George Russell has hit out at officials at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza after a recovery truck was seen to enter the confines of the track to recover the stranded crashed car of Sergio Pérez whilst drivers were still making their way back to the pit lane.
The Williams Racing driver was one of those to pass the stricken Racing Point F1 Team car on the exit of the Ascari chicane and drove passed the recovery truck as it headed to the accident. However, Russell has criticised this move, feeling it would have been better in the circumstances to wait until the track was empty of cars before allowing the truck onto the circuit.
Safety in motor sport has already come under the spotlight this week in light of Anthoine Hubert’s fatal accident last weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, and Russell highlights that even though drivers were heading back to the pits under reduced speed, Lewis Hamilton crashed under virtual safety car conditions at the Hockenheimring, so another incident could easily have occurred at Monza.
“In light of recent events, you would have thought something stupid like that wouldn’t happen,” Russell is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “Regardless of whether we’re under red flag or VSC [virtual safety car], it can happen at any point.
“Lewis [Hamilton] crashed under VSC in Germany. So, there’s no need to take the unnecessary risk of bringing a recovery vehicle onto the track. The truck was exactly where Perez crashed.”
Looking at his own performance on Friday, Russell felt Williams made the most of a tricky day that saw track time affected by the weather, with rain hitting both the morning and afternoon sessions. The 2018 FIA Formula 2 champion finished eighteenth fastest in the morning session and twentieth and last in the afternoon.
“Today was quite inconvenient with the weather but every lap on track you learn something,” said Russell. “FP1 was quite a constructive session for us as we did some back-to-back comparisons with a low downforce wing versus our standard one.
“FP2 was quite positive with the long run; I wasn’t very pleased with myself in the low fuel run but overall, I think we made the most of a tricky day.”
Team-mate Robert Kubica finished ahead of Russell in both sessions, ending six-tenths of a second ahead in the morning before closing the day a similar distance ahead in the afternoon. The Pole felt positive about the feeling of his car, saying it was the best it had felt all season long, which he feels has given him confidence for the rest of the weekend.
“Today the weather was the big player and so we did some running in wet and dry conditions,” said Kubica. “The pace is as expected, Monza is a very high-speed track and we are not the kings there.
“The car felt the best it has done all year, which is surprising as it is a circuit you normally struggle to get right straight away. However, the Italian fans create a good atmosphere and its nice to be back racing in Monza.”