture, a setback that crushed his chances of a sensational maiden win in F1.

Russell eventually finished P9 found himself at risk of being disqualified because of his team's tyre infringement.

Ultimately, the stewards recognized mitigating circumstances and Mercedes' swift reaction to the mistake, allowing Russell to retain his points but handing a €20,000 fine to the team.

"Car 63 was fitted with front tyres that were allocated to Car 77," stated the stewards' report.

"This was caused by a radio communications technical issue wherein the pit wall's communication to the pit crew that Car 63 was entering the pits prior to (and not after) Car 77, failed to be received by the crew of Car 63 because at the same time, the driver of Car 63 transmitted over the top of that message.

"This resulted in the front tyres of Car 77 accidentally going onto Car 63. (The cars were "double stacked" at the time.) This is clearly a breach of the regulations and would normally involve a sporting penalty up to Disqualification.

"However, in this case there are mitigating circumstances, additional to the radio issue referred to above.

"Firstly, the team rectified the problem within 1 lap. This involved Car 63 making another pit stop, thus dropping it further down the classification.

"Secondly, Car 77 made a pit stop to change tyres only to find that the front tyres to be fitted to it, were on Car 63, so was sent out after considerable delay, with the tyres that were on Car 77 prior to the pit stop. This also impacted the final classification of Car 77.

"Thirdly, although this type of infringement is not catered for under the "3 lap tolerance" referred to in the second paragraph of Article 24.4 b) (which currently only refers to the use of tyres of differing specifications), we consider it to be similar in nature.

"However, the responsibility to fit tyres in compliance with the regulations, still rests with
any team and thus a penalty is considered as being required.

"It is recommended that the FIA consider amending Article 24.4 b) to accommodate this type of breach when it is rectified without delay.

"It is noted that this type of breach has not previously been experienced in Formula 1."

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