Mercedes disturb the calm as George Russell triggers red flag on Day Two in Bahrain

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell, Mercedes, during the pre-season test. Bahrain, February 2023.

George Russell during the pre-season test. Bahrain, February 2023.

Day Two of testing in Bahrain was ticking along without any drama at all, until Mercedes made sure that it wasn’t, with George Russell pulling over.

The opening session of Friday’s action had been a very calm affair, dare we say dull, as Carlos Sainz set the pace before Max Verstappen blew his time out of the water in the afternoon session.

And it seemed like the afternoon running was going to follow a similar trend, but that went out of the window when Russell, who had taken over the W14 from team-mate Lewis Hamilton, began to slow.

Seemingly stuck in fourth gear, Russell was ultimately forced to accept his fate and park the W14 at the side of the track, having lost the engine as he exited Turn 10.

Marshals and Mercedes mechanics were called onto the back straight to retrieve Russell’s stricken car, with the W14 swiftly covered up, lifted onto a low-loader and driven back to the garage as the testing action was halted.

The overall gap in running eventually ended up being around 15 minutes, with the green flags waving again in Bahrain with around 75 minutes of running remaining and Mercedes left with a race against time if Russell was to get back out of the pits again, though it took the team a further 15 minutes before the car would arrive back in the pit lane at all.

This will come as a disappointment to Mercedes and Russell, in particular after trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin had said the car ran “faultlessly” in the first day of testing on Thursday.

Mercedes would indeed confirm that it was a hydraulics issue which brought the W14 to a stop, seemingly for the rest of the day.

“Confirmed hydraulic failure caused George’s stoppage,” said the team. “Highly unlikely the car will be back out today.”

Reliability issues have been few and far between for the teams so far in pre-season running, with almost 1,300 laps of Bahrain logged on Day One alone on Thursday. recommends

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