Mercedes to fix "smoking gun" that cost Russell a career-defining win
Mercedes chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin has confirmed the team is working on a solution to fix the "smoking gun" that robbed George Russell of a maiden Formula 1 victory.
Russell was on course to take the chequered flag in Sunday's Sakhir Grand Prix until a rare Mercedes mistake sparked a chain of events that resulted in the young Briton finishing ninth.
Shovlin has revealed at the heart of the double-stack pit-stop gaffe that resulted in Russell being sent out with the front tyres belonging to Valtteri Bottas was a missed radio message due to a glitch in the system.
"We have found a smoking gun and that is to do with how the radio system prioritises messages," said Shovlin.
"When [team manager] Ron [Meadows] is calling out the crews and getting them to get the tyres ready for the two drivers there were a number of broadcasts at that time on the radio system.
“The system knows to prioritise the messages coming from Ron because the most important thing is the tyres are there more so than something the driver says or something that someone in the crew might say.
“But it looks like there is a period whereby the system is deciding to let the prioritised message through and we missed a key bit of the broadcast, such that half of the tyre collectors didn’t get the message and it looks like half of them did.
“Therefore we’ve got the cars coming in and all the tyres are not ready in the pit lane."
Conceding that what then unfolded looked "like a mess of not really understanding what we are doing", he added: "The issue all comes downs to this root cause where we lost a key message at a key point.
"There was very little time between the safety car and George coming into the pits. As I said, we found this smoking gun so we just need to go through all the logs of everything to see how that was working.
"Once we have got a complete understanding of that and filled in a few of the blanks that we’re not certain of at the moment we can then look at a solution for the next race in Abu Dhabi.”
From the bungled pit stop Russell then charged his way back into contention for the win and was within three seconds of leader and eventual victor Sergio Perez when his W11 sustained a slow puncture, likely sustained by the 22-year-old needing to go off the racing line to make up places.
“We lost about one-and-a-half psi on the lap," said Shovlin when the puncture was first noticed. "We knew that we were okay to watch it for a period.
"But what you need to be careful of is when you start to get down to low pressure, which would be around 12 psi, you start to trigger very rapid damage to the casing and the tyre itself can fail.
“So we just took a lap to confirm it was absolutely real. You’re just sanity checking it, and you just sort of pull the trigger on the pit stop, bring him in and fit another set and then he’s got another mountain to climb going out. It was unfortunate.
“We’ve had a really rough time with punctures here. We’ve had three in two races so it has not been good and I think we’ve done well for the rest of the season.
"But they’re just random events and it’s unfortunate. Certainly nothing he did wrong, but it was the final nail in the coffin.”
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