Jenson Button thought the stewards at the Las Vegas Grand Prix handled George Russell unfairly.
Midway through the race, the British driver received a penalty for a collision with Max Verstappen. Russell made a blatant mistake by turning into the other vehicle when the Red Bull driver tried to pass him on the inside. Both cars sustained moderate damage during the collision, while Verstappen’s front wing was partially torn off.
Despite this setback, the Dutchman continued to put in a strong effort and won the race, making it his 18th victory of the year. The stewards, however, were not impressed with Russell’s behaviour. For triggering the collision, he received a five-second time penalty, which ultimately cost him dearly as it dropped him four positions to eighth in the race standings.
Russell took full responsibility for his error and accepted the punishment, modelling for his classmates. “I am solely to blame for the event with Max. I failed to see him. Turn 11 was completely in my blind spot,” the British driver said following the event.
The overtake there caught me off guard. Afterwards, you have the lengthy DRS. We were headed for an easy podium after that. It wasn’t too complicated. After recovering to P4, the extra five seconds push us down to P8. There’s nothing like this season before it!”
But former racer Button disagrees with that evaluation. The Sky Sports F1 analyst concluded that the Mercedes driver was a victim of unfair treatment after seeing the video. “That was a really weird incident I think because it’s a corner where you don’t expect someone to come up the inside,” he stated.
“As for George, I have no idea where he will go. He might have just moved aside to avoid the scenario, but he ended up in an extremely precarious position. It’s just one of those things, though, because Max was also in a situation where he felt compelled to go for it. Personally, I don’t think he should have been given a five-second penalty.”
With the penalty and the graining on his tyres impeding him, Russell believed a much better outcome had escaped him. “It was just on the wheel cover,” he stated. It would have given me more cooling, which would have helped with my graining.
“I believe there were some cuts in that tyre, therefore we changed those tyres sensibly. P4 was retrieved. I would have been disappointed even if there had been no penalty. It was our place to be on the podium. After such a dismal season, it would have been a pleasant way to close things out. This completes it.”