Toto Wolff has revealed Mercedes was considering retiring Nico Rosberg from the lead of the Australian Grand Prix after his car developed brake problems.
The German romped to victory in the 2016 F1 season opening Australian Grand Prix after turning around an early deficit to Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari with the help of a strategy call that saw him go long to the end following a red flag stop, unlike his rival.
However, the win was not at plain sailing as it looked from outside according to Wolff, who says the W07 was suffering with high brake caliper temperatures to the point there was a consideration of retiring him.
“It was so far unconventional that we suffered some little dramas as well, we had a problem on Nico's car with brake caliper temperatures which kept creeping up, almost to the stage where we thought about retiring the car.
“That was two thirds into the race and then destabilised at the maximum value and then it started to creep down again very slowly and recovered, so at a certain stage it was very difficult for the team to handle.
Furthermore, Rosberg was suffering with his rear tyres in the closing stages and Mercedes were not convinced he would be able to resist any attack before the end.
“Then 15 laps from the end our calculations showed that the tyre wouldn't last. Around five laps to the end the left rear could have fallen off the cliff, the temperatures kept dropping and dropping and dropping every single lap. Like our tyre guy said five laps to the end that's it, and you couldn't tell stop them or tell them to go slower because that would have made the tyre temperatures fall even more.”
Wolff went on to say it created a particular worry for Mercedes since it couldn't inform Rosberg of there being any tyre or brake issue due to team radio restrictions.
“It was really difficult because we couldn't tell him to look after the left rear and it's difficult because after all these years you are used to transmitting all these different messages to the drivers and optimise the car to make it survive. That lack of communication is definitely going to lead into situations where the engineer is no longer in control."