Formula One | Mercedes fined for pitstop bungle

Mercedes mistakenly put tyres reserved for teammate Valtteri Bottas onto Russell’s car after both pitted when the safety car was deployed.

Formula One champion Mercedes was fined €20,000 on Sunday after it fitted the wrong front tyres to George Russell’s leading car at a bungled Sakhir Grand Prix pitstop.

The mistake meant stand-in Russell, replacing Lewis Hamilton after the seven-time World champion tested positive for COVID-19 in Bahrain, lost position and risked a post-race disqualification.

Mercedes mistakenly put tyres reserved for teammate Valtteri Bottas onto Russell’s car after both pitted when the safety car was deployed, forcing the Briton to make another stop that dropped him to fifth.

Russell eventually finished ninth after a late slow puncture dealt another blow just as he had moved back up to second and was reeling in Racing Points’s Mexican winner Sergio Perez.

Mercedes was summoned by stewards post-race for the infringement. The team explained that a radio communications technical issue was to blame, with the pit wall’s message to the pit crew going unheard because Russell had transmitted over it.

The stewards found mitigating circumstances, with Mercedes rectifying the problem within one lap and losing further time. Russell was allowed to keep the points.

Stewards noted that such a breach had not previously happened in Formula One.

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