George Russell explained the breakdown in communication regarding a Saudi GP penalty for Fernando Alonso as he battled with team-mate Lewis Hamilton behind the Spaniard.
It was an ideal start for Alonso in Jeddah, as from the front row he got the jump on the pole-sitter, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, into Turn 1 to take the lead.
News soon broke though that Alonso was being investigated by the stewards for a possible start procedure infringement, and footage later showed that Alonso was quite far over to the left in his grid slot.
Alonso later received a five-second time penalty, serving that at his pit stop when team-mate Lance Stroll triggered a Safety Car as he stopped out on the track.
After the restart Red Bull’s Max Verstappen soon stormed past Alonso, meaning the situation was Alonso in P3 with Russell a bit further back in P4 on the hard tyres defending against team-mate Hamilton on the medium rubber.
There was suggestions that Mercedes wanted Russell to yield the position to Hamilton, though he would make his case for why this should not happen since Alonso had a five-second penalty to serve…Russell had not got the memo.
And this miscommunication was most frustrating for Russell in terms of how he saw that stint playing out.
“It was an interesting race, I think obviously after the Safety Car I was on the hards, Lewis was on the medium, so he probably had a bit more pace at the beginning, I knew my pace was coming at the end,” Russell told Sky Sports F1.
“But there was a lot of confusion because I thought Fernando had a five-second penalty, so I didn’t want us both to be fighting between one another and we both lose out to Fernando. I kind of wanted to sort of manage our tyres, stay in striking distance and then was going to have almost a bit of a fair battle towards the end.”
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As it turned out, another time penalty was to come Alonso’s way, a 10-second one applied after he had taken to the podium to celebrate what would have been his 100th such achievement.
This one related to when he served that five-second penalty, the mechanic on the rear jack allegedly having touched the AMR23 before that time had passed.
Russell felt that penalty was “pretty harsh” for Alonso who he said deserved the podium finish.
“To be honest for me to come home in P4, I think the penalty for Fernando is pretty harsh,” said Russell. “They are the deserving podium finishers today, but I’ll take an extra trophy, so I don’t complain too much.”