Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff has said that the team was not able to run the engines on as ‘spicy’ a setting in today’s qualifying session as they would have liked, as the team continues to analyse why Lewis Hamilton’s engine failed in the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The Austrian added that they will also run the engine on a slightly less high performance setting in the Japanese Grand Prix tomorrow, but added that the ‘deficit will not be as large in qualifying.’
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was gratified after qualifying third, to note how close Ferrari were to the Mercedes. His team mate Sebastian Vettel expressed similar sentiments. They will be slightly dismayed to learn that the Mercedes engine was turned down, but teams have to deliver performance within sustainable levels and that is the competition.
“There is no guarantee we are safe for tomorrow,” said Wolff. “The safety measures were in place [today] to maybe not run it as spicy as we could. But we are not sure 100% that this will protect it.”
Meanwhile Mercedes’ engine department in Brixworth, England continues the process of analysing Hamilton’s Sepang failure and trying to replicate the failure of the big end bearing on another example from the batch, which failed.
Wolff stressed that Mercedes are concerned that a retirement through technical failure for either driver in these final five races can have such a large bearing on the drivers’ championship at this stage.They are understandably keen to avoid another large points swing either way through technical faults.
The Japanese Grand Prix, which will see Nico Rosberg start from pole position with Lewis Hamilton in second place for a third year running, is a potentially critical race. A win for Rosberg would guarantee that he could be champion by finishing second in all the remaining four races.
At that point only a technical failure or an incident like the startline clash with Vettel in Malaysia, could deny him the world championship. That would require Hamilton to win the final four races.
Minutes after Wolff spoke, in front of the same gathering, Hamilton escalated his battle with the media; the reigning world champion walked out of Mercedes’ press briefing without answering questions saying that he would not be taking part in any further such gatherings in future, as a protest against the way the media had reacted to his Snapchat episode during Thursday’s FIA press conference.
Leave your comments in the section below