Monday, July 15, 2024

Fears over George Russell engine penalty as Mercedes reveal reasons behind DNF

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Fearing a potential grid penalty down the line, Mercedes explained their “preventative” step to retire George Russell from the British Grand Prix as a water system leak wrecked his race.

With Russell having led the early stages of the race from pole position, rain showers passing through Silverstone threw the victory race wide open.

Mercedes risking George Russell penalty without retirement

At the point where Russell was running P4, closing down Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, disaster struck as Mercedes made the call for him to retire his W15 from the British GP.

The cause was a water system leak – which Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said they had been tracking since the first stint – adding that Russell stood no chance of making it to the chequered flag, racing on only heightening the risk of a grid penalty later in the season.

Minus the exhaust, Russell is one away from the maximum allowance on all other engine components permitted for the F1 2024 campaign.

Speaking about Russell’s DNF during Mercedes’ post-British GP debrief, Shovlin said: “I mean unfortunately we knew that we had an issue relatively early in the race, so we were tracking this from the first stint.

“We didn’t know that it was going to be terminal, but it’s all linked to a leak that was in the water system that was causing the pressure to start to drift, and ultimately when we stopped the car, it was to protect the power unit. So we knew that we were never going to finish the race.

“What you don’t want to do is finish the race and destroy the power unit, then you’ll be looking at a penalty possibly later in the year. So it was preventative, but there was no way that we were going to get to the chequered flag.”

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But, in an alternate scenario where Russell did make it to the chequered flag, Shovlin was asked whether he believed Russell had the pace to make the podium or even win the British Grand Prix.

Shovlin believes there “would have been a shot at it”, but Russell’s chances would have rested on his ability to overtake Verstappen at the point which he retired from the race.

“With a race like that, with the changing conditions, it’s quite hard to say this is where we would have finished,” said Shovlin.

“If it had been a dry race start to finish, looking at how George got off the line, how he was able to build a gap, I think he would have had a pretty straightforward afternoon.

“But if you take the point where we actually decided to retire the car, we were on intermediates, George was in P4, he was closing in on Max, so that was looking good.

“And to get him on the podium, he would have probably had to overtake Max at that point realistically, because we called the stop lap correct with Lewis when we went to dry tyres. So I think earlier it might have been a bit too damp.

“So as I said, minimum of P4, but there would have been a shot at it if he could have passed Max on track on the inter.”

Russell’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton went on to win the British Grand Prix, his record-breaking ninth Silverstone victory.

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