Williams reject altitude worries for Mercedes engines

Jon Wilde
George Russell's Williams during the United States GP. Austin October 2021.

George Russell's Williams passes a grandstand during the United States Grand Prix. Austin October 2021.

Williams say they are unconcerned about the prospect of the high altitude at the next two F1 races affecting the reliability of the Mercedes engines.

The grands prix in Mexico and Brazil will take place 2,285 and 800 metres above sea level respectively and with the thinner air, components such as the turbocharger and MGU-H have to work that much harder.

That could add further worries given three Mercedes-powered drivers incurred engine penalties at the last race alone for exceeding the number of permitted new parts for the season.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was forced to take a penalty for the third time in four races, dropping five places on the grid to ninth, while Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Williams’ George Russell both dropped to the back along with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.

But Dave Robson, Williams’ head of vehicle performance, insists he is not losing sleep over what the effect on engines might be in the two remaining American-based races of the 2021 season.

“It’s not a concern at the moment,” said Robson, quoted by Motorsport-total.com. “I don’t think the altitude will be a big problem for reliability. It will be fine – currently there are no worries.”

George Russell, Williams, on-track during Friday practice at the Dutch GP. September 2021.
George Russell in action for Williams during Friday practice at the Dutch Grand Prix. September 2021.

What Robson is keeping his focus on is making sure Williams are as competitive as possible, following the significant improvement they have made from the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards.

They have needed things to fall their way on occasions, but nevertheless the Grove-based team have collected 23 points over the last seven races to cement eighth position in the Constructors’ standings – where they are looking increasingly likely to finish.

“On a good day, we can catch the slower of the two Alpines and the slower of the two Aston Martins,” said Robson, who has seen George Russell score 16 points, in his final campaign before joining Mercedes, and Nicholas Latifi seven.

“We could normally beat [Yuki] Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] as well but he’s done quite well in the recent past, especially in qualifying. From that point of view, it was a bit more difficult.”


Robson hinted that in terms of overall pace, Williams are perhaps a touch flattered at being 16 points ahead of ninth-placed Alfa Romeo.

“We are currently ninth, sometimes eighth and then close to seventh,” he said. “Sometimes we do a good job and leave more cars behind than we should.”


Off-colour Williams have poor day in Austin

Despite George Russell climbing six places on the first lap, both he and Nicholas Latifi struggled for Williams.