After qualifying, everyone expected a Mercedes clean sweep, especially with Valtteri Bottas on pole and Lewis Hamilton at P2. Unfortunately, 24 hours later, everything unraveled, starting with Hamilton’s penalty.
As it turned out, that was merely the tip of the iceberg, as both cars encountered gearbox problems. It got to a stage where the team had to tell both drivers to avoid the kerbs. According to an internal investigation, the issues arose due to a build-up of ‘electrical noise’.
Fortunately, Bottas and Hamilton managed to nurse the cars to a win and 4th place respectively. Recently, Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director, Andrew Shovlin spoke to the F1 Nation podcast about their version of events.
Curiously, he revealed that the team was not particularly surprised at the development.
Shovlin noted that Bottas encountered an issue at the end of one of the practice sessions. Already, Mercedes knew that they were in for a tough race, especially since it flared up again on Saturday.
He said, “It’s not manifesting itself as one thing, no they are related it’s basically a build-up of electrical noise that starts to interfere with the various systems so with Valtteri we saw that halfway through the race, got progressively worse, with Lewis it appeared later. But it’s electrical noise that’s then affecting a lot of different things.”
Shovlin also believed that the Red Bull Ring’s chunky kerbs, high altitude, and warm weather contributed to the problem. In his words, Austria is a ‘really horrible circuit for the cars’.
At least in Austria, it is difficult to overtake so they could afford to look after the car without losing too much ground.
Turning his attention to this weekend’s race, Shovlin is confident that the team can get to the bottom of the problem. Even Mercedes’ Team Principal, Toto Wolff had faith in his engineering team in solving the issue.
Wolff concluded, “What I understand is that there are solutions that we can at least improve the situation. Austria is for sure stressing these parts on the car most in all of the season.
“So if we find a way around of protecting the car next weekend, we should be fine. I think we have ideas.”