Mercedes is reportedly unable to salvage George Russell’s power unit that failed during the Australian Grand Prix, causing the Briton to retire from the event.
Russell led the race in Melbourne early on, taking the lead from Max Verstappen on the opening lap.
However, he was shuffled back down the order when a red flag was called after he made his first pit stop, with those ahead yet to change tyres.
As he looked to recover back towards the head of the pack, Russell pulled over on the start/finish straight with flames emitting from the rear of the W14.
“Bang! It was a proper failure but we don’t know yet what it was,” team boss Toto Wolff said after the race. “I think it was on one of the cylinders.”
Mercedes had hoped that the engine would be able to be used again, however according to Auto Motor und Sport, that will not be possible.
“Mercedes has found out the cause of the engine damage,” the report said. “A piece of debris in the cylinder caused a fire. The technicians can no longer save the six-cylinder.
“According to this, a foreign part got mixed up in the combustion process, which ultimately led to a drop in performance and the associated failure.
“A fragment was responsible for this. The engine ingested the debris in a cylinder, forcing the failure.”
“The debris comes from a component that is not part of the sealed area of the engine.
“The technicians have declared the combustion engine and the associated elements such as the turbocharger and MGU-H are lost.
“It is still being investigated whether other components such as the battery or the power electronics can be saved.”
Russell is now set to be fitted with new engine parts ahead of the next weekend’s event in Baku.
However, such a failure early on in the season marks a blow for Mercedes and increases the chances that Russell will take an engine-related grid penalty this season.