Mercedes didn't tell Russell about potential race-ending leak - The Race
Formula 1

Mercedes didn’t tell Russell about potential race-ending leak

Nov 13 2022
By Jack Benyon and Edd Straw

George Russell had a water leak that threatened his Brazilian Grand Prix victory – and the Mercedes Formula 1 driver didn’t even know about it during the race.

Russell put in a dominant display to take his first win and Mercedes’ first victory of what has been a troubled 2022 F1 season – which the looming problem on Russell’s car might have made even more painful still.

“It wasn’t clear if we could actually make it to the end,” said team boss Toto Wolff, who was missing what is believed to be only his fourth race having not made the trip to Brazil for this event, although he was in contact with the team during the race.

“We talked about it on the intercom and we all agreed we’re going to let him drive to the end even without water and just try to finish the race.”

Wolff asked team communications director Bradley Lord to describe in more detail what had happened as Wolff himself had been “too far away for that” while following the race remotely.

“About half distance, we knew about it,” added Lord, “and George wasn’t informed. So he wasn’t aware.

“We were concerned at one point that we would be four or five laps from the finish and not making it, but then it did, but by the skin of its teeth.”

The win and Lewis Hamilton’s second place meant Mercedes cut the gap to second-placed Ferrari down to 19 points in the constructors’ championship with one race in Abu Dhabi remaining.

Wolff praised the team for delivering in his absence, and admitted to thinking about when Mercedes signed Russell back in 2017 and the progress he has made as a person and a driver.

“I thought about it at the end of the race, when he walked in as a 16-year-old with his suit and his tie and his PowerPoint presentation,” said Wolff.

“And he’s the first of our new junior programme that has won a race. Obviously, Lewis [who was part of Mercedes’ junior efforts in collaboration with McLaren] has been there forever.

“And he’s [Russell] the most successful of the ones that have graduated from the junior academy. Six years later, he’s a grand prix race winner. Deserved.

“We’ve always set hard targets: ‘you’ve got to win GP3, you’ve got to win F2’. And he did that in his rookie seasons.

“And then I guess at Williams, it was the best school you could have had, maybe a year too long.

“But in any case, today, the most relevant is that he’s a grand prix winner and the deserving grand prix winner.”

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