Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff is worried that Lewis Hamilton may have to face another engine penalty before the end of the season.
Taking a new Internal Combustion Engine for the Turkish GP has resulted in 7-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton taking a 10 place grid penalty for Sunday.
With this, Hamilton will be starting the Grand Prix from the 11th grid spot despite him setting the fastest lap in qualifying on Saturday. This season plays host to a record 22 races, and Mercedes’ engine reliability has caused great concern for Hamilton’s 8th title bid.
While this is the fourth engine Hamilton has installed in his W12, his teammate Valteri Bottas is already onto his fifth power unit. The addition of these units has made Bottas face two consecutive grid penalties at Monza and the Sochi GP.
When asked by Sky Sports F1 if Lewis’ fourth engine could last them till the end of the season, Toto responded in the affirmative but with a small caveat. “Yes, but there could be a moment when you say, ‘is it worth taking a fresh one because the other one is still at risk’.”
“There are seven tough races in front of us. Let’s see how the points pan out and I would never say no. But normally, four engines looks quite sufficient,” said Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal.
Mercedes decided to take the engine penalty for Hamilton at Turkey as it felt they had a good chance of making up lost places once the race commences.
The Silver Arrows have been strong all weekend and hope to carry that performance into the race, especially Lewis Hamilton, who will have to fight his way to the front to challenge rival Max Verstappen of Redbull.
Talking about the engine reliability issues Mercedes has faced, Wolff summarised: “We have seen over the course of the season that we have some little gremlins that we weren’t completely sure where they came from and how much performance they could potentially cost. We would rather have a new engine in the pool that can possibly go longer.”
Turkish delight a challenge for Lewis Hamilton
With the 10 spot grid penalty, Hamilton will be starting 11th. He is faced with the challenge of passing drivers who are themselves having a good weekend and look strong going into the race. The most obvious challenge for him right off the bat would be getting a good start.
Over the last few races, Hamilton has struggled to get a decent start, resulting in him losing positions in the very first lap itself. He will also have to battle rival constructor Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who starts in 7th. Compounding to Hamilton’s obstacles, an in-form Fernando Alonso driving for Alpine will also prove to be a big challenge.
While the Mercedes may be the quickest of the cars this weekend, a strong midfield will make the difference in this round of a season, proving to be a thrilling battle for glory.