George Russell believes he should have been allowed to restart the British Grand Prix following the red flag period after he left his car to check on Guanyu Zhou.
Zhou had a massive accident at Turn 1 after being hit by Russell – who himself had been tagged by Pierre Gasly – that resulted in the Alfa Romeo coming to rest upside down on the wrong side of the tire barrier. Russell jumped out of his car to run over to Zhou’s aid, but when he returned to his Mercedes and couldn’t restart it he says it was then touched by the marshals when he’d asked for it not to be.
“I saw the race was a red flag so I knew it was safe to jump out,” Russell said. “I wanted to go and see if he was OK and if I could have helped in anyway. When I came back I couldn’t get the car turned on, but there was no reason why I shouldn’t have been able to because the car was fine.
“I ran back to the team to check, and when I came back the car was on the flatbed already. I asked a marshal to make sure that they didn’t pick the car up and it turns out there was nothing wrong with the car bar a puncture, so it’s really frustrating because we had the pace definitely to come back to P6 as a minimum. So many emotions.”
In Formula 1, drivers are not permitted to continue in a race if they receive any outside mechanical assistance when on track, which forced Russell’s retirement.
The start incident was triggered by Russell getting a slow getaway off the line on hard tires that were particularly difficult to warm up for a grid start, and as cars looked for a way past the Mercedes, Gasly went for a gap that closed, prompting the Frenchman back out but just touch Russell’s left rear in the process.
“It’s horrible to see an incident like that,” said Russell. “We took a gamble starting on the hard, ultimately because I didn’t do a good enough job in qualifying and we were starting out of position, we felt like that was our best opportunity to fight for a podium. And it was, but we knew it would’ve been very difficult on lap one and it turned out to be extremely difficult.
“I couldn’t get any temperature in the tires on the formation lap and I got swamped by all the cars. The next thing I know I got touched from behind, in the side of Zhou, and we saw the rest.”
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