Mercedes have confirmed that they weren’t running on full power in Abu Dhabi, but it wasn’t enough to influence the result.
The Silver Arrows looked a far cry from their usual dominant selves at Yas Marina Circuit as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took pole for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, going on to lead every lap to take victory.
Mercedes meanwhile had no answer, and in the closing stages Lewis Hamilton was even coming under threat from Alex Albon for the final place on the podium.
After the race Max Verstappen suggested Mercedes still had their engines turned down for the race, something which Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas denied knowing about, even though Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had confirmed it to be the case after qualifying.
And Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has confirmed that the Silver Arrows were running a “conservative” engine mode, though it wasn’t enough to influence the result in such a drastic way.
“I would say that rather than being acutely aware of a specific problem, we are operating the power unit in a way that is as conservative as we can be in order to try and avoid a problem,” he said, as quoted by Insideracing.com.
“But when you don’t understand exactly the string of issues, all you can do is just be a bit cautious.
“During the race, we were trying to reduce the duty marginally, but you’re right, the drivers wouldn’t have necessarily been aware of it.
“It was just something we were trying to manage in the background.
“[It was] not an amount that’s going to determine the race result, you’re talking significantly less than a tenth of a second, so not the difference between first and second.”
96 days 'till lights out in Australia. Not that we're counting or anything… 🙃 pic.twitter.com/hmAl7OoSXu
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) December 14, 2020
Wolff echoed Shovlin’s comments, saying Red Bull won the Abu Dhabi GP “fair and square”.
“Everybody has weaknesses and we weren’t on our ‘A-game’ this weekend, that’s simply a fact, and Red Bull won fair and square,” he said.
“You can see that also Albon had a very good race. They had a very good race car and it shows that when their car is in the right place, both drivers [can] do a really good job.
“Probably Albon’s pace was quicker than ours at the end so it could have ended even worse for us.
“We are leaving this race with a slap on the wrist.”