Russell suspects F1 Canadian GP crash not to blame for retirement

George Russell suspects his retirement from Formula 1's Canadian GP was due to Mercedes incorrectly configuring his car's brakes, rather than from damage sustained when he hit the wall.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, loses his tyre in the pit lane

Fourth-starting Russell initially challenged a slow-launching Fernando Alonso for third place before settling into position. But on lap 12 of 70, he ran deep into the Turns 8-9 chicane to hit the inside kerb.

That deflected him wide into the exit wall where he damaged his front wing and rear-right wheel.

Russell managed to limp the W14 back to the pits for repairs and he did resume, eventually climbing up to eighth place in a car he reported to be "a bit bent but it's OK".

However, Mercedes instructed him to eventually pull out on lap 53 due to excessive brake wear.

Initially, it was thought that his retirement was directly related to the wall hit that might have damaged the brake cooling ducts to cause temperatures to spike. But Russell suspects the true cause was his car not having been set up to cope with the demands of running in the dirty air of other cars.

Explaining his initial mistake, Russell said: "I just went a bit wide into Turn 8. I knew I was going to hit the kerb, but I wasn't expecting the sausage kerb to have such a violent response.

"Next thing, I'm in the air. When I landed, I lost the rear and I was in the wall. It all happened really quite suddenly."

Russell added that he thought his race was over immediately at this point and that it was right that his error had major consequences as he believes that F1 should 'punish' its drivers.

Damage and debris from a crash for George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Damage and debris from a crash for George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

He continued: "I did [assume it was over], to be honest. I was surprised that we managed to continue. I was very close to pulling up… it's a difficult pill to swallow. But that's how the sport should be. One small mistake and you should be punished for it."

Russell said of his eventual retirement: "It didn't feel 100% perfect [after pitting] but it was good enough to drive. I think the rear toe was probably a little bit out.

"We could have finished home in P8 but we were in a lot of traffic and the pre-race predictions, obviously we weren't expecting to be in that position. Hence why we probably got the brakes in the wrong place."

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Ask to confirm whether he thought the brake failure was mostly unrelated to hitting the wall, Russell said: "I need to look into it with the team but I'm pretty sure it was just because I was in so much traffic.

"We weren't planning to be and the brakes weren't in the right spot for that.

"It was all quite sudden when it was too late. I think the thing with brakes, once you go over a certain oxidation threshold, there's no recovering.

"It doesn't matter how much you nurse them. They're just on a rate you can't recover."

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