Mercedes haven’t quite had the start to the season that they would have expected after brilliant runs during testing and that scintillating lap by Lewis Hamilton in qualifying in Australia, seeing him take the pole position for a record 7th time in Australia.
Hamilton lost the race leader’s spot to Vettel after having led for more than half of the race, as the VSC combined with Mercedes’ little offline tool problem led to Vettel coming out in front after undergoing that strategic pit stop.
Hamilton who was dealt with a severe blow mid-race wanted to get back in the lead and thus started pursuing Vettel very, very aggressively. However, the nature of the Albert Park track meant that Hamilton couldn’t really get a chance to overtake Vettel and ultimately ended up backing off as he was instructed to save his engine.
The new 3 engine limit has caused teams to undergo a different strategy with respect to pursuing races till the end and stretching the car to its limits.
Mercedes’ trackside engineer, Andrew Shovlin has said that Hamilton’s engine temperatures had almost reached breakdown point but it had not exceeded its limits in any way.
“You may have heard us on the radio telling Lewis it was getting hot, which is just the fact that when the cars get so close you don’t get clean air going into the radiators keeping it cool.
“It did get quite close to its limit temperature, and we are monitoring all these limits very closely. You can run up to them, you just have to be careful that you don’t run over them.
“In Lewis’ case we were okay. We were just up around the limit and you heard Lewis on the radio hear that he couldn’t get by and he was going to save the engine. Well at that point he just backed off and he was cooling the car.
“You can turn down the power of the engine so it is not having to work so hard, but we are pretty confident that the engine will be in good shape.” Shovlin said.
The engine is now set to be inspected before the all important Bahrain Grand Prix.
“We are limited in what tests we can do because we cannot actually run the engine, we are not allowed to, apart from when we get to Bahrain,” he said.
“At the moment that is Lewis’ only engine that we have in the engine pool. He will be running that engine in Bahrain and in China, and we will be monitoring them as we always do to ensure that everything is continually okay.” he concluded.