New components for Mercedes to address gearbox

Mark Scott
Lewis Hamilton black Mercedes W11 kerbs.jpg

Lewis Hamilton black Mercedes W11 kerbs.jpg

Toto Wolff says Mercedes has an update in place that they hope will improve their gearbox reliability situation in Austria.

Both Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, were both instructed on numerous occasions to stay off the kerbs at the Red Bull Ring as they were causing issues with the Silver Arrows’ gearbox sensors throughout the race.

The problem was so severe that Mercedes feared they would join rivals Red Bull in finishing the opening race with a double DNF but Valtteri Bottas was able to nurse his car home to victory while Hamilton finished P4 once his five-second penalty for causing a collision with Alex Albon was enforced.

Mercedes’ motorsport strategy director, James Vowles, said the team were working around the clock to resolve the issue ahead of the second race in Austria and Wolff has confirmed that has resulted in new components being ready to implement.

“The result of the first race looks good on paper, but the reality is that we were fortunate to finish the race,” Wolff said in his Styrian Grand Prix preview.

“Reliability caused us real concern and it is something we are working on as our highest priority.

“In a shorter season with a yet to be determined number of races, every point counts, so we need to improve quickly on that front.

“Our main problems were with the electrical components of the gearbox, caused by the aggressive kerbs in Spielberg.

“We first noticed the issue on Friday and immediately started working on mitigations for the next races, both at the factory and at the track. We will run new components this weekend to improve the situation.”

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Formula 1 fans were treated to an action-packed race in Austria after a seven-month absence and Wolff is expecting more excitement for round two.

He added: “Valtteri showed a strong performance last weekend, controlling the race and staying ahead at the Safety Car restarts.

“Lewis did a good job fighting through the field and was unfortunate with his five-second penalty; he will use the opportunity to set things straight when we return to the track.

“I’m looking forward to another race in Austria this weekend. It’s unique to be racing in my home country on consecutive weekends, and a testament to all the hard work that has gone into the new protocols that enable us to go racing.

“The first grand prix of the season was a real nail-biter which delivered to the fans who had to wait so long for F1 to restart. With just a few days between the two events, there are still plenty of unknowns – and I think we can expect another exciting race.”

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