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Mercedes retired George Russell’s W15 at British GP to avoid penalty later this F1 season

Lewis Hamilton’s victory at the British Grand Prix gave Mercedes its second consecutive victory, following George Russell’s surprise win at the Austrian Grand Prix and helping the team move closer to grid-topping Red Bull.

However, it might have been a better day for Mercedes had the water system in Russell’s W15 not failed – the Mercedes driver was running in fourth place but was told to retire on lap 33, ending the Silver Arrows’ chances of a double podium finish.

In Team post-race reportTrackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said Mercedes had been tracking the issues with Russell’s W15 since the early stages of the race and had taken the difficult decision to retire his car to prevent further damage and possibly a grid penalty later in the season.

“Unfortunately we knew we had an issue quite early on in the race and we were tracking it from the first stint.” Said Shovlin. The water system caused pressure fluctuations and ultimately it was to protect the power unit that the car was shut down. So we knew we couldn’t finish the race.

“The last thing you want is to finish the race and then destroy your power unit, which would probably mean a penalty later in the year. So it was a precaution, but it would have been impossible to get to the chequered flag.”

Towards the British Grand PrixRussell employed several new components in the W15, including a new internal combustion engine, a new turbocharger, a new Motor Generator Unit-Heat (MGU-H) and a new Motor Generator Unit-Kinetic (MGU-K). Each of these units was the third component fitted to Russell’s car this year, one short of the total allotment of four allowed per season without penalty.

Pushing Russell’s W15 to the point of potential failure at Silverstone and “destroying” the power unit as Shovlin suggested would have almost certainly resulted in a penalty later in the season, which is exactly the situation Max Verstappen finds himself in after his team made a similar change ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

The decision to retire Russell’s car may have caused some heartache on Sunday at Silverstone, but it could pay off for Mercedes later this season.