Jenson Button has taken issue with the five-second penalty picked up by George Russell at the Las Vegas Grand Prix that potentially cost the British driver the chance of a podium finish. Russell was holding off the advance of world champion Max Verstappen mid-way through the race when the Red Bull driver surprisingly tried to overtake his Mercedes counterpart on the inside of the track.
Having not seen Verstappen in his blind spot, Russell turned into the Red Bull with the contact causing damage to the Dutchman’s car, smashing his front wing. It proved not to be too much of an issue for the Red Bull star, who went on to clinch a record 18th win of the season.
The same could not be said for Russell however, who was slapped with a five-second penalty for turning into Verstappen, even though the incident was accidental.
It would have a big impact on the Mercedes driver’s final placing. After finishing on the track in fourth place, his time penalty bumped him back down to eighth position.
Speaking after the race, Russell seemed to accept the penalty in good faith. He said: “The incident with Max was totally my fault. I didn’t see him. Totally in my blind spot going around Turn 11.
“I wasn’t expecting the overtake there. You’ve got the long DRS afterwards. We were on course for an easy podium after. It was pretty straightforward. Recovered to P4, the five seconds knocks us down to P8. This season is one thing after another!”
That view was not one shared by former world champion Button, however, who studied the footage before concluding that his compatriot had been treated harshly by the race stewards.
The Sky Sports F1 pundit said: “That was a really weird incident I think because it’s a corner where you don’t expect someone to come up the inside.
“And for George, I don’t know where he’s going to go. I mean, he could have gone straight on to get out of the way but it’s a really tricky situation that he found himself in there. But Max also was in a position that he felt like he had to go for it, so it’s just one of those things. I don’t think he deserved a five-second penalty, personally.”
Regardless of the penalty, Russell felt that graining on his tyres cost him a better result on the day. He added: “It was just on the wheel cover. If anything, it would have helped my graining because it would have given me extra cooling.
“I think we had a few cuts in that tyre so we did the wise thing and changed that set of tyres. We recovered P4. Even without the penalty I would have been disappointed.
“We should have been on that podium. It would have been a nice way to end the season after such a disastrous one. This tops it off.”