George Russell’s PU reportedly unsalvageable as Mercedes diagnose Melbourne failure

Michelle Foster
George Russell retires from the race. Australia April 2023.

Mercedes driver George Russell walks away from his car after retiring from the race. Melbourne April 2023.

A piece of debris in the cylinder is reportedly what caused the fire that put George Russell out of the Australian Grand Prix, that power unit unsalvageable.

Russell’s Sunday afternoon at the Albert Park circuit went from the high of leading the grand prix, the Briton getting the jump on pole-sitter Max Verstappen off the line, to the disappointment of a retirement.

Having lost the lead when he pitted when the Safety Car came out for Alex Albon’s crashed Williams, Russell’s hopes of a first win in 2023 were dented when the race was subsequently red flagged.

The Mercedes driver tried to make up positions on the restart but it came to nought when his engine failed, forcing him to park the car on the side of the track as flames poured from the back of the car.

The engine will, reportedly, not be going back into the Briton’s pool for the season.

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“Mercedes has found out the cause of the engine damage,” reports Auto Motor und Sport. “A piece of debris in the cylinder caused a fire. The technicians can no longer save the six-cylinder.”

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff had suspected that it was a cylinder, telling the media after Melbourne: “Bang! It’s a proper failure but we don’t know what it was yet. I think it was on one of the cylinders.”

However, it took Mercedes’ engine technicians some time to conclude the exact cause given the extent of the damage.

“According to this,” the German publication added, “a foreign part got mixed up in the combustion process, which ultimately led to a drop in performance and the associated failure.

“A fragment was responsible for this. The engine ingested the debris in a cylinder, forcing the failure.

“The debris comes from a component that is not part of the sealed area of the engine.

“The technicians have declared the combustion engine and the associated elements such as the turbocharger and MGU-H are lost. It is still being investigated whether other components such as the battery or the power electronics can be saved.”

Russell’s DNF is the second engine-related issue for a Mercedes-powered driver with Lando Norris stopping six times at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix for McLaren to top up his engine’s pneumatic pressure.

That was the result of a leak in the pneumatic valve system”, Norris’ power unit also relegated to the scrap heap.