Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Mercedes feared “instant kill” on both cars

2020 Austrian Grand Prix

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Mercedes were concerned Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas would both retire from the Austrian Grand Prix due to the technical problems they were managing.

Team principal Toto Wolff said “the situation was pretty serious right away from the start.”

“We saw it started with issues on Valtteri’s car,” he explained. “But it was something that can be an instant kill. And then it started on Lewis’s car.

“We didn’t really know what it was. We know that it was somehow linked to vibration and agitation of the car. And that’s why we advised them very early on to keep off the kerbs.

“At a certain stage, it looked like we would not finish the race with both cars. So we were trying to really cruise home.”

Wolff expects the team’s trackside reliability division will be able to solve the problem before next week.

He also denied the team issued any orders to its drivers during the race. Bottas was told “chassis two one” at one stage, an instruction which had echoes of Red Bull’s infamous “multi 21” instruction at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix.

“This has nothing to do with ‘multi 21’,” said Wolff. “We have never played that unless there was a problem on the car and we would never interfere in a fight in the first few races of a season.

“They were completely free to race each other. What we did, that we always on both cars, we gave them the same recommendations to stay off the kerbs and we switched the engine, because there was no competitor basically at a certain stage, we switched the engines to low mode to protect the power unit.

“But that was no, zero team orders. No hidden, no subtle and no direct.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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9 comments on “Mercedes feared “instant kill” on both cars”

  1. I really hope they know how to fix it

  2. I don’t see how you could stay off the curbs here. The worst of it was in 9-10 and staying off the curbs there plus on the infield section where you need to drive over a length of curbs to reach the turn in point would mean seconds off your lap time. If it’s a sensor issue not a mechanical defect I wonder if they have a way to override faulty sensors like on an aircraft. Just shut them off on the wheel.

  3. Mercedes bluffing as always, this is not new. On another serious note, what can the driver change in terms of settings of the car from the steering wheel a part from the usual settings (PU,ERS,Turbo,gearbox,oil,differential…) ? Never heard of anything related to the chassis.

    1. @tifoso1989 chassis sensor X. As opposed to engine, gearbox etc sensors. Just a mounting location.

  4. Mercedes trying to talk down their chances even when winning. 2010-2013 with RBR and 2014-2019 with Mercedes always seems to be teams winning against all odds.

  5. “Oh I scored a 9 on the test and didn’t even study” – Toto

  6. Chassis 2-1 “team order” was interesting!

    1. If it were a team order, it would have been “chassis 77-44”.

  7. Toto should have let HAM
    thru and have BOT hold up the field so HAM gets his 5 sec penalty covered. Merc 1-2.

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