Jenson Button weighed in on the controversial penalty handed to Mercedes driver George Russell following a collision with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Speaking on Sky Sports F1, Button expressed his disagreement with the decision and questioned the fairness of penalizing Russell for the incident.
Button’s sentiments echoed the sentiments of many fans who witnessed the thrilling race, where Max Verstappen’s journey to victory was anything but straightforward. Verstappen, starting from the front row due to a penalty imposed on Carlos Sainz, faced challenges throughout the race, including a penalty for an earlier move, an encounter with George Russell, and navigating two safety car periods before claiming the checkered flag.
The incident between Russell and Verstappen unfolded when the Mercedes driver, caught off guard, made contact with the Red Bull star. Despite the collision, Button argued that the stewards’ decision to penalize Russell with a five-second time penalty was harsh, drawing parallels to other racing incidents, such as the contact between Lewis Hamilton and Oscar Piastri.
“It could have been argued it was a racing incident like the contact between Lewis Hamilton and Oscar Piastri. I don’t think he deserved a five-second penalty personally,” Button commented during the analysis.
The penalty cost Russell three positions after crossing the finish line, altering the final race standings. Despite the setback, Russell showcased impressive skills as he surged through the pack, ultimately finishing in fifth place. Button expressed sympathy for Russell’s situation, acknowledging the challenges both he and Lewis Hamilton faced during the race.
The conversation with Button expanded beyond the specific incident, delving into the ongoing battle between Ferrari and Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship. Looking ahead to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Button anticipated a competitive race, given the circuit’s characteristics with long straights and 90-degree corners.
Reflecting on the Russell-Verstappen incident, Button highlighted the complexity of the situation, acknowledging the difficulty Russell faced in navigating the unexpected move by Verstappen. Button emphasized the unpredictable nature of such racing scenarios, stating, “But Max also was in a position that he felt like he had to go for it, so it’s just one of those things.”
As the focus shifts to the final race in Abu Dhabi, Button’s analysis not only raises questions about the steward’s decision but also sets the stage for continued excitement and unpredictability in the 2023 Formula 1 season. For George Russell, the hope for a more positive campaign in 2024 lingers, as he aims to build on his skills and overcome challenges in pursuit of future podium finishes.