George Russell reckoned the F1 Austrian GP penalty was harsh on him as he explains his side, while Sergio Perez does so his.

Perez has been a revelation at Red Bull so far this season. Remarkably consistent, a touch unlucky on occasion but he has been tremendous back up for Max Verstappen and also took a fine win at Monaco. So much so, he has signed for two more seasons and is an outside championship challenger.

For Russell, it has been slightly different. Joining Mercedes for 2022, he has not always been a front runner but prior to last weekend, he finished in the top five in the opening nine Grands Prix, including podiums and is ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the Driver standings.

But last Sunday saw the two drivers come together on the opening lap in Austrian.  As a result, Russell received a 5 second penalty for the incident which dropped him to 17th. It was a stirring fightback which saw him take fourth place in the race, just behind Hamilton so once more his consistency was to the fore but for that incident.

“I feel like it’s a missed opportunity,” said Russell. “Obviously frustrating to have a sort of first-lap incident like that. I thought the penalty was harsh; I braked as hard as I could and I was steering as much as I could – I had Carlos ahead of me and Checo was on the clean line down the outside, and I knew as soon as he turned in we were going to make contact,” summed up Russell.

First lap incidents are commonplace in any form of motorsport and last Sunday was no exception but both were racing hard and fair, both looking for the best for them and their team. Russell gave a fairly in-depth analysis of the incident.

“So I was already on the limit of my car and the angle he was coming in, I couldn’t do more,” started Russell. “To the letter of the law, I was in the wrong, because if the attacking driver on the outside is ahead, the guy on the inside needs to leave space – but as I said, from the second I braked, there’s nothing more I could’ve done because I was already on the limit of my car. So that was harsh.”

Russell can well feel aggrieved but worse still was the penalty, damage and the time he lost. If we take the accident out of the equation, he could well have been ahead of Hamilton on the road and on the podium. “[The contact with Perez], that’s one thing, and then the damage also cost me probably 10 seconds at the start, of race time; it cost me another 15 seconds at the pit stop and put me in P17”.

“I think this is the first weekend of the season that our quali pace has been quicker than our race pace, and that’s sort of caught us by surprise a little bit. After qualifying we thought: ‘Yes, we’re in the mix here’. But that didn’t carry through into the race”.

“So, we need to understand that; it’s obviously been a challenging weekend for us, the team. For the damage we incurred on Friday, the team did an amazing job to get both cars back out, but I’m sure the cars probably weren’t at their 100% potential given the circumstances,” summed up Russell.

The other half of the Russell incident on lap one was not as lucky as the Mercedes driver in the end. A subsequent pit stop and he pretty much lagged behind the field for much of the day until he became the first race retirement.

“There was nothing I would have done differently other than going straight into the gravel to make sure he has a free road,” said Perez. “I gave him enough room, he had enough room to do the move and it was up to him really to control the car and I was just clearly ahead. I don’t know what else to tell you, I was clearly ahead and I had the position and it was down to him to really avoid the contact.

“It is very frustrating, it is lap one of the race and was important to go without any incidents out there,” summed up Perez. It was difficult weekend for him and Red Bull who suffered graining issues but nevertheless they had some serious pace also but lap one incidents are those which irritate drivers the most.

Here’s Lewis Hamilton on being grateful after crash

Here’s Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff on fan behaviour

Here’s the crash between George Russell and Sergio Perez: