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Gearbox issues force Tydd St Giles driver George Russell to retire from Azerbaijan GP

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Gearbox issues forced Tydd St Giles’ Formula One driver George Russell to retire from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday.

The former Wisbech Grammar School student’s race at an action-packed event in Baku was halted with only three laps remaining after the Williams driver reported a lack of power.

It had been a troublesome start to the event for the 23-year-old who dropped one position from 16th on the first lap before opting for an early pit stop to change onto the hard compound Pirelli tyres and re-emerging at the back of the grid.

George Russell.
George Russell.

Russell was, however, able to benefit from his early pit stop as the rest of the pack began pitting for their first stop and, by lap 10 of 51, he had recovered four positions back into 16th.

As the laps ticked down, Russell maintained his position but was unable to advance any further until a heavy crash for Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin brought out the safety car on lap 29.

Due to the location of Stroll’s crash, the pit lane was closed while the marshals recovered the stricken vehicle.

Once it was re-opened on lap 35, Russell pitted for a second time, changing for another set of hard compound Pirelli tyres before rejoining the pack and focusing on gaining positions.

Unfortunately, the drama wasn’t over and a large crash for the Red Bull of Max Verstappen on lap 48 brought out the red flag, pausing the session and causing all the drivers to file back into the pits while the track was cleared.

The red flag gave Russell and his Williams team the perfect opportunity to switch to the soft compound Pirelli tyres for one last push for the points.

Once the track was deemed clear, the drivers snaked out of the pit lane and towards the grid for a standing start.

However, in a devastating twist of fate, a gearbox issue for Russell forced him to retire from the race.

Russell said: “Unfortunately, we had a problem with the gearbox which forced me to retire before the race restarted.

“I was just coming to the line and then I had no power, which is especially frustrating after so much anticipation building up before those final two laps.

“It wasn’t meant to be, and that’s racing sometimes. We’ll go away and analyse what happened.

“I was having a good race before that, the car felt fast and I had a lot of confidence in it so there are definitely positives to take away from the weekend.”

Russell will now turn his attention to the next round of the Formula 1 championship in the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on Sunday, June 13.

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