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Mercedes reveal penalty concern sparked Russell retirement

George Russell was forced to retire from the British Grand Prix following a water system failure.

Russell Silverstone race
To news overview © XPBimages

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has revealed that George Russell retired from the British Grand Prix to avoid a potential future grid penalty. 

Russell was forced to retire from his home event on lap 34 due to a water system failure whilst fighting for a podium after starting the changeable-conditions race from pole position. 

The Briton revealed he was aware of an issue with his W15 10 laps before being told to retire the car. At first, Mercedes was unaware the problem was terminal.

"Unfortunately, we knew that we had an issue relatively early in the race, so we were tracking this from the first stint," said Shovlin. 

"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."

Russell was running in fourth at the time of his retirement but was part of a fight for the victory with Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. 

The 26-year-old was very strong in the opening stages when the circuit was completely dry, but struggled when rain started to fall. 

However, considering the latter stages of the race were in dry conditions on slick tyres, it can be assumed the British driver would have ended the race strongly.

Shovlin, though, was unable to predict where Russell would have finished had he not retired given the changeable conditions, but suspects that fourth would have been the minimum. 

"With a race like that, with the changing conditions, it's quite hard to say this is where we would have finished," noted 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 [a podium] if he could have passed Max on track on the inter."

Also interesting:

In the latest podcast, Ian, Sam and Nick discuss the British GP and Hamilton's emotional return to winning ways. Hamilton's journey since 2021 is discussed, as is Lando Norris' BIGGEST hurdle and Sergio Perez entering the Red Bull danger zone!

Rather watch than listen to the podcast? Click here.

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