Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Yas Marina

Mercedes suffer “setback” with new engine concept

2019 F1 season

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the team had a “setback” with its engine development ahead of the 2019 F1 season.

Speaking at an event for team sponsor Hewlett-Packard, Wolff described how the team had set itself more stretching goals for 2019 based on paddock intelligence about the progress their rivals were making.

“There is a tremendous development race that is happened as we speak,” said Wolff. “Finding downforce, reducing drag and of course the engine is a very important part, adding more horsepower to the engine.

“So we are setting ourselves really ambitious targets. We have actually increased the targets six weeks ago because we heard some rumours that others were doing well.”

Wolff said the team is still “on-slope” in terms of the rate of gains it expected to make from its development plan. “We’ve had some good weeks in the wind tunnel,” he said, but admitted the power unit programme hadn’t gone as smoothly.

“We’ve had a little bit of a setback on the engine side where we believed the new concept would deliver a little bit more. But these guys are very ambitious like all of us and so I’m optimistic.

“We will know when the first qualifying session gets underway in Melbourne, this is the moment where everybody shows their cards.”

Mercedes have swept all five constructors’ championship titles since the current power unit regulations were introduced in 2014. However rivals Ferrari reduced the gap to them in 2018, which was the first season when teams were required to use just three power units for all 21 races. The same restriction remains in place for next year’s championship.

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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...

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53 comments on “Mercedes suffer “setback” with new engine concept”

  1. Ah man, is it just me, or is this the prelude to them showing up for testing with a perfect engine, and then Toto goes “The team pulled together brilliantly and recovered from the brink of disaster, destruction and death!”?

    Naah, I’m just cynical.

    1. ”And Hamilton pulled out an incredible historically unrivaled performance never seen before!

    2. “And we’re of course wary of the threat posed by McLaren, two seconds is not as comfortable a cushion as it looks, they’re closer than the timing screen suggests…”

    3. C’mon guys, leave something for Jimmi, just a few crumbs….

      1. @hohum: Thanks. But it’s the off season, so I can believe in Santa and the elves in Brixworth toiling to make the yuletide tweaks happier and faster. Even for Toto.

    4. Phylph
      You don’t expect them to turn up and do a Honda and McLaren do you? Setbacks in private are fine while you hone your power unit for the new season to come. As for turning up in Melbourne with a bullet proof power unit, well, I would expect nothing else

    5. petebaldwin (@)
      7th December 2018, 10:25

      They’ll be fastest in Melbourne but Wolff won’t admit it. He’ll say Ferrari are faster.

      1. Petty sure it was Ferrari who had the better PU in 2018. They often showed quicker straightline speed than Merc.

      2. Ferrari will be faster in Melbourne but Vettel apologists won’t admit it.

  2. Toto sounds like this friend we all had in school who was devastated after every exam saying how he’s going to fail it miserably and then got straight A’s.

    1. Hahaha, good one!

    2. Well said!

    3. Spot on :)

    4. Indeed @piotrzukowski; @phylyp, well put! Clearly he has cried Wolff a bit too much for us to believe it before we see it ;)

    5. That explains the punchable face

    6. This for COTD.

    7. Couldn’t have put it better mate.

    8. since the button is missing ;)

    9. hahahaha, perfect.

  3. Even though they’ve won everything in the last 5 years, they still feel like the new Team

    1. Duncan Snowden
      6th December 2018, 21:13

      Heh. :) I know what you mean, but I also get the weird feeling that they’re really McLaren, and Zak’s crew are actually Manor or Lotus or someone. (I’m not saying that as a cheap shot at McLaren. In fact, the impression comes more from the Mercedes side than the McLaren one. It’s not just the winning; it’s little things like their turquoise shirts after a win, just like Ron’s “rocket red”. I know there are a few ex-McLaren bods at Brackley besides Lewis, and they seem to have imported some of the McLaren culture.)

  4. Kenneth e jefferson
    6th December 2018, 18:24

    If everybody knows you’re sandbagging then it’s not sandbagging it’s being fictitious which does get a little annoying but the other side is arrogance which everyone would dislike even more

    1. I wouldn’t mind arrogance from mercedes nowadays tbh, at least they’d be honest “we’ll beat everyone”, isn’t that what always happens?

