Mercedes: ‘Out of control’ brake wear forced Russell retirement

George Russell would not have seen the chequered flag in Canada due to excessive brake wear

George Russell would not have seen the chequered flag in Canada due to excessive brake wear – Image: Russell Batchelor/XPB

Mercedes has revealed it was forced to retire George Russell in the Canadian Grand Prix due to “out of control” brake wear not associated with his crash earlier in the race.

Russell was running in a comfortable fourth position at Montréal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve when he hit a kerb on the entry to Turn 8 that unsettled the car, resulting in him losing the rear end and hitting a wall on the exit of Turn 9.

Despite a heavily damaged right-rear wheel and front wing, Russell was able to limp back to the pits. Following repairs, the 25-year-old rejoined the back of the pack for a safety car period required to clear the on-track debris from his W14.

But with an outside chance of clambering back into the points, with 15 laps remaining, Mercedes ordered Russell to retire the car.

Explaining the circumstances, chief technical officer Mike Elliott said: “As you could see from the footage, he did quite a lot of damage: he damaged the front wing, broke the rear rim and, therefore, had a puncture and that’s what caused us to bring him in.

“The DNF itself was actually due to brake wear. You push the brakes really hard at a circuit like Canada; it’s a lot of big stops and we could see in our telemetry data the brake wear on George’s car was getting out of control.

“We could also see that we weren’t going to make the end of the race if we carried on as we were, and we could also see that where he was in traffic, in the DRS train, having to overtake the cars in front of him, it was almost going to be impossible to manage his brakes and, unfortunately, we had to retire the car.

“In terms of the real damage done to the car, in some ways we got lucky. The damage to the front wing, obviously we could change the wing at the pit stop; the damage to the tyre and the rim, we changed that at the pit stop.

“The floor and rear wing were pretty much unscathed. However, when you have a shunt of that magnitude it is always going to unsettle the car, it’s always going to leave the car not quite balanced as you want it to, and George had to deal with that for the rest of the race.”

Elliott conceded that after witnessing the crash, he thought Russell’s race was over at that point.

Russell also felt it was incumbent upon him to at least return the car to the pits for evaluation rather than pulling over to one side and retiring.

“George realised that potentially any damage he had done was the wheel rim, the puncture and the front wing, and that maybe he could get it back around and bring it into the pits and that’s exactly what he did do,” remarked Elliott.

“He said after the race that he remembered a grand prix where he didn’t bring the car back and he thought that was the wrong thing to do.

“Having got the car back into the pits, we had the right people look around the car and make sure there was no damage, make sure we were happy that it was safe to run.

“We looked through all the data we could get back in the telemetry and made sure that all the suspension was safe to run.

“We felt that if we put a set of tyres on it, put a new front wing on it, we could send it out and see whether the car felt right to George because we were happy with the data we were seeing.

“And as it turned out, the car was safe to run, and George was able to run up until the point where he was struggling with the brakes and having to retire for that reason.”

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