In a dramatic turn of events during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix, George Russell and his Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton, found themselves entangled on the start/finish straight.
The incident prompted a formal warning from the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) for both drivers and their team, Mercedes.
During the final part of Q2, both Mercedes drivers were seen accelerating down the pit straight, with Hamilton benefiting from the slipstream provided by Russell.
However, as Lewis Hamilton moved alongside his teammate, Russell seemingly changed his line, resulting in contact between the two cars. A fragment of Hamilton's front wing was sent flying, causing him to slow down and temporarily take to the grass.
Expressing his dissatisfaction over the team radio, Hamilton criticized Russell's actions, stating that he had dangerously backed off, potentially causing damage to his car:
"George just backed off. That’s really dangerous. I might have some damage on the car.”
Russell, on the other hand, responded by claiming that he had not been informed of Lewis Hamilton's presence behind him, expressing confusion about the entire session:
"It was all going on, massive bouncing [at] high speed, couldn’t get the tyres working.”
Stewards warn Mercedes for not informing George Russell of Lewis Hamilton's approach
Following the incident, the race stewards summoned both drivers to investigate the matter further. Ultimately, Russell was not given a grid penalty, but he and Mercedes were issued a formal warning.
The stewards acknowledged that Russell had not checked his mirrors as he was starting his fast lap and had not been informed of Lewis Hamilton's approach by the team.
"The driver of Car 63 [Russell] stated that as he was just starting his fast lap he was looking forward and had not checked his mirrors. His team did not inform him of the approach of Car 44 [Hamilton]. However in mitigation, he was reacting to the car in front of him (Car 55, Sainz) which had just finished its fast lap."
As a consequence of the incident, Russell failed to progress beyond Q2 and could only manage the 12th fastest time in qualifying. Meanwhile, Hamilton, despite an encouraging start to the qualifying, fell short of a front-row start, dropping down to P4 as the seven-time world champion secured the fifth spot on the grid for the F1 Spanish Grand Prix.