Mercedes has revealed more about the MGU-K problems which led it to run its power units more conservatively in last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.George Russell’s Williams, as well as Sergio Perez’s Racing Point, prompted Mercedes to ease the strain on their power units at Yas Marina.
“There were some issues with Perez in Bahrain that ultimately caused him to stop,” said the team’s head of strategy James Vowles in a video released by Mercedes. “We also had some awareness of issues with George during the Abu Dhabi weekend.”
Mercedes missed pole position for only the second time in 2020 last weekend, but Vowles said this was not connected to their engine problems.
“As a precaution we decided to detune some of the power settings on the MGU-K at certain points in the weekend only. To be clear, it didn’t affect our fastest laps in qualifying. That was us pushing to the maximum. We just weren’t quick enough on the tyres.”
However it did affect their performance on Sunday, where the two W11s were unable to mount a challenge to Verstappen, who won by over 15 seconds.
“In terms of the race itself, it was the systems or a number of ways of using the K that we used a little bit more sparingly,” Vowles explained. “The performance wasn’t dramatic, it was around about a tenth per lap and it wasn’t a system that we stopped using, we just used it less than we normally would.
“It is certainly not the reason why we lost the race either in qualifying or actually on Sunday. It was just a component as to why perhaps Red Bull pulled away a little bit more than we would have liked.”
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Verstappen beat Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton to pole position by less than a tenth of a second. Vowles believes the team failed to get the best out of the softest tyre in Pirelli’s range.
“It is a tricky little tyre to get into the right window and I don’t think we were absolutely spot-on in getting it perfectly aligned with the track and the conditions,” he said. “So I think in part that was the issue, we were a little bit slower.
“In fact, on Friday we did a lap with Lewis that was removed because he went outside of track limits, but it would have been quite a bit faster than what we achieved in qualifying. That’s just evidence that we didn’t have it quite all together for qualifying itself.”
“Ultimately, I just don’t think we performed at our best,” he concluded.
2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
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