Stroll’s “questionable” driving led to surprise pit entry pass

George Russell questioned whether Lance Stroll’s driving was within the rules after overtaking his rival on the way into the pits during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver passed his rival on the way into the pit lane when the pair came in for their first tyre changes together during the Safety Car period.

Stroll was running close behind his team mate Fernando Alonso before they came in and Aston Martin advised him to drop back so both drivers could complete their pit stops without being delayed. However Russell was able to move alongside him as they came into the pits and take the position.

“I managed to overtake him on the way into the pit lane,” said Russell. “I think it’s against the rules to do what he did.

“It was obviously a bit questionable but it was quite satisfying to get ahead and a good pit stop by the guys.”

However Russell squandered his advantage soon after the restart. “I’m a little bit disappointed with myself,” he admitted.

“I made a really good start, got in a good position, good around the pit stop to get ahead of Stroll. And then I just made a mess of the restart.

“I defended from Lance, almost went into the back of Fernando, ran wide, got my tyres dirty and ultimately, that’s the reason why Lance and Lewis [Hamilton] got by.

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“From then on in, it was line astern. I don’t know what it was like behind, but from my side it seemed like there was no overtaking.”

Russell was able to claim an extra point by setting the fastest lap of the race after pitting for soft tyres at the end of the race. “I’ll take the extra point, but the only reason we had that opportunity is because we were in a bad position,” he said. “So, whether we finish P4 or whether we finish P8 as we did, it’s far from P1 and P2, so we have a lot of work to do.”

Lance Stroll’s radio messages from his pit stop

After the Safety Car was deployed, Stroll’s race engineer Ben Michell told him he would be pitting at the same time as Alonso and therefore needed to drop back:

Michell So, Lance, how is the balance? Balance check.
Stroll Definitely rears…
Michell Copy, copy that.
Stroll Progressively.
Michell Copy. So Lance both… Safety Car, Safety Car. Run switch cool, delta positive.
Michell We need to make a gap, Lance, we need to make a gap.
Stroll Okay, tell me where. How much on my delta.
Michell We’re stacking we’re stacking.
Stroll Just tell me how much you need.
Michell Okay Lance we’re stacking. Fernando is one second in front of you, we’re stacking.
Michell Okay remember your limiter, Lance. Run switch start, run switch start. Box box.

Russell warned his team “Stroll is backing me up, I reckon,” behind the Safety Car. “Stroll is going very slow,” he added as they approached the pit lane entrance.

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As they came into the pits Russell passed Stroll on the left-hand side of the Aston Martin, and he kept the position after Mercedes changed his tyres. “Nice one, nice one,” he said, while Stroll complained to his team about his rival’s move:

Michell We’re racing. Russell. Race, race, race. Run switch race. Race, racing Russell.
Michell Okay exit pit lane, Ocon two behind, Ocon two behind hard, Russell 1.9 in front.
Michell Safety Car.
Stroll Russell crossed the pit lane on the left coming in. It’s in the slow lane.
Michell We’re not allowed to make a gap on the track, Lance. We’re not allowed to make a gap on the track.
Stroll I didn’t.
Michell Head down. Exactly, so head down, head down. Run switch cool. Run switch cool

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2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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