16 June 2014
Mercedes puts ‘significant effort’ into avoiding Montreal repeat
Mercedes F1 executive director Paddy Lowe is confident there will be no reprise of Montreal as Lewis Hamilton looks to fight back for a second time in 2014.
Mercedes has been working hard between races to ensure that there is no repeat of the power unit problem that affected both of its cars in the Canadian Grand Prix.
While Nico Rosberg defended resolutely before finishing as runner-up in Montreal, team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton was forced to accept his second DNF of the season, undoing all the work his four successive wins had achieved in making up the points deficit he faced after Melbourne and leaving him 22 points adrift of the German as the series returns to Europe.
Although the problem – which was caused by overheating electrics shutting down the MGU-K on both cars – allowed the field to close in and ultimately take unexpected advantage of Mercedes' problems, executive director Paddy Lowe is determined not to give the team's rivals the chance of another upset.
“We put a significant amount of effort into understanding the problem that occurred in Canada and ensuring that there will be no repeat in Austria,” he confirmed, “The performance of the car was once again very strong [but], unfortunately, we were unable to fully capitalise on that performance in the race.”
With Rosberg yet to finish outside the top two this season, he has strengthened his grip on the title race, but Lowe is adamant that Hamilton will continue to be given every chance to redress the balance in the remaining twelve races.
“We saw an extraordinary drive from Nico to salvage second place with malfunctioning machinery, but it was extremely unfortunate for Lewis that we were unable to manage the failure on his car to the same extent,” he noted, “This has once again created a sizeable points deficit for Lewis through no fault of his own but, of course, we are doing our utmost to give both drivers the opportunity to compete for the championship on equal terms.”
Hamilton's second fightback begins this weekend in Austria as the former Osterreichring returns to the schedule under its new Red Bull Ring guise. While Mercedes has been the team to beat at each of the seven previous rounds, and gaps between teams likely to be larger than usual, Lowe is wary of the different conditions under which the race takes place.
With no F1 race in Austria since 2003, and only a handful of the current drivers having competed there in the past, the relatively unknown nature of the track could prove something of a leveller, and teams will approach the weekend as if it were a brand new event, as data and statistics from eleven years ago are simply not relevant today.
Similar to the last race in Montreal, the Red Bull Ring is a high power sensitivity circuit, with a low number of corners and multiple straights. The track layout also exemplifies fuel efficiency, further playing to the strengths of the Mercedes.
“We're excited by the prospect of a return to Spielberg after many years away - and hoping for a return to form results-wise,” Lowe commented, “It's a short circuit, with a lot of braking and high fuel consumption, so it will be another challenging race. The venue is also at high altitude which, owing to the low atmospheric pressure, places a different kind of duty on the power unit to what we've seen so far. It will be interesting to see how well both we and the competition respond to that.”
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