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
Load comments
The six F1 subplots to watch in 2022 as a new era begins Plus

The six F1 subplots to watch in 2022 as a new era begins

As Formula 1 prepares to begin a new era of technical regulations in 2022, Autosport picks out six other key elements to follow this season

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2022
Why newly-retired Raikkonen won't miss F1 Plus

Why newly-retired Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Autosport on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2022
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup Plus

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. Autosport breaks down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems Plus

Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway. But instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Plus

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Plus

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Plus

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022