Russell: There are so many penalties being dished out

George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing. British Grand Prix, Saturday 17th July 2021. Silverstone, England.

George Russell feels that too many penalties are being dished out in Formula 1 this season for marginal or first lap incidents.

Russell picked up a three-place grid penalty for a first lap clash with Carlos Sainz in Sprint Qualifying, a decision which he described as “harsh” at the time.

Asked about the tendency for penalties to be handed out following opening lap collisions, the Williams driver said it was not “good for the fans”.

“That’s what we were arguing,” Russell told Motorsport.com. “Rubbin’s racing, as they say, I think it’s always good for the fans and even for the drivers to have close, hard racing.

“So I think when there’s so many penalties being dished out, it does change the views of the drivers slightly, how you approach it, and nobody wants to sit there and everybody be cautious, because it won’t be entertaining for anyone.”

Michael Masi has said that the consequences of a crash should not influence the level of the penalty awarded, but Russell feels that mantra was not stuck to in this instance.

“I wasn’t trying to squeeze him or anything,” he added.

“And I think if it was any other corner, he’d have just carried on, potentially even in front of me. So we’re told that the consequences of an action is never taken into consideration. But it felt like in this instance it was.

“But I respect the decision. At the end of the day they’re the rule makers, so we’ve got to stand by their views.”

Asked if he felt that the number of harsh penalties had increased this season, Russell replied: “Well, it’s only in the last two events where penalties really ramped off. None of us want to see penalties dished out week in, week out.

“So yeah, we need to understand their views on this. It’s always fine margins between whether it’s a penalty or not. And maybe it’s just a coincidence these last two races that there’s been more than normal.”