Mercedes have decided to take a 10-place grid penalty for Lewis Hamilton for the Turkish GP. Unlike, Red Bull's Max Verstappen who took an engine update that placed him at the back of the grid for the Russian GP, Hamilton will avoid needing a full power unit change.
Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin spoke with Sky Sports F1 about the reasoning behind the team’s decision to use the single component change instead of the full engine upgrade that would place Hamilton at the back of the starting grid for the Turkish GP.
"We are simulating all the races until the end of the year.”
"There is the balance and risk of a reliability issue, and obviously the thing that you definitely don't want to do is fail during the race and then have to take a penalty anyway.
"Then there is also a performance element because the power units do lose a bit of horsepower over their life.
"The 10-place penalty is the bit that most contributes to that reliability element and the performance is the ICE itself, so it is better to take 10 places than to start from the back."
Shovlin is content and confident that Mercedes’s decision to focus on the elements that contribute to the ICE will be sufficient enough. He also thinks it’s unlikely that there will be issues that go further regarding the ICE components ahead of the Turkish GP.
Shovlin replied: "Unlikely really," he said. "There is a lot of fairly intrusive work when you start changing some of those elements during the race weekend, so we are pretty happy with the decision we have taken so far and that is likely on what we'll stick with."
In Sochi, Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas had to take an engine penalty and 10-place grid drop for the Russian GP and the Finn struggled on track to move up in the dry, he eventually finished 5th as rain helped him move into the points. Despite the difficulties that Bottas endured at the Russian GP because of the grid drop, Shovlin feels optimistic that Hamilton will have a less challenging experience than his teammate on the Istanbul track.
"Working out how easy it is to overtake is actually quite hard because you know in your own mind which are the tracks that are good for passing," he explained.
Strategy is always key when it comes to racing and Mercedes has intentionally chosen the Intercity Istanbul Park track for Hamilton’s ICE engine update. In the past, this has been a track that has suited Hamilton during his GP2 days [he came from the back to finish P2] with ample opportunities for passing.
"Sochi has got a very long straight but we were struggling with understeer and that made it tricky. But this is a circuit, you'll remember Lewis in that GP2 race where he felt there is a lot of opportunity here, so it should make for an exciting Sunday."
Hamilton was the fastest for both practice 1 and practice 2 and is off to a solid start for the Turkish GP race weekend. However, with a 10- place grid penalty he will have his work cut out for him even if he secures his 101 pole for qualifying this weekend.