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George Russell says his crash at the Australian Grand Prix was ‘waiting for a disaster to happen’

SUZUKA, Japan (AP) — Mercedes driver George Russell spoke out Thursday for the first time since his dramatic crash with Fernando Alonso in the Australian Grand Prix last month and said race officials need to respond more quickly to such incidents to avoid a catastrophe.

Alonso was given a 20-second penalty for what stewards called his “unusual maneuver” with Russell behind him. That description of his move could entail braking and driving slowly, which could impede other drivers.

Russell, speaking before Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, said he saw Alonso in a coffee shop days after the Australian race.

“We both move forward from this,” Russell said.

Asked if he had talked to Alonso about the incident in the coffee shop, he replied. “No, we didn’t. He didn’t get my coffee, though.”

Despite that jocular tone, Russell also described his fear after the crash and being on the track where cars reach speeds of 250 kph — or 155 mph.

“It was an incredible position to be in.” Russell said of the crash at Turn No. 6. “You’re on a blind bend — 250 kilometers per hour, right on the racing line with the car half upside down. You’re waiting for a disaster to happen.

“Fortunately I had a 10-second gap behind me. And I think it was 10 or 12 seconds before the safety car came out. But in the space of 10 seconds you can have five, six cars, seven cars — if that was on lap one of the race — and probably been hit numerous times even with the yellow flag.”

Russell called for a quicker response time and the use of technology to help do it.

“I think we need to find a way that if a car is in a danger zone, it’s automated — straightaway within half a second or so because those seconds count and lives are at risk. I think it’s time with the technology that now we have to make steps in this area.”

Russell said drivers have a right to brake, downshift or speed up to get the right “racing line.” But he suggested limits.

“When we start braking in the middle of the straight, downshifting, accelerating, upshifting again, then braking again — I think that goes beyond the realm of adjusting your line,” Russell said, calling it “one step too far.”

“I don’t think what Fernando did was extraordinarily dangerous, but it will open up a can of worms if it wasn’t penalized.”

Formula 1: https://ift.tt/Ceafb1v

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