Polesitter George Russell’s British GP Was Over Before It Started

Polesitter George Russell's British GP Was Over Before It Started
Credits: IMAGO / NurPhoto

George Russell won the Austrian Grand Prix and took the pole for the British GP. The Briton was in contention for a consecutive race win in Silverstone before calamity struck. Russell had to retire his car midway through the race due to a water system issue, as he was catching Max Verstappen in P3. Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin reveals how Russell’s race was over in the first stint itself.

“We knew we had an issue relatively early in the race. We were tracking this from the first stint. Didn’t know it was going to be terminal,” said Shovlin in Mercedes’ debrief video.

Explaining the culprit, he added, “It was all linked to a leak that was in the water system. It was causing the pressure to drift. Ultimately when we stopped the car, it was to protect the Power Unit.”

Shovlin stated that the team retired the car to protect the engine, especially when they knew that they were not going to finish the race. Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez have already taken grid penalties due to using extra engine components with Verstappen on the verge of one.

Mercedes now have a car that’s challenging for wins and having to take an engine penalty would’ve put them on the back foot for a whole weekend.

Although Russell was in the hunt for a win during the first stint of the race, Mercedes’ double pit stop left him in P4 behind Verstappen. The question is, could he have finished P4 or higher while nursing the issue? What could’ve been the result had the leak not been there?

What would’ve been George Russell’s fate if Mercedes did not retire the car?

George Russell started the race and pole and was in the lead. Had it been a dry race, the Briton would’ve arguably taken the win. Andrew Shovlin highlighted the same in Mercedes’ debrief video as he explained how Russell was able to build a couple-second gap to Hamilton.

However, given the conditions, Russell would’ve had to overtake Verstappen to get on the podium. Shovlin said, “If you take the point where we decided to retire the car, we were on intermediates, George was in P4, closing in on Max. To get him on the podium, he would’ve had to overtake Max at that point realistically.”

Shovlin went on to explain how P4 would’ve been the minimum result with a podium being the maximum result. However, given how strong Verstappen was on the hard tires during the last stint, it is difficult to imagine that Russell would’ve been in for a podium.

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