George Russell will start the British Grand Prix from the back of the grid after being heavily punished for ignoring yellow flags in qualifying.
Nicholas Latifi spun on his final attempt in Q1 to bring out yellow flags at Luffield, with the Canadian having to rejoin the track and leading a number of drivers to abort their laps. Russell was approaching the sector and was warned by his team of yellow flags, but went on to post his fastest time of the session and progress to Q2 for the third race in a row.
Although Russell insisted he had lifted off and was in full control of his car through the yellow flag section, the stewards said the information drivers and teams receive state he should not be trying to improve his time.
“The driver, Russell, explained to the stewards that he only saw the double yellow flag signal at Turn 7 in his peripheral vision and believed it was just a single yellow. He lifted slightly earlier than he had on his previous lap, but his speed was not ‘significantly’ slower than previous laps, although he explained that he was in full control of the car and felt that he would have been able to take avoiding action if needed; and further that he was at a similar speed because he was on a faster lap overall.
“The stewards reviewed the team radio and noted that the team warned him that a yellow was ahead. They did not specify that it was a double yellow flag. Further, they did not advise him that he needed to abort the lap, following the Race Director’s notes in this regard that he should not be able to set a meaningful lap time. This was, in fact, his fastest lap of Q1.
“The purpose of the Race Director’s note is to emphasize the extreme importance of the necessity to follow the flag signals for safety reasons. While the stewards explored all possible mitigating factors, they ultimately determined that it was the responsibility of the driver to see and follow the double yellow flag signal correctly in a potentially very dangerous situation. The team could certainly have helped more in this regard. But ultimately, he could not set a meaningful lap time in this circumstance.”
Recent yellow flag infringements in qualifying have resulted in three-place grid penalties, but the stewards opted for a harsher drop given the fact the team did not follow the relevant guidance, leaving Russell 20th on the grid alongside teammate Latifi.