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F1 Italian Grand Prix: Mercedes admits engine update was ‘risky’

Toto Wolff admits the decision to use an updated Mercedes power unit at Monza was risky as Nico Rosberg failed to finish with reliability problems.
Toto Wolff admits the decision to introduce an updated Mercedes power unit ahead of the Italian Grand Prix was a 'risky call' as Nico Rosberg saw his hopes of winning this year's Formula 1 world title take a huge blow due to reliability problems.

Mercedes spent all seven of its remaining in-season development 'tokens' by giving Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton the chance to use an upgraded power unit in Monza as the team sought an opportunity to get a head-start on its programme for the 2016 season.

However, a fundamental issue with the cooling system led to a leak that 'contaminated' Rosberg's new power unit, forcing the team to revert him back to his 'old' specification engine for qualifying and the race.

Saying it was always going to 'compromise' his chances against Hamilton, Rosberg was still in contention for a second place finish when the ageing unit – competing in its sixth race – cried enough with just two laps of the race remaining. His and Mercedes' first DNF of 2015, Rosberg has subsequently dropped 53 points behind Hamilton in the overall standings with seven races remaining.

With the benefit of hindsight, Wolff admits bringing the upgraded engine – which he insists is to test fuel efficiency - to Monza was a 'risky' one, but insists it will be beneficial going forward, regardless of Rosberg's misfortune.

“We brought that phase four engine because we want to understand if the direction of development was the right one,” he said. “It was a bit of a risky call. We saw what happened to Nico and that was the result of that engine.

“The reliability runs were on quite a high mileage but they weren't finished yet, so in hindsight we lost a car and Nico lost valuable point. But this is a very competitive championship. It is going to be one next year and the earlier you can understand which direction you need to go the better it is.

“The engine was on its sixth race, so it was very high on miles and we didn't get any warnings no. We gave it a little push to try to catch up Sebastian and this is when it decided to call it a day.

Significantly, Mercedes fear the engine could be damaged beyond repair, which puts him closer to the cusp of a potential penalty should he be forced to change two more engines before the end of the season.

“We don't know yet whether it is terminally damaged, and to make the point – it wasn't an engine specific failure we had. It was a leak in the cooling system which led to the engine to fail."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
04.09.2015 - Free Practice 2, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W06
05.09.2015 - Free Practice 3, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W06
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing RB12
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Haas F1 Team VF-16
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW38
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Marcus Ericsson (SUE) Sauber C34 leads Felipe Nasr (BRA) Sauber C34
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
21.10.2016 - Free Practice 1, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12

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September 08, 2015 3:16 PM

HRC: So,,,,,,,,,,a leak in the cooling system made the engine fail,,,,,,,and said leak never rang any alarm bells on the telemetry?,,,,,,,,,,,,,erm ok Toto.
Toto's interview / the article is not well written as it mixes the talking about the new and old engine unit. The cooling issue affected the new engine - they had to take that out before the race and are worried that it is already damaged from that cooling problem. The other engine used in the race failed as it just had too much work put through it - indeed I think it was essentially doing one more race than it really had to.


September 09, 2015 1:00 AM

here4thesun2: I'd like to know the answer to this myself. If they can't use any prior spec engines not already used in rotation, then that explains having to go to the old grey mare. But if that were the case, then it is pretty short sighted to not wait a week and have a fresh engine in reserve.
Any unit homologated in the 2014 or 2015 season can be used. New units can only be to the latest spec. Rosberg had only used 2 units before the race and the other used unit had 6 races on it anyway. The update wasn't that risky. An updated unit won the race.

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