Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Singapore, 2014

“Contamination” caused Rosberg’s Singapore failure

2014 Singapore Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Singapore, 2014Mercedes have shed new light on the problem which forced Nico Rosberg to retire from the Singapore Grand Prix.

The team revealed on Twitter that “Forensic analysis has revealed that the steering column electronic circuits were contaminated with a foreign substance.”

“The contamination was not visible and did not manifest itself until Sunday as Nico went to the grid,” the team added. “The result was an intermittent short circuit in the electronic circuits meaning Nico Rosberg could not command clutch or engine settings.”

“Fresh parts will be used at the forthcoming races. Our hard work on reliability processes will continue at the same intensive level.”

Rosberg’s retirement was his second and the fifth for Mercedes this year, all bar one of which were directly caused by technical failures. He lost the championship lead to team mate Lewis Hamilton, who won the race.

Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff said the team were trying to get on top of their technical problems and does not want them to interfere with the outcome of the drivers’ championship.

“These things take time to get a grip on – but we will not stop until we stop suffering these DNFs,” he said. “We have had four of them now and it would not be satisfying at all to have the championship decided because one car let the driver down.

“We need to refocus, get our heads down and keep concentrating on preventing these reliability problems reoccurring.”

Mercedes later added the contaminant was “a substance used in normal pre-event servicing of the component”.

2014 Singapore Grand Prix

Browse all 2014 Singapore Grand Prix articles

Image © Singapore GP/Sutton

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

55 comments on ““Contamination” caused Rosberg’s Singapore failure”

  1. And waiting for conspiracy theories in 3..2..1..

    Jokes a side, it shows how much of a fine detail these cars are if something so small and seemingly so insignificant could do such damage.

    1. There’s a LOT of connections, AFAIK. It doesn’t take much conductive material to make a short somewhere. Carbon fibre is an excellent conductor, and if you’ve ever worked with the stuff, you’ll know that carbon fibre dust can get in everywhere.

    2. Imagine if it had happened to Hamilton instead of Rosberg. Or to Webber last year, haha.

    3. Roscoe contaminated the circuits

      1. I blame the quiet exhaust noise:
        ROS.” this squeak in the steering is driving me crazy, I cant concentrate on my driving , can you do any thing about it ?”
        JUNIOR MECH. ” Of course Herr Rosberg, I can fix anything, a little graphite powder will fix it.”

        1. A few puffs of graphite powder works magic on a Pinewood Derby car. Obviously you would think it would make an F1 car really fly. he he

    4. someone probobaly spilled a cup of coffee on it…..

      Coffeegate!

      1. @leggacy

        Ah, that comment was the perfect way to start a Saturday!

  2. Didn’t know Nigel Stepney worked at Mercedes now…

    1. Comment of the year! :-D

    2. As a ghost then since he has left us.

  3. Sounds a bit suspicious , those cars are assembled under sterile conditions .Maybe Lewis had something to do with this , just saying .

    1. Yes… I’m sure Lewis snuck into the high security strongholds of the Mercedes base on Saturday night to sabotage Nico’s car.

      NEW JUST IN: Lewis is actually a ninja.

        1. Why are comments like yours approved? The add nothing to the discussion.

  4. Oh dear, Rosberg, you must have offended some thug.

  5. what kind of foreign substance?

    1. My guess would have been carbon fibre dust, as I wrote above. However, Autosport says it’s some kind of pre-event servicing substance, that they’ve used since 2008.

    2. Not German, obviously :)

      1. The driver, or the substance?

    3. Mercedes have now said it was something they use when servicing the component between races – have updated the article.

      1. My money is on WD40.

        1. A lubricant with graphite in it would do the trick.

      2. Many solvents and oils can break down some insulation plastics. It is possible that they have used the wrong wiring.

  6. That’s why drivers have to be nice to everyone on the team. Offend a mechanic and you get a “foreign substance” in your steering column. Offend the team cook, and you got a “foreign substance” in your lunch.

  7. There is no conspiracy going on here.

    Frankly, it’s clumsy unreliability issues causing Mercedes problems. If they’re not careful, a certain Aussie’s smile will explode in total glee and sweep up at this Godsend. And, the mistakes by the drivers (nothing dodgy about their errors!) haven’t helped either.

    Saying all this, seems like this steering rack issue is very easily to slip through the system you know, so I will refuse to criticise the team this once. And from a pH7 viewpoint… This championship has electrified! No pun intended!

  8. And that’s why you go for a pee before you get in the car…

  9. Seems a bit not-joined-up to use a contaminant in servicing a component??

    I daresay there’s more to it, but still…

    1. A contaminant is simply something that’s where it shouldn’t be. Like butter in the jam pot if you didn’t clean the knife first.

  10. Nico reacts to Mercedes findings:

    “DAAAMMMMITT!!”

    1. Haha maybe he jammed the steering wheel when screamed “Dammit” after Quali.

  11. A little dash of Vaseline on a connection does wonders for your opponent. Hmmm makes you wonder about ole Toto and his Machiavellian ways trying to take Rosberg out of it while trying to appear neutral.

