Mercedes haven’t had reliability problems with 2021 power unit – Wolff

2021 F1 season

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff downplayed reports their new power unit for the 2021 F1 season has suffered reliability problems.

Last month the head of Mercedes-Benz High Performance Powertrains Hywel Thomas referred to “some issues” with their engine in a video published by the team. This prompted speculation problems had arisen with the new M12 power unit which they and customers Aston Martin, McLaren and Williams will use this year.

Wolff rejected those claims during the team’s presentation of its new Formula 1 car on Tuesday.

“We didn’t have particular problems on reliability in the power unit,” he said. “Obviously, if you do long runs at peak power, there will be a lot of learning what gives up first. But it’s all under control.”

He added the team has made further progress in improving their heat management, which has been an occasional weakness during their dominantion of the turbo-hybrid era.

“We have had years where we struggled for cooling, where our pre-season simulations didn’t reflect precisely what was happening on the track. I think we’ve made a big step there.”

Teams have limited development opportunities with their latest power units. Once the season begins they will not be able to upgrade them again until next year, at which point a development freeze will come into force until the end of the current power unit regulations.

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Josh Holland
USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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17 comments on “Mercedes haven’t had reliability problems with 2021 power unit – Wolff”

  1. Oh marvellous… ‘”a big step”‘.

    Another season of total Mercedes domination ahead

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      5th March 2021, 10:49

      The big step is regarding simulations accurately reflecting how the engine will be cooled. Regardless of that, yes it will be another year of total Mercedes Domination. Absolutely 100% guaranteed. They’ve most likely already engraved “Hamilton” and “Mercedes” on the titles.

      The big question is how things work out in 2022. If Mercedes are as far ahead then than they are now, I’ll find something else to do on Sundays but I have faith that the new regs will close the field up a bit.

      1. Cooling issues are going to be worth keeping an eye out for with the tightening of the bodywork around the top of the PU, demonstrated by the bulges here and on the ‘reflected’ GM.

    2. @alloythere Well it’s up to Ferrari, Renault and Honda to take the fight to Mercedes.

      1. +1 given that Ferrari and Renault have had exactly the same number of years as Mercedes to deliver it just shows how poor they have been. Even Honda seem to have developed faster than those two appear to have.

        1. It’s up to everyone to understand that no one is going to catch Mercedes and no one is allowed to. Engine freeze? What chance does anyone have? None. End of story. I care not who agreed to it. I am sure Mercedes were happy to lock in that advantage. I can not wait for McLaren to have engine problems again when they eventually are allowed to compete. Does anyone else remember the convenient alternator failures? I do. It will be something else. I hope they prove me wrong. We will see.

  2. I guess “some issues” with the engine is as much as “some worries” they have had with strategy, with tyre wear etc in the past – things they lost some thought over to define the best way to solve them.

    And more often than not, this team has come up with very good solutions to those problems.

  3. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    5th March 2021, 11:06

    Would be interesting to know how much faster/more powerful these engines are compared to their 2014 cousins. In a laymen’s sense how much faster would the 2014 Merc go if you put in a 2021 engine.

    It’s obviously more complicated than that as packaging for aero is much improved also these days.

  4. I guess that’s the luxury you have if you’re so far ahead of the competition: an early start on next year’s developments, more time for reliability testing, which leads to being ahead of the competition…etcetera.

    1. I think this is essentially what’s been happening now for 7 seasons. Mercedes were so far ahead at the beginning of this turbo era that half way through the season they pretty much stop developing the car and focus almost entirely on next season.

      1. Not true for all seasons though: what about 2017? They weren’t that far ahead, and in 2018 they were even closer, 2018 was the only season where ferrari can be defined as good as mercedes, yet they fell further back in 2019.

  5. Toto *downplaing* a rumoured *disadvantage*. Now that’s a weird one. Is this good? bad? or less and more communication with your engineers?

    1. Could you repeat the question?

    2. I’d say it’s good, they normally downplay positive stuff, not negative.

  6. non story. mercs videos are the most interesting, they actually share tech snippets unfortunately non stories is what they get in return.

    1. Haven’t watched it yet but I did see a lede line about hidden features – expecting that to be floor edge features like another team … perhaps I’m jaded.

  7. It doesn’t bode well for the season when even the undisputed heavyweight sandbagging champions themselves downplay their issues.

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