Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2020

Mercedes say they ran engines “as conservative as we can” due to MGU-K failures

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Mercedes have confirmed concerns over reliability led them to reduce the strain on their power units during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The team’s head of trackside operations Andrew Shovlin said the effect on their cars’ performance was minor, and their drivers would not necessarily have noticed it. Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas said after the race they were not aware whether their engines had been “turned down”.

Shovlin said the steps were taken in response to recent MGU-K failures on Mercedes power units. Sergio Perez retired late in the Bahrain Grand Prix with such a problem and dropped out early in today’s race with a fault which also appeared to be related to the MGU-K.

However Shovlin admitted Mercedes did not fully understand the problem they were facing and therefore could only take broad measures to prevent it recurring.

“It’s not fully understood yet but there have been failures related to the K on Mercedes engines in the last couple of events,” he said. “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.

“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.

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

However Shovlin doubts the team’s problem with its engines made the difference in its fight for victory with Red Bull.

“[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.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Browse all 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...

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

38 comments on “Mercedes say they ran engines “as conservative as we can” due to MGU-K failures”

  1. Makes sense. There really wasn’t much gain by going a few tenths faster anyway. And it would be stupid to risk a failure for that.

    1. It is hard to believe (and accept) how boring F1 has become in the hybrid era. Even when Mercedes doesn’t win, actually they did if they hadn’t turned down their engine. Everyone loses but Mercedes. Even Lewis himself loses since the car so strongly diminishes his (still stellar) performance as shown by Russell. And then to think that next year will be a copy of this year….

      1. You’re wrong… Max did 33 laps faster than 1:41,5 and Bottas(15) and Hamilton (8) did far less laps that fast. If the difference between the normal setting and “turned down” setting in laptime is less than 0,1 seconds they would have been a little bit closer but not much.

        This is logical as the pace was determined by the strain they put on the tyre not by the performance of the engine. The whole race was about not overdriving the tyres. How else do you think the Renault of Ricciardo managed to post the fastest lap? All the cars could have managed faster laps if they could have used more of the tyres.

      2. Just think, how many times their turned Botas engine down, without telling him

  2. Wonder if/what they told Williams and RP.

  3. So, there is a room for improvement even for Mercedes team.

  4. Why is it that most of the technical media can’t seem to get the semantics right.
    Headline -Ran engines conservative.
    In the first line of the article “reduce the strain on their power units “.

    So as usual they mixed up engine – or rather ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) and the WHOLE Power Unit of the ICE, MGU-H, MGU-K, control units etc.

    I would assume what they really did was reduce the “Unlimited” power of the MGU-K to drive the transmission from the ES (Energy Store) or to charge it up again. The ICE was left as it was for power.
    I’d even throw in the interesting technical fact that the ERS is restricted by the ES only having a maximum ENERGY of 4MJ and charged, (from MGU-H and MGU-K) at 2MJ per lap (rear flashing lights)

    1. Mguk is not “unlimited” in power, it is limited at 120kw. Also, the amount of ENERGY from the mguh directly to the mguk is unlimited. The rear flashing lights dont always come on while the mguh is charging the ES, only when the mguk is registering a negative torque.

  5. That was ingenious from Toto and the crew. But doing that they achieved lots of objectives:
    They gave RBR and Honda some hope so they don’t have to work that hard…
    They showed Lewis that without the team he can’t make things happen. This will help him sign for less I’m sure.
    They gave F1 and Liberty some diversity at the top podium, so they stop the funny ideas of performance leveling.
    Now everyone goes to winter break happy, until next year when they’ll find out that Mercedes has 1sec in the bag.

    1. We can only hope that’s a fact. LOL!

      1. No idea why anyone would hope for that. As we have seen recently, it makes F1 boring when Mercedes don’t severely fumble.

    2. Or …
      They turned down their engines, in turn losing their biggest advantage they’ve had on Red Bull
      They’ve stopped car development early on to focus on 2021, so they were bound to lose a little pace to rivals
      Max maximised his opportunity against an under confident Bottas and COVID returning Lewis

    3. They gave RBR and Honda some hope so they don’t have to work that hard…

      If you honestly think that they won’t work as hard because of this, you’re crazy

    4. I think you’re overthinking this a little bit

  6. Maybe I’m being mean, but I can’t imagine Bottas going wheel to wheel and battling Verstappen for the win even if he had full power. Today he looked like Max’s wingman.

