Mercedes says it hopes its quick decision to retire Valtteri Bottas’ car at Formula 1’s Eifel Grand Prix means the Finn will avoid grid penalties across the remainder of 2020.
Mercedes introduced a fresh power unit for both W11s at the Nürburgring, leaving both Bottas and Lewis Hamilton with limited new penalty-free components for the remainder of the campaign.
Bottas led the early stages of the Eifel Grand Prix from pole position but dropped to third after an early pit stop, following a mistake at Turn 1, and then began to lose power.
Mercedes called him into the pits to retire the car shortly afterwards.
“At the end of the VSC period Valtteri complained of a lack of power,” explained Mercedes’ chief strategist James Vowles.
“We could see on the data that the MGU-H, the hybrid element of the car that produces electrical energy, but also turbo control, wasn’t working correctly.
“We tried a few switch changes with Valtteri which may bring these systems back, so through the steering wheel he could put a default code in that may bring back parts of the hybrid system.
“It was clear though that it had failed completely even after the switch changes and as a result we boxed the car and stopped it.
“The reason why we did that is we felt that the system failure wasn’t hardware but actually electronic and the sooner you stop it the less damage you are going to do to any of the systems and the more chance that we will take no penalties with Valtteri as a result.
“We’ve got a lot of checks to do and we will check the systems in Portimao but hopefully no further penalties will come as a result of this failure.”
Eventual winner Hamilton expressed concerns over his steering wheel on the reconnaissance lap and Vowles went on to clarify the situation.
“He had play within the steering column and the whole steering system was moving backwards and forwards just a small amount,” he said.
“This is a performance factor, as you are cornering you are trying to feel the limit of tyres, having any movement in the steering column whatsoever will cause you to not be sure whether it’s the car moving, the tyres moving or something else.
“However, it wasn’t a safety concern, at no time did we have any concern whatsoever for the system.
“It’s something we noticed on Saturday but the parc fermé regulations state that unless the component is broken you can’t replace it, which is why Lewis had to race with it and he did a great job considering the amount of difficult conditions we had in that race.”