“There are some issues bubbling under”- Mercedes may have some reliability issues with their power unit that could cost them the championship.
Valtteri Bottas had to take two new engines in two races in a row, granting him successive grid penalties. After the Russian Grand Prix, Mercedes revealed that they might have some technical problem, and the engine used by Bottas in Monza has been sent for further investigation.
However, RacingNews365 journalist Dieter Rencken opines that the problem is probably more severe than projected, and Mercedes may have some power unit challenges ahead.
“We keep hearing that they changed this engine because of an endplate that was cracked, and they changed Nicholas Latifi’s engine because they discovered something,” Rencken told Thomas Maher on the RacingNews365 Formula 1 podcast.
“I’m wondering whether or not Mercedes really does have some form of reliability challenges. I wouldn’t call it a problem yet, but I’d certainly say a challenge. That there are some issues bubbling under and that basically, I think that could change the face of the season.”
“Honda seem to have got their reliability issues together. Max wouldn’t have taken his engine in Russia, had he not basically written off the one in Silverstone in that crash.”
“He wouldn’t have had to take it [in Russia]. He may have taken it, but not necessarily so. That crash made sure that he had to take it at some stage.”
If it was a ploy to stop Max Verstappen; then it failed
However, Rencken is also not ruling out the possibility that Mercedes could have used Bottas as a pawn to slow down Verstappen at the back of the grid, but if that was the intention, then the Silver Arrows failed.
“We were rather surprised when we discovered that they had done another power unit change for Valtteri,” Rencken said. “There are two possible scenarios here. One is that there was a genuine mechanical issue, and if there is, then, of course, they’ve got a reliability problem.
“They say that there was some damage that they picked up, well, possibly so, but the damage wasn’t particularly hard. So it didn’t quite ring true. But whatever. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.”
“It just doesn’t stack up, it could be nefarious. Incidentally, I have no problem with that if they want to play those tactics. That’s their prerogative, let them play it, I’m certainly not going to criticise them about it if that is the case.”
“But if it’s not the case, then I really do fear for Mercedes from a reliability and an engine perspective going forward, particularly for Lewis [Hamilton’s] car.”