    1. If merc on full power, and if MV drive for merc, he will become WDC. Any talented young driver would win alot if drive for merc. Russel proved it already. its not the driver, but its the car alot faster than other. Even slower Bottas can fly with merc. just imagine if drivers like MV, CL, SV, Alonso drive for merc, easy win for sure. Even Russel not as fast as LH can win easily, so what say you?

      1. Russell is a brilliant driver, only one of 2 drivers to win back to back world championship in F3 and F2.

      2. DOD Russell run a completely new PU in Sakhir?

  7. Not quite sure why they would be concerned about engine failure.
    Last race of the season and they have the championships tied up.
    What am I missing?

    1. Second place for Bottas in the drivers championship.

    2. Bottas needs 2nd WDC and Lewis a podium to tie another MSc record. SC change the whole thing. Otherwise Bottas could undercut Max and Lewis go long. Either one of Mercedes can have a shot at winning.

  8. No idea why anyone would hope for that. As we have seen recently, it makes F1 boring unless Mercedes severely fumble.

    1. @ho3n3r The races where Verstappen/Red Bull fumbles are usually rated quite highly though. Like Austria, Monza, Tuscan, Turkey, Sakhir

      1. @f10clown

        Oh man, how stupid can you be…….”Sakhir”
        Yeah right, that race will go down in the history book as a race where RBR/Ver fumbled.

        And Monza………is that the race where a certain Mercedes driver was dumb enough to throw away a win by entering a closed pitlane?

        Austria, the one were a certain Mercedes driver crashed into a RBR driver?

        And you sure we will remember Tuscan for RBR “fumbling up” or the biggest SC restart crash ever?

        Thank you for, once again, exposing yourself as a hate driven nitwit who can’t seem to stop making a fool of himself :D

        See you in 2021, Krxx

        (btw, the race voted best race of the previous decade….Germany 2019…..remember RBR fumbling that one?)

        1. That one was like spin to win if I recall: verstappen spun and won, vettel should learn from him! Loved that race.

        2. Or Turkey 2020 where a “certain RB driver fumbled”, “a certain Merc driver” showed he was class of the field and wrapped up WDC No7 in style? I’m mean “how stupid can YOU be”. Just saying.

  9. @f10clown

    Oh man, how stupid can you be…….”Sakhir”
    Yeah right, that race will go down in the history book as a race where RBR/Ver fumbled.

    Thank you for, once again, exposing yourself as a hate driven nitwit who can’t seem to stop making a fool of himself :D

    See you in 2021, Krxx

    (btw, the race voted best race of the previous decade….Germany 2019…..remember RBR fumbling that one?)

    1. Germany 2019… voted best race of the last decade by who? Those who’ve watched F1 since 2018? It was a good race but the best?

      1. Check the score on the votes, I was present and indeed, was the best voted since several years.

  10. It was a solid result for Max, I wish we’d had more of a fight at the front but sadly that was not the case. It did look as though the “best of the rest” were going to have some good fights but the race settled into a procession pretty quickly.

    It’s good that Red Bull can enter the end-of-season with a great result, it’ll be interesting to see what decisions they make regarding their second seat, the truth is that given such a pace advantage – they should have had 2 cars on the podium.

  11. Mercedes at 80% and Lewis at 80% and still Red Bull (and Bottas) can only just beat them. Sums up 2020 pretty nicely.

    1. Or you could say that Hamilton couldn’t fight Verstappen in a similar (or slightly slower at worst) car. Now let’s do a few years with Hamilton in RB and Max in Mercedes and see how they compare.

      1. Sadly for you that’s not how F1 works.
        Max the chance to become a Merc driver and turned it down for an RB seat. Your reap what you sow.

  12. They’re like a black hole, no excitement escapes. They either thrash everyone or do nothing in traffic when they are behind. My mind bends as much as a black hole bends time wondering what life would be like with v10s and no Mercedes. It is always so I guess but you can dream.

    Hopefully the move to biofuel will at least bring some noise back. Everyone in the pits, all the drivers and all the fans with any soul looked on wistfully as that v10 roared round. Nothing perfect about that era but the noise was.

  13. the modding on this site is crazy. I said ZERO offensive to anyone and its awaiting mod for 5 houra. Absolute over the top apron strings mother hen etc etc.

  14. I’m not sure what detuning the engine has got to do with the MGU-K, which is part of the braking system.

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'.