Last weekend at Interlagos, in Brazil, was a rollercoaster of emotions for Mercedes. Starting from the penalty that forced Hamilton to start from last position in Saturday's Sprint Qualifying, up to the resounding comeback victory on Sunday.
Beyond the great performance of Hamilton, technically Mercedes was superior and it was very noticeable looking at the speeds reached by the engines, especially Lewis’ one.
The Englishman was, in fact, able to count on a new Power Unit, powered by 15 extra horsepower, given the limited distance that of the new engine (2500 km and not 7000km).
Although at Brackley they are more optimistic from the point of view of reliability, given the PU change, but they still "have questions" and don’t exclude that the "super" performance of the new engine may be significantly reduced.
"There is a performance drop-off with any engine,” - Mercedes’ Team Principal Toto Wolff said - “It means that, even though we'll be racing with the engine until the end of the season, we'll certainly lose performance."
He then stated that the replacement of the Power Unit in Brazil was the last of the season. The remaining races are, in fact, few, the F1 will travel to Qatar, then to Saudi Arabia, to finish in Abu Dhabi.
“We are going to the end of the season now with this engine,” he explained.
“We still have questions over reliability, but we hope we have had the right answers, and we’re going to the end.”
Mercedes trackside engineer director Andrew Shovlin explained that there were multiple reasons that made Mercedes change Hamilton’s PU in Brazil:
“There wasn’t a technical reason to change, as in we didn’t think we were at risk of failing and we don’t think we were at risk of failing, although these power units are running awfully hard and you can never take reliability for granted,” he said.
“There is an attraction to take a penalty at a sprint race because if you can win on a Saturday that is more points you can score and you can lessen a deficit. It was also a track that we hoped we could overtake at and recover positions, and we proved that in the last two days.
“Also you want to get these things in the pool because, when you get to Abu Dhabi, you are not going to get the advantage of it for more than a single race.
"So there are a number of reasons and it is never black and white, but on reflection we picked a good circuit to do it,” he concluded.