Williams confirm Russell’s five-place gearbox penalty

Michelle Foster
George Russell climbing into his Williams. Mexico November 2021

George Russell climbing into his Williams with one foot in the car, one out Mexico November 2021

George Russell has a five-place grid penalty for the Mexican Grand Prix, Williams confirming they had to change his gearbox.

Russell ran into trouble in Friday’s second practice at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, the Briton reporting a problem on his second lap out.

He told Williams that his “gearbox has gone” before almost adding that it was “back”.

Asked if he was permitted to charge gears, a rather frantic Russell pushed the issue: “Can I change gear? Can I change gear, let me know ASAP. Can I? Yes or no? Can I change gear or not?”

Williams eventually told him “no gear change for now” with Russell limping back into the pits.

That was the end of his session, the 23-year-old telling the media after FP2 that Williams were looking to see if they “can recover that gearbox and where we go from there really.

“Not ideal,” he added, “but it’s only Friday and points are awarded on Sunday.”

Unfortunately for Russell, Williams have confirmed that his FW43B needs a new gearbox and that means a grid penalty.

“We found an issue with George’s gearbox at the end of FP1 and so we opted to fit his race box for FP2,” said Dave Robson, the team’s Head of Vehicle Performance.

“Unfortunately, this suffered with a different failure during the first run of FP2.

“We reduced the running on Nicholas’s car whilst we understood the problem and confirmed that he wouldn’t suffer the same issue.

“George will now take a new gearbox, which will leave him with a grid penalty on Sunday.

“This is frustrating, but at least it happened today rather than during the race.”

As for Russell, he reiterated that it is Sunday that matters most.

“Unusually, we encountered several gearbox issues today and have consequently had to take a new gearbox which will give us a grid penalty,” he said.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s Sunday where the points are awarded.

“FP1 on the other hand was a strong session for us. The car was feeling good, I found a decent rhythm and we showed some strong race pace.


“That race pace is going to be critical as the high altitude makes it really difficult for the cooling, for the brakes and for the power unit.

“If we’re on top of that then I think we can be on the front foot for the race.”

Russell is one of three drivers facing a grid penalty as both Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda have taken new engine parts. They’ll start at the very back of the grid.