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F1 | Mercedes‘s James Vowles on engine reliability concerns: "One failure to finish would be catastrophic for the championship"

The Head of Strategy explained that the team decided to take up a third added engine for Bottas so as to avoid DNFs  in the final rounds of the championship 

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F1 | Mercedes‘s James Vowles on engine reliability concerns: "One failure to finish would be catastrophic for the championship"
Fuente imagen: Mandy Curi -Motorlat

Mercedes believes that a key part in the season finale will be played by managing in the best possible way the engines, in order to avoid failures that could lead to crashes, and what could turn into a serious disadvantage in the fight for the constructors' and drivers' titles.

For this exact reason, Valtteri Bottas has took on a sixth added ICE at Austin, getting his third penalty in the last four races, leaving the Finn "hopeful" that a fourth new engine won't be needed, as he said after the race:

“I really hope we’re done for now. Having both of the engines that are good in my engine pool, they seem to be OK – we haven’t detected any issues in either," referring to the new engine he had taken up in Monza, which Bottas had declared "gone" in the race immediately after at Sochi, where he was forced to take another one.

“Fingers crossed I can go to the end now without penalties, because with a close championship, when you get put back five places, it really compromises your race," he added.

His teammate Lewis Hamilton took his first extra components (a new ICE unit, as it seems the most problematic part of the power unit) at the Turkish Grand Prix, but the option of taking another one up is still on the table, said Team Principal Toto Wolff:

"I can't say whether we will be taking one and what the percentage is, but obviously the risk is still there," adding also that the issues causing such damage and instability aren't fully clear and known to the team.

"We haven't understood... We haven't understood fully. I think we are a step closer now, so it's not always that we are literally easy with having the engines. We're hanging on for dear life in supplying all customers. That is not trivial."

Mercedes's Head of Strategy James Vowles explained the reasoning behind the number of extra parts taken up: "We are balancing performance versus reliability to the end of the season."

"One failure to finish a race because of a chassis or power unit fault would be catastrophic for the championship and, as a result of that, we are managing that in the best way possible to the end of the year," he said, highlighting the importance of taking as little risks as possibile in these crucial rounds.

Vowles added that the new engine wasn't employed to ensure a much improved performance, but in order to have more power units to rotate among in the upcoming race weekends:

"In the case of Valtteri, that meant taking one further ICE to make sure we had absolutely the best compromise. As to whether it improved his performance, yes, a small amount, but it is more about the balance across the remainder of the season than one event."

"So this change, as painful as it was during the Austin Grand Prix, will actually pay dividends across the next few races," he summed up.

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