Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2021

Mercedes “hanging on for dear life” with engine reliability problem

2021 United States Grand Prix

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Mercedes have been hit hard by reliability problems with their power units this year, team principal Toto Wolff admitted.

The team has fitted a new engine to Valtteri Bottas’s car for the sixth time this year ahead of this weekend’s race. It is his third new engine in four races, and means he will take a five-place grid penalty this weekend.

Lewis Hamilton took a 10-place grid penalty at the last race after he also exceeded the maximum allocation of power unit parts. Increasing numbers of Mercedes engine customers have taken penalties for the same reason, including Sebastian Vettel and George Russell this weekend.

“I think you see that we are suffering with with reliability this year,” Wolff admitted in today’s FIA press conference.

“We’re going onto the sixth engine for Valtteri and it’s not something that we choose to do. But on the contrary, we are trying to really get on top of the problems and we haven’t understood it fully.”

Wolff believes Mercedes are “a step closer now” to solving the problem. However, he said the manufacturer is “hanging on for dear life and supplying all customers and that is not trivial.”

“I wouldn’t want to disclose what [the problem] is, for obvious reasons,” he added, “but it is always a concern.”

“We push the performance every year and this year we’ve come to a point where that has cost us points. But over the last seven or eight years, that mindset has won us races and championships. We would’ve hoped to [take] less penalties and use less engines. But this year it has really hit us hard.

“McLaren and Aston Martin were more fortunate in that respect. We just have to take it on the chin and do the best possible job.”

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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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7 comments on “Mercedes “hanging on for dear life” with engine reliability problem”

  1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    22nd October 2021, 21:15

    Suuuuure they are. Just as there is no silver bullet, DAS wasn’t real and they drove with 100% engine modes during all races since 2014.

    Why even bother reporting on whatever Wolff says? Guy’s been lying non-stop

    1. Huge irony if the biggest single element to their titles, their greatest strength is the thing that’s mostly responsible for the end of their incredible run.

    2. Toto is the master of the bluff

    3. Why even bother reporting on whatever Wolff says?

      Why even bother reading these reports let alone commenting?

  2. The mindset comment suggests that they basically run engines on the limit for cooling or other limits and just hope to be able dial it back when they are 10 seconds up the road. But they can’t do that now. Recall how much trouble they have in Austria and Mexico where cooling is an issue.

  3. Handy to have a Bottas they can just test out stuff on during races

  4. Seems those unreliable units can only find their way into Bottas’ car.

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