George Russell set to receive grid penalty

George Russell briefly led the Australian Grand Prix prior to his engine failure.

George Russell’s 2023 F1 season is likely to become even harder, following reports by Auto Motor und Sport (AMuS) that his engine from the recent Australian Grand Prix is beyond repair.

Up until Lap 18 at the Albert Park Circuit, Russell had been enjoying an excellent weekend, with the Briton having qualified on the front row alongside reigning World Champion Max Verstappen.

Russell made a strong start and led into the opening corner, before pitting early on after a Safety Car was released following a crash for Alex Albon.

Pitting under the Safety Car initially appeared to be a stroke of genius by Mercedes; however, a red flag moments later meant Russell effectively pitted for no reason.

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Drivers are allowed to change their tyres during a red flag stoppage, meaning everybody who hadn’t yet pitted received a free pit-stop.

As disappointing as this was for Russell, he made good progress back towards the front once the race restarted, only to then suffer a dramatic engine failure.

His Mercedes power unit started spitting out flames, with Russell having pulled to the side of the circuit as a result.

Initially, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff shared that he believed the failure was cylinder-related; however, it now appears that isn’t the case.

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According to AMuS, Russell’s engine from Australia has significant damage to its internal combustion engine, turbocharger and MGU-H, as well as other components.

Due to the extent of the damage, the power unit is beyond repair and will be replaced ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, putting Russell at a disadvantage for the remainder of the season.

Each driver only has three legal power units this season, with any further engines resulting in a grid penalty.

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With one engine now unavailable, Russell is likely going to face a grid penalty at some point this season, given the ridiculously slim chances of getting through the remaining 20 races using just two engines.

AMuS have also reported that a piece of debris was caught and became stuck in the cylinder, causing the fire.

Supposedly, Mercedes are determining whether the power electronics and battery can be used again this season, in a bid to salvage something from the destroyed engine.