For years, the Mercedes engine dominated the Formula 1. The German engine still seems to be the most powerful on the field, but there are reasons for concern.
Since the F1 hybrid engine was introduced in 2014, the Mercedes engine has been unbeatable, not counting the period when Ferrari ‘cheated’. Also in 2021, the Mercedes engine is still better than Honda’s. However, not on all levels. The Mercedes delivers more power than the Honda, that’s for sure.
However, the indestructible German engine for the first time turned out to be less reliable than we are used to from Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton switched to his second engine before Verstappen this season and concerns are ringing about the lifespan of the Mercedes engines. Valtteri Bottas already switched to his fourth power unit in Monza, which resulted in a grid penalty.
Lewis Hamilton saw his first training bike go up in smoke during free practice for the Dutch GP. He is also very likely to receive a grid penalty, something Mercedes is as vague as possible about. But driving for half a season with only two engines, one of which already seems to be at its max? It seems almost impossible.
Honda, on the other hand, had hardly any reliability problems. Verstappen’s engine did its job flawlessly and only the heavy crash in Silverstone, where Verstappen’s engine suffered significant damage, could disrupt the schedule. Due to that damage, the Dutchman will be forced to use a fourth power unit this season.
Higher wear Mercedes
It is striking that the Mercedes engines have more wear and reliability problems than in previous years. Especially since the engine is a further development of its predecessor. It may have to do with the very intense title battle in which Mercedes and Red Bull go neck-and-neck and both teams push each other to the limit.
Losing highly regarded leaders such as Andy Cowell (in 2020) and James Allison (2021, got another position) in important positions may not have helped either.
Bottas has already started work on his fourth engine, but Mercedes also reportedly swapped engine parts at Hamilton in Monza after problems earlier over the weekend. This means that the Briton actually does not have a relatively fresh engine left.
It is very likely that several customer teams will also have to switch to a fourth engine. Mercedes would even run into a possible shortage of spare parts, something that is unique for the German manufacturer.
Mercedes’ hybrid system was unbeatable for years. Its efficiency was unprecedented, allowing the system to charge faster than the competition, allowing the extra hybrid power to be available a few seconds longer per lap.
Fpal has understood that this is no longer the case. Mercedes would suffer from clipping . Clipping The phenomenon where the engine no longer has the extra 120KW of the hybrid system at the end of the straight.
At Monza, this ensured that Hamilton did not get past the McLarens and the Sochi Autodrom is expected to be a circuit where clipping will become an even bigger problem for Mercedes due to the long straights.
Mercedes must drive around the problems
According to the latest rumors, Mercedes would have stopped the aerodynamic development of the W12. There would be no major updates in the last two months of the season. In the title fight in which it is all about tenths of a second, Mercedes has to pull out all the stops.
Fpal has learned that Mercedes has several problems with the engines, problems they have to drive around. Power unit management could become critical this season, apart from a grid penalty for Hamilton and Verstappen for deploying a fourth engine.
The load capacity of the engine, the lifespan and clipping will most likely play a major role in the title fight. It is therefore not unjustified that Mercedes is concerned.