  12. Hope it wasn’t chewing gum or someone’ll be doing time.

    Any news on what happened to Bottas’ steering late in the race? Any connection to this?

    1. Wasn’t Bottas just squirming around because he’d worn away all of the compound on his tyres and was down to the base rubber that provides nearly no grip?

      1. He was reporting heavy steering & lack of feel (in the radio transcript) as early as lap 35, so the tyres would’ve still had plenty of life in them.

        I wish TV had played those messages (or at least the commentators passed them on) as his strategy makes more sense – with dodgy steering, even with fresh tyres, he couldn’t have made the moves Vergne did.

  13. Really interesting, great that Mercedes decided to make this public.

    1. Yeah, the more complicated the systems the more foreign/strange/new are the problems that can arise. They’ll be thrilled that at least they found the problem and mystery solved.

    2. @andae23 It seems that Mercedes has embraced “transparency” as a philosophy this year. However, things like this are just going to stir people that are extremely passionate about Rosberg or Hamilton, so not sure it is really helpful to anyone. But full credit, Merc believe in their stance and are sticking with it.

    3. +1.

      It is good of Mercedes to share with us just how dependent an F1 car is on every team member. All the (now banned) team radio was good for the same reason.

      It sounds as if Mercedes could learn from the aviation industry, where every unserviceable part has a big red ribbon hung from it until it is fixed. That way a pilot can walk round the plane and quickly spot if it is not ready to go.

  14. Oh to be low paid/unpaid intern mechanic’s assistant who was told to clean some dust from the steering column…

  15. Nico only has himself to blame – over doing it with the hair spray !

  16. why not just say they spilled coffee on it

  17. Formula Indonesia (@)
    27th September 2014, 6:44

    what substance??

    1. “a substance used in normal pre-event servicing of the component”.

  18. Alright….. dont wanna jump to any conclusions. This whole situation smells a bit fishy to me.

  19. Contamination …did I hear “Discipline”

    Interestingly I was looking back at 2008 Singapore GP. On the race report article in the F1 Fanatic Forum, a fan said that the Nelson Piquet crash might have been orchestrated. Lot of People made fun of him :) Looking back I am having a good laugh at people who think they know everything about F1 and make fun of others . Even if it is a conspiracy theory, give that a due respect.. After all it is an opinion. None of us know what actually happens behind the screens in those garages !!!!! While some might feel they are the learned one; in truth i actually i feel really sorry for them and I am having a good laugh at those “I know all” fans.

    For Fun reading … The comment stating Piquet might have done it intentionally.
    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2008/09/28/fernando-alonsos-bad-luck-turns-good-for-win-2008-singapore-grand-prix/comment-page-2/#comment-217592

    Responses to the Comment
    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2008/09/28/fernando-alonsos-bad-luck-turns-good-for-win-2008-singapore-grand-prix/comment-page-2/#comment-217595
    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2008/09/28/fernando-alonsos-bad-luck-turns-good-for-win-2008-singapore-grand-prix/comment-page-2/#comment-217610

    The last comment of the topic is also a bit of irony
    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2008/09/28/fernando-alonsos-bad-luck-turns-good-for-win-2008-singapore-grand-prix/comment-page-7/#comment-284100

  20. Contamination …errr ahem ahem “Discipline”

    Interestingly I was looking back at 2008 SGP GP. On the race report article in the F1 Fanatic Forum, a fan named @Mahesh said that the Nelson Piquet crash might have been orchestrated. Lot of People ridiculed him :) There was a lot of talk about karma et all…. Looking back I am having a good laugh at people who think they know everything about F1 and ridicule others . Even if it is a conspiracy theory, give that a due respect.. After all it is an opinion. None of us know what actually happens behind the screens in those garages !!!!! While some might feel they are the learned one and they go ahead and ridicule others, in truth i actually i feel really sorry for them and I am having a good laugh at these “I know all”

    For Fun reading … [ @Mahesh ‘s Comment ] stating Piquet might have done it intentionally.
    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2008/09/28/fernando-alonsos-bad-luck-turns-good-for-win-2008-singapore-grand-prix/comment-page-2/#comment-217592

    @Paty ‘s rebuttal of @Mahesh ‘s Comments
    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2008/09/28/fernando-alonsos-bad-luck-turns-good-for-win-2008-singapore-grand-prix/comment-page-2/#comment-217595
    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2008/09/28/fernando-alonsos-bad-luck-turns-good-for-win-2008-singapore-grand-prix/comment-page-2/#comment-217610

    The last Ominous comment of the topic by @Hatebreeder
    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2008/09/28/fernando-alonsos-bad-luck-turns-good-for-win-2008-singapore-grand-prix/comment-page-7/#comment-284100

  21. Probably lighter fluid from Nico’s Zippo.

  22. I am sure this is not the end of reliability problems, let’s wait for Hamilton’s loose wheel after the pit stops.

  23. Nico spilled juice from his sippy cup into the steering rack.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.