Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits that the German team have ‘doubts’ in the reliability of its power unit after Valtteri Bottas had to take a new engine for the second race in a row. Bottas took his fifth engine of the season in Russia and had to start from the back rows in Sochi as well as two weeks ago in Italy.
Initially, the British and German media interpreted this engine change as Mercedes ’attempt to hinder Max Verstappen in the race by moving Bottas closer to him, as the Dutchman also took a new engine and had to start from 20th position.
Wolff's statement about the 'tactical' change of engine didn't help either, but Mercedes revealed that they actually had problems with Bottas' engine. After the race, both Bottas and Mercedes admitted that there was doubt about the reliability of the power unit, and Wolff revealed that analyzes are currently being made of all the engines their drivers have at their disposal.
“We are currently analyzing the performance of the power units because we have some doubts and have not decided which engines can be used again,” Wolff said. In addition to Bottas' engine changes, Mercedes customer Williams also had to change Latifi's engine in Russia due to a penumatic leak — George Russell had the same problem in Austria earlier this season.
Hamilton is at great risk that he will need a change of engine and will be in the same situation as Verstappen, where he will have to start last and limit the damage as much as possible.
Wolff has doubts
For Verstappen, things could not have turned out better because he finished second, right behind Hamilton in a race in which they normally counted for a maximum of 3rd place.
Wolff says they didn’t change engines for 2 weekends in a row to create ‘supplies’ until the end of the season. "We have certain doubts. We are currently going race by race, analyzing power unit performance and making decisions.
We have to find the right balance to solve all the problems we have with the engine not only for this year but also for next year. " "We are currently thinking about how to continue the season in terms of power units," adds Wolff.
Hamilton took his third and last ‘free’ engine for this season in Belgium. He lost his oldest engine in the Netherlands after a problem in the second free practice a week later in Zandvoort, and by the end of the season he has only 2 engines available.
This means that there is a good chance that Hamilton will have to take the fourth engine in one of the races by the end of the season and start from the back. "I lost one engine, Valtteri has several. I try to take care of my engines when I drive and reduce the number of laps. But who knows, I can't control the future, "Hamilton replied when asked if he would need a fourth engine.