Mercedes experienced by far the worst weekend of Formula One season 2019 with three and five places in Spielberg. For the first time neither Lewis Hamilton nor Valtteri Bottas were on the top stage of the podium, and for the first time this season one of the two was beaten not only by Ferrari but also by Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.
The cause of the bankruptcy was quickly found. At the hot temperatures on the Red Bull ring, the W10 had problems with cooling. In principle, the radiators of the car are not big enough,”says Chief Engineer Andrew Shovlin, explaining that in this respect the development of the bolt had been”a bit optimistic”
For the cooling systems of the W10 cool the bolts less than hoped, Shovlin says. Background: For aerodynamic reasons, Formula One teams always try to build their bolts as compact as possible. This also applies to the arrangement of the components in the car. Apparently Mercedes 2019 has a bit too high in this regard.
“In the very hot races we will have problems keeping everything cool enough,” Shovlin admits. The main aim is not to damage the sensitive drive by too much heat. Because engine damage would be twice as bitter. First of all, because it would shut you out of the race. And secondly, because then you might not get through the season with three engines.
cooling currently the “Achilles version” of the W10
This would then lead to grids again. For this reason Mercedes did not take any risks in Spielberg. This is how the cooling outlets at the W10 were opened as far as possible.” When you get to this point, the options are very limited,”Shovlin explains. Because that alone was not enough, Hamilton and Bottas also had to go straight ahead of the braking point from the gas.
“Lift and Coast” means this measure, which ensures that the engine is not overloaded for a few meters and can cool something like this down. Of course, it also loses lap time. According to Shovlin, in Spielberg, the two pilots were required to apply this measure to “approximately 400 meters per lap”. This would have been a “significant limitation”.
Cooling vs. Performance
Additionally there was the possibility to turn the engine down by itself. This means that it does not develop so much heat, but you also have less power and are slower on the straight,”Shovlin explains. In other words, it was not possible for Mercedes in Austria to provide the required cooling without relinquishing some of the performance.
Incidentally, this problem was not unexpected. Shovlin reveals that solutions have already been worked on before Austria. The question is not how or if, but we will respond. There is no other option,”team leader Toto Wolff announces and says with an eye to the upcoming race:”Now I hope for truly typical British weather in Silverstone.”
The cooling is currently the”Achilles version”of the W10. According to Wolff, the air temperatures were already at the “limit” in Le Castellet. In Austria this was then exceeded.” We had no problems so far,”Hamilton recalls, adding,”I don’t know which hot lines are coming now. Budapest or other routes.”
Hamilton: Problems”not on many routes”
“I don’t think we will have problems on many routes, but definitely on one or two more, maybe Mexico,”the World Champion ponders. With regard to his home race in Silverstone, he explains: “Our car should be good there. The good news for him is that there is a maximum of 20 degrees expected at the weekend.
This does not mean that Mercedes will have similar problems there as in Spielberg. Wolff also recalls that the next races will have “completely different layouts” and that there will be “completely different weather.” I hope we will return to our strengths,”says the Austrian. But according to his nature Wolff still remains cautious.
Wolff praises Ferrari
Although the silver arrows still have their nose clear in the World Cup even after Spielberg. But Wolff explains that the season could have gone quite differently.” I think Ferrari has somehow lost the momentum they had in Bahrain,”he explains and recalls:”They had the fastest car and should have won the race with Leclerc.”
And Bahrain was not the only race in which Ferrari remained below expectations.” Charles [Leclerc] was the fastest in Baku before his crash in qualifying, and Sebastian [Vettel] led in Montreal before his sentence,”Wolff notes. In his opinion, therefore, the situation in the World Cup could have looked completely different if Ferrari had made better use of his opportunities.
Reality speaks a different language. In the driver’s valuation Hamilton with 197 points clearly ahead of Bottas (31 points delay), Max Verstappen (71) and Vettel (74). Mercedes sat 135 points in front of Ferrari’s closest tracker. Despite the difficult race in Spielberg, it is hard to imagine losing this lead.