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Over-zealous stewards causing drivers to back off, says Russell

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26/07/2021

George Russell claims that the recent spate of penalties will compromise the racing as drivers opt to back off rather than face the risk of being punished.

The Williams driver talks with experience after being handed a grid penalty for his first lap clash with Sergio Perez at Silverstone in the Sprint.

Though the stewards claim to be taking a 'laid back' approach to first lap incidents, at a time many insist the Verstappen/Hamilton clash was a racing incident, Russell believes the penalty meted out to the Mercedes driver will deter his colleagues from battling too hard for positions in future.

"That's what we were arguing," says Russell of his visit to the Silverstone stewards. "'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," he continued. "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.

"I thought it was a little bit harsh," he said of his own penalty. "It was one of those first lap incidents really, lots going on. You know, I had a little small lock-up, there was nothing malicious.

"I wasn't trying to squeeze him or anything," he insists. "And I think if it was any other corner, he'd have just carried on, potentially even in front of me.

"We're told that the consequences of an action is never taken into consideration," he said of (race director) Michael Masi's comments following the Verstappen clash. "But it felt like in this instance it was.

"I respect the decision," he added. "At the end of the day they're the rule makers, so we've got to stand by their views."

Asked if he feels the stewards are getting stricter, he said: "Well, it's only in the last two events where penalties really ramped up.

"None of us want to see penalties dished out week in, week out," he added. "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."

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1. Posted by kenji, 26/07/2021 13:42

"There's a difference between some wheel banging and some other wheel banging. In the first lap melee it has been a case of the stewards going reasonably light but an incident like the Hamilton/ Verstappen argy bargy went over the limit. It was right for the penalty being given. The stewards have an unenviable job and they do pretty damn well. They should get more support.They know the rules intimately and they have all the evidence from so many sources. I mean how silly was Wolff to do what he did?"

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