Formula 1 champions Mercedes were fined 20,000 euros on Sunday after they fitted the wrong tyres to George Russell’s leading car at a bungled Sakhir Grand Prix pitstop.
Russell, standing in for Lewis Hamilton who tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the event, was dominating the race at Sakhir’s unique Outer Loop layout. However, when Mercedes called both Russell and teammate Valtteri Bottas into the pits when the Safety Car was called out two-thirds into the race, there was a mix-up and they accidentally fitted Bottas’ front tyres to Russell’s car.
“This is clearly a breach of the regulations and would normally involve a sporting penalty up to disqualification,” said the stewards in their ruling.
However, rather than penalising the driver, the FIA, the governing body of the sports, opted to fine the team because they say “in this case there are mitigating circumstances, additional to the radio issue referred to above”.
It means Russell keeps his first points – the two he scored for ninth, plus the one for fastest lap – moving him into 18th in the drivers’ championship. His impressive showing at the front in Bahrain means he has now led more laps in 2020 than anybody other than Lewis Hamilton or Bottas.