Mercedes F1 Explain Reason Behind Turning Down Their Engines in the Abu Dhabi GP

Published 12/14/2020, 6:32 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 13, 2020 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action after the race Pool via REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed


Powerhouse Mercedes did not have the best of outings in Abu Dhabi. For the first time this season, a Mercedes-powered car did not take pole, and instead, Max Verstappen grabbed that honor. Japanese manufacturer Honda supplies the engine for his Red Bull car.

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This dominance carried over to the race where Verstappen took home just his second victory of the season. It’s always surprising when the Brackley-outfit fail to cross the checkered flag first.

Here, a potential failure of MGU-K unit of the engine might have contributed to that. Mercedes’ head of trackside engineer, Andrew Shovlin, explained the issue.

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“It’s not fully understood yet but there have been failures related to the K on Mercedes engines in the last couple of events. I would say that rather than being acutely aware of a specific problem, we are operating the power unit in a way that’s as conservative as we can be in order to try and avoid a problem.”

Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Third placed Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during the press conference after the race FIA/Handout via REUTERS

The season finale in the desert also was heartbreaking for Sergio Perez. The Mexican, running his final race with Mercedes-powered Racing Point, suffered an engine failure in the race. His car was already fitted with a new-spec pre-race, and this failure alerted the Mercedes pit wall.

“When you don’t understand exactly the string of issues all you can do is just be a bit cautious. So during the race we were trying to reduce the duty marginally.”

Insignificant problem did not affect Mercedes in Abu Dhabi

However, Shovlin thinks that it did not dampen the race for Hamilton and Bottas. He believes that the drivers barely noticed it.

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“The drivers wouldn’t have necessarily been aware of it. It was just something we were trying to manage in the background.

“[It was] small, not an amount that’s going to determine the race result. You’re talking significantly less than a tenth of a second [per lap] so not the difference between first and second.”

Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during practice Bryn Lennon/Pool via REUTERS REFILE – CORRECTING BYLINE

This is just a minor blip for the dominant team. Their engines have been class-leading throughout the entirety of this turbo-hybrid era. Expect them to get on top of this issue and roar with their engines again next season.

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Bharat Aggarwal

755 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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