Mercedes fined €20,000 after tyre mix-up

07 December 2020 - 08:41 By Reuters
George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W11 makes a pitstop during the F1 Grand Prix of Sakhir at Bahrain International Circuit on December 06 2020.
George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W11 makes a pitstop during the F1 Grand Prix of Sakhir at Bahrain International Circuit on December 06 2020.
Image: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Formula One champions Mercedes were fined 20,000 (roughly R369,150) on Sunday after they fitted the wrong front tyres to George Russell's leading car at a bungled Sakhir Grand Prix pitstop.

The mistake meant stand-in Russell, replacing Lewis Hamilton after the seven times world champion tested positive for Covid-19 in Bahrain, lost position and risked a post-race disqualification.

Mercedes mistakenly put tyres reserved for team mate Valtteri Bottas onto Russell's car after both pitted when the safety car was deployed, forcing the Briton to make another stop that dropped him to fifth.

Russell eventually finished ninth after a late slow puncture dealt another blow just as he had moved back up to second and was reeling in Racing Points's Mexican winner Sergio Perez.

Mercedes were summoned by stewards after the race for the infringement.

The team said a radio communications technical issue was to blame, with the pit wall's message to the pit crew unheard because Russell had transmitted over it.

"We knew immediately when Valtteri didn't have his tyres, we knew Valtteri's tyres were on George's car," said team boss Toto Wolff.

The stewards found mitigating circumstances, with Mercedes rectifying the problem within one lap and losing further time. Russell was allowed to keep the points.

Bottas's pitstop took 27 seconds as a result of the mix-up, with mechanics taking off his car's tyres and  putting the same ones on again once they realised what had happened, compromising the Finn's race

Stewards said such a breach had not previously happened in Formula One.


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