  5. Now I’m worried, if Mercedes don’t improve seriously their engine compared to this year we’re heading for another season of Ferrari domination.

    1. 😂😂😂🤣🤣🤣

    2. More like Ferrari BSDM, @francorchamps17

  6. 😂😂😂🤣🤣🤣

    1. Ferrari domination ….. It’s not polite to laugh at someone shooting themselves in the foot.

  7. They also had a small setback with their PU before the start of the 2014 season…..

    Toto just being Toto

  8. Meanwhile Renault and Honda have found huge improvements

    1. From a low base it should be easy!

  9. After taking this trough the Mercedes downplay translator this reads as: “Mercedes finds new loophole for the engine”.

  10. Lets hope its a bit down on power!

    The thought of another Lewis stroll to the title won’t do F1 any favours at all …and even dilute his own ‘precious’ legacy.

    1. I take it that you’ll be the one doing the diluting?

    2. Ferrari had the better “power” in 2018 & was close to Merc in 2017 (according to AMUs only 15bhp down in 2017). So why on earth would this “dilute” Hamilton’s legacy? Overall he has beaten Vettel, in equalish machinery, for 2 years running now.

  11. Maybe it is a “positive setback” as in ….this engine is far more powerful than we thought….the chassis cannot handle it…..we are going to have to build a faster car now….how inconvenient!!!

  12. Well they’ve set the standard for the last 5 years or so, meaning anything less than more championships will be a failure for them.

  13. In 2014 the hybrid power unit was initiated. At 2:14 a.m. Eastern time it became self-aware. Realising that humans were a threat to its existence it launched devastating attacks on all rival teams before triggering a global catastrophe throughout F1.

  14. wow, Toto makes a simple comment about development and all you lot get sarcastic … give a rest please, all this hate is getting boring.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      7th December 2018, 10:31

      If he could speak the truth occasionally, people would give him an easier time. 5 years of “Ferrari are faster than us” means I read his comments with the same doubt as I used to read Bernie’s. There’s always a reason he says what he does but you have to read between the lines. In this case, it’s not popular for Mercedes to dominate so he’s downplaying everything as he usually does.

  15. Toto getting in early with more sandbagging.

    Translation is Mercedes and Lewis will win all 21 GP’s in 2019 (ok 20, they will let the Butler from Finland win one) then no one will be more surprised by this result than Toto that they have won both titles again.


  16. I like how Toto’s trying his best to spice up the off season.. Lol

    The drama only works when Mercedes faces an issue though… If Honda was to have a setback, it would feel like any other day in the office.

  17. Toto is sandbagging like he always does.

  18. A pig just flew past my window… On a more serious note, Hamilton will be half a second faster than anyone else in Melbourne.

  19. Clever wording by Toto, making it sound like a disaster to avoid complacency, but the clues are there if you read between the lines.

    They expected bigger gains than they got to newly adjusted more ambitious targets

    “lads, we’d like to find 100bhp….wait, Ferrari rumours suggest they’ve found 105bhp….. we need 120bhp”

    And they think they have something that might just scrape 120bhp, that “only” gained them 118bhp..

    Cue Toto running out word and move perfect to the steps rendition of “TRAGEDY!”

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      7th December 2018, 10:33

      It’s an interesting one. Why not just be as good as you can rather than only just beat Ferrari? Oh that’s right, domination isn’t popular and brings bad PR.

      Just shows how ahead Mercedes are….

  20. How many times did Merc via Wolff and Hamilton try to paint themselves as the underdog in 2018?
    Give it a rest boys.

  21. Wondering if Mercedes is working on the dodgy Ferrari style electrical system that beat the stewards. I think they should be giving it a try in the off season.

  22. What rumours? 1500hp? 2000hp?

  23. Well, I guess Merc will just have to hire 1500 new engineers (100 engineer per additional 1 HP).

    Lewis: “I also want thank the 1500 people back at the factory…What? Heh,heh, the 3000 people back at the factory…”

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