Mercedes not planning Hamilton F1 engine change in Abu Dhabi

Mercedes has no plans to introduce a fresh Formula 1 power unit into Lewis Hamilton’s pool for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. 
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12.

Hamilton has already exceeded his permitted engine allocation for 2021, having used a total of five V6 internal combustion engines that led to grid penalties in Turkey and Brazil.

There were suggestions that Mercedes may consider fitting a new ICE on Hamilton’s car to give him a performance advantage at the Abu Dhabi finale in his title battle against Max Verstappen. 

But speaking to Sky Sports after opening practice, Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin ruled out an engine change. 

“Not on the plan,” Shovlin replied when asked if there was a possibility Mercedes could introduce a new engine in Abu Dhabi. 

"If we do that, something has gone wrong. It wouldn’t feel like a good idea. That would only be if we suffer a big problem, and even that wouldn’t be Plan A if we did lose an engine.” 

Much has been made of the power unit Mercedes introduced in Brazil, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff referring to the engine as “spicy”, while Red Bull boss Christian Horner claimed it was “unraceable” in Brazil and Jeddah. 

“It’s not as big a deal as it’s perhaps being made out to be,” Shovlin said. 

“I think Red Bull were inferring it was a huge difference and I think Toto did the same at one point. It’s a useful step in the right direction. 

“Whether we had it in, or not, at the last race, it’s not going to cover the kind of gap that we were seeing to Max over a single lap. But it’s a step in the right direction.” 

Verstappen and Hamilton enter the final round of the season level of points knowing that whoever finishes ahead in Abu Dhabi will seal the world title. 

The Red Bull driver set the pace in opening practice around the revised Yas Marina Circuit layout, while Hamilton was third behind Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and three-tenths adrift of Verstappen after having his best lap time deleted for track limits. 

“It’s fairly representative,” Shovlin explained. “The track is probably seven or eight degrees hotter than it’s going to be come qualifying, so we’re not going to see a very different picture. 

“It looks pretty tight. There’s a couple of corners we are struggling with, but there’s not a lot between the teams. 

“Whether [the changes] suit us, I’m not sure. Turn 5 was one of the ones where we haven’t got the balance right there yet, so we’ll go and have a chat with Lewis and Valtteri and see what we can improve in the break.” 

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