Mercedes considers it ‘unlikely’ that they will replace any more Lewis Hamilton engine parts this weekend in Turkey. The Briton has been given a ten-place grid penalty for a new combustion engine. Mercedes also immediately explains why it has not opted for a complete engine change.
Mercedes indicated after the Russian Grand Prix that it had some question marks about the engine. They had to give Valtteri Bottas a new engine at Monza, but a race later in Russia another problem came to light and the fifth engine of the season was inevitable. Meanwhile, Hamilton is still working on his three engines within the pool, although the question is whether he can finish the remaining seven races with it. As a precaution, Mercedes has decided to give him a new combustion engine, his fourth of the season. Because it is not a complete engine change, it will put him on a grid penalty of ten places. According to Mercedes, a complete engine change would not have been worth it.
“We simulate all races until the end of the year,” explains track side engineering director Andrew Shovlin to Sky Sports. “You have a balance sheet and a risk of reliability issues. The last thing you want is to have an engine problem in the race and then have to take a grid penalty anyway.”
“Then you also have the performance element, because the power units do lose some horsepower in their lifetime,” continues Shovlin. “The ten-place grid penalty contributes most to the reliability element and the performance comes from the combustion engine itself, so it’s better to get ten places than start at the very back.”
For now, Mercedes has only replaced Hamilton’s combustion engine, but that could become even more engine parts this weekend if it turns out that those parts also need to be replaced. Moreover, it could also become a tactical decision if he has a bad qualification. Still, Shovlin thinks there is little chance that they will replace even more in Turkey. “It’s unlikely. There’s a lot of work to be done if you’re going to change some of those elements over the race weekend, so we’re pretty happy with the decision we’ve made so far and we’ll probably stick with that,” concludes Shovlin.