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Wheel nut retainer caused Russell retirement in Sochi, say Williams

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Williams have revealed the cause of the accident that saw George Russell retire from the Russian Grand Prix, tracing the issue back to a problem with a wheel nut retainer.

Having crashed out of the Singapore Grand Prix after contact with Romain Grosjean, Russell retired from his second race in succession in Russia, appearing to lock up under braking and spearing into the barriers at Sochi’s Turn 8 on Lap 27. And while Russell was initially in the dark about the cause of the incident, a statement from the team’s Senior Race Engineer Dave Robson cleared the matter up.

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“We found an issue with the wheel nut retainer on George’s car, which led to the front-right wheel not sitting perfectly,” said Robson. “This caused a lock-up under braking. The design is very mature and well-proven. The remaining inventory will be inspected thoroughly, and we do not anticipate a repeat of the issue.”

We were forced to retire Robert’s car due to the amount of damage we sustained in the Singapore-Russia back-to-back races

Dave Robson, Williams' Senior Race Engineer

Williams also moved to cover off questions regarding why Robert Kubica was retired from the Russian Grand Prix a lap after Russell’s crash, despite driving a seemingly healthy FW42.

“Unfortunately, we were forced to retire Robert’s car due to the amount of accident damage we sustained in the Singapore-Russia back-to-back races in order to protect ourselves going into the next events,” said Robson. “The team has worked extremely hard to ensure race quantities have improved ahead of Japan and the final races.”

The Russian Grand Prix marked Williams’ first double retirement in 2019, a year which has seen the team score just once, at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

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