Williams explains Russell gearbox issues, hopes for Mexican GP race of attrition

Williams remains unsure about the “couple of unrelated” problems that meant George Russell’s practice and race gearboxes had to be replaced at Formula 1’s 2021 Mexican Grand Prix.

Williams explains Russell gearbox issues, hopes for Mexican GP race of attrition

Russell missed most of second practice on Friday afternoon after a transmission problem developed early in the one-hour session.

But he was already running the gearbox he had been set use in Sunday’s race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, after his usual high-mileage ‘practice’ gearbox had developed its own problem during FP1 and had been swapped out.

The problem on Russell’s race gearbox meant he takes a five-place grid penalty for getting a new replacement.

Williams’ head of vehicle performance, Dave Robson, said the problems on the gearboxes were not the same.

“So, we had a couple of unrelated gearbox issues with George [on Friday],” Robson said after qualifying, where Russell finished 13th.

“We aren’t yet sure exactly what the cause was. They’re both slightly different issues. Not much else to say I’m afraid.

“In a way we were fortunate because we fitted the spare, which was actually his race gearbox.

“So at least it failed in FP2 rather than [Saturday or Sunday]. But we’re still looking into exactly what the cause was.”

George Russell, Williams

George Russell, Williams

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Robson explained that as Williams normally faces “so few gearbox problems” it felt “fairly comfortable bringing the race boxes as a spare” for every grand prix, with the additional costs of transporting more gearboxes around the world the reason why it makes such a choice.

“There are some spare internal components here, so in effect the gearbox George ran in FP1 has been made up with a new set of parts and is now available as a spare here,” Robson added.

“There’s some extra stuff coming out from the UK to go to Brazil [next weekend].

“But it really is just a case of balancing risk. And on this occasion we would’ve rather had another one with us.

“But weighing everything up, the normal risks with the gearbox, it’s not worth the trade we don’t think.”

Read Also:

Russell will start 16th – ahead of the four drivers that have taken new engines this weekend – with Nicholas Latifi boosted from his 17th-place Q1 exit to start 15th by the various grid penalties.

With overtaking usually tough at the Mexico City track because the slipstream effect is reduced by thin air at high altitude, Robson says Williams is hoping the additional headaches the conditions make for F1 cars’ brakes and engines may result in an attritional race where his drivers can still make progress.

“Overtaking is pretty difficult normally here,” Robson explained.

“But I think equally the ambient conditions and the temperature is supposed to be similar to what we’ve had the last couple of days, which is unseasonably high when you look at the statistics for October-November here in Mexico.

“So, I think there is still some hope or expectation from us that it will be tough race for everyone.

“That the brakes, particularly at the front of the car, will be on the limit. And power units will have a tough time as keeping them cool is tricky as well. The tyres as well can behave a little bit peculiarly – particularly when you into all of that brake and power unit saving.

“So, I think normally, if everyone’s car is in good in health the whole race, sort of side by side racing, I don’t think we’ll see too much of that, not much overtaking.

“But it could become a bit more of a battle of attrition, which we’re hoping for anyway. We’ll wait and see. Particularly towards the end of the race, see if things change.”

shares
comments

Related video

Hamilton will “work as a team” with Bottas at Mexico GP start
Previous article

Hamilton will “work as a team” with Bottas at Mexico GP start

Next article

F1 Mexican Grand Prix: Live commentary and updates

F1 Mexican Grand Prix: Live commentary and updates
Why Mercedes believes it can make the step F1 needs to fight Red Bull Plus

Why Mercedes believes it can make the step F1 needs to fight Red Bull

The 2022 Formula 1 season was Mercedes' leanest for a decade, achieving just a solitary pole and grand prix win. Yet the team is confident it has got the tools it needs to cast that disappointment aside and return to the front of the field again next year

How BRM's one-off F1 double defied its rollercoaster history Plus

How BRM's one-off F1 double defied its rollercoaster history

It’s 60 years since BRM achieved its goal and Graham Hill led the team to a world title double. But that was just part of the remarkable story of a unique team that at times overstretched its resources and had its fair share of disappointments

Formula 1
Dec 8, 2022
The bold F1 DRS experiment that could end the debate forever Plus

The bold F1 DRS experiment that could end the debate forever

OPINION: The effectiveness of DRS in Formula 1 remains a topic of debate as the winter break gives a chance for reflection on the racing we saw in 2022. For all of its detractors, perhaps an experiment where DRS is cast aside and the impact this has on racing is in order to truly understand its merits in modern F1

Formula 1
Dec 8, 2022
The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche Plus

The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche

OPINION: Everything looked set for Red Bull and Porsche to join forces for the 2026 season, before the marriage between both parties was called off. While at the time it looked like a major coup for Formula 1 in gaining both VW Group powerhouses Audi and Porsche for 2026, Red Bull and Porsche have really been spared a potentially fractious relationship.

Formula 1
Dec 7, 2022
How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Plus

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2022
The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start Plus

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start

While it launched the F1 career 
of a future world champion, STUART CODLING recalls that the BT60 was also the final nail in the coffin of a once-great marque 30 years ago. Here is its story

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2022
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022