Russell’s frantic radio call a distressing warning for the FIA


Footage made available to social media from George Russell’s onboard during his penultimate lap crash at the Australian Grand Prix revealed a harrowing team radio call.

The panic in his voice as he called for a red flag whilst he was stranded, car on its side in the middle of the racing line was enough to drive home the perils of motorsport – danger is always present.

Yet despite the pleas, FIA race control opted to allow the end of the race to run under Virtual Safety Car conditions, a decision that quite frankly felt callous given severe incidents in the not-too-distant past.

A car strewn across the track is one of the most dangerous situations in single-seater racing.

Two young drivers – Anthoine Hubert and Dilano van ‘t Hoff – have lost their lives through side-on collisions since 2019 despite the continued research and advancements in safety in modern-day racing, work for which the FIA must rightly be given an incredible amount of praise.

Russell was arguably in a more dangerous spot given the exposed underbody of the W15 was facing the oncoming traffic, rendering any collision extremely serious.

Race winner Carlos Sainz had already crossed the start-finish line to begin his final lap, so whether a red flag, full safety car or VSC was deployed made zero sporting difference in this case.

It meant there was no need to restart the race, and there would be no free pit stops for others to gain advantages. Safety should have been the primary concern.

The audio of Grand Prix Drivers’ Association director Russell’s team radio in the immediate aftermath makes for hard listening. There is a tinge of disbelief hidden amid the anxiety as he calls repeatedly for a race stoppage – one that never came.

As it turned out, and there but for the grace of God, Russell escaped unscathed and all drivers respected the yellow flags at the scene of the incident.

But it only takes one misstep for disaster in F1 and the sport should count itself lucky nothing more serious happened at Albert Park.

Many fans will also point to the red flags thrown for a similarly positioned Williams of Alex Albon a year previously, albeit the Thai-Briton was not on his side. Where is the consistency in the decision-making?

There will no doubt be conversations about the issue in the next drivers’ briefing at the Japanese Grand Prix so that assurances can be made for future instances.

Processes must be reviewed because this was undoubtedly an error of judgement.




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