The Sakhir GP tyre blunder by Mercedes was the biggest disappointment in the race on Sunday, which cost George Russell his first podium finish. However, the repercussions are far from over and the team has now been fined 20,000 Euros for the infringement. In such cases, the driver is also penalised but the stewards ruled that George Russell will get to keep his maiden Formula 1 points. During the Sakhir GP, the tyres belonging to Valtteri Bottas were accidentally fitted on Russell's car, forcing the British driver to pit again, dropping him down in the classification.
Gutted. Absolutely gutted.— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) December 6, 2020
It just wasn't meant to be tonight but I'm proud of the job we did out there. We'll get our opportunity again.
Congrats to @SChecoPerez. Nobody deserves a win more than him.
The front two tyres from Bottas' set of mediums were put on Russell's car as Mercedes double-stacked its cars in the pits after a mix-up due to radio failure. The incident saw a second-placed Russell dropping to fifth, which was followed by a late puncture that ruled him out for a podium finish. Russell eventually secured P9 in the race, but also picked up a bonus point for setting the fastest lap.
The stewards' report read, "Car 63 was fitted with front tyres that were allocated to Car 77. This was caused by a radio communications technical issue wherein the pit wall's communication to the pit crew that Car 63 was entering the pits prior to (and not after) Car 77, failed to be received by the crew of Car 63 because at the same time, the driver of Car 63 transmitted over the top of that message. This resulted in the front tyres of Car 77 accidentally going onto Car 63. (The cars were "double stacked" at the time.) This is clearly a breach of the regulations and would normally involve a sporting penalty up to disqualification."
The report further added, "However, in this case, there are mitigating circumstances, additional to the radio issue referred to above. Firstly, the team rectified the problem within 1 lap. This involved Car 63 making another pit stop, thus dropping it further down the classification. Secondly, Car 77 made a pit stop to change tyres only to find that the front tyres to be fitted to it, were on Car 63, so was sent out after considerable delay, with the tyres that were on Car 77 prior to the pit stop. This also impacted the final classification of Car 77. Thirdly, although this type of infringement is not catered for under the "3 lap tolerance" referred to in the second paragraph of Article 24.4 b) (which currently only refers to the use of tyres of differing specifications), we consider it to be similar in nature. However, the responsibility to fit tyres in compliance with the regulations still rests with any team and thus a penalty is considered as being required."
An incident of such nature has not previously been experienced in F1, the stewards noted in their report. They further recommended amending Article 24.4 b of the FIA regulations to accommodate this type of breach. Meanwhile, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who was involved in a collision with Max Verstappen in the Red Bull during the Sakhir GP, has been handed a three-place penalty for the finale race in Abu Dhabi. Leclerc was involved in a tussle with Sergio Perez, Verstappen and Bottas on the opening lap as they ran up towards Turn 4 on the opening lap. The collision saw Verstappen and Leclerc retire immediately, while Perez went on to claim his career's maiden win.