Mercedes confirm why Hamilton’s ‘spicy engine’ wasn’t used in Qatar


Mercedes have confirmed why they opted against running Lewis Hamilton’s newer engine at the Qatar Grand Prix, which the seven-time World Champion nonetheless dominated.

Hamilton stormed to pole position and victory at the Losail International Circuit, cutting Max Verstappen’s title lead to eight points ahead of the final two races.

After the Grand Prix, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff sent a warning to Red Bull, explaining that the “spicy engine” used by Hamilton in Brazil had been taken out of his car for the weekend.

Keeping the “most power” for the final two races

Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, has now expanded on the decision, pointing to Losail being less of a power-sensitive circuit than Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and Yas Marina (Abu Dhabi).

“Of the remaining circuits, Qatar has got the shortest amount of straight-line [sections], the shortest amount of full-throttle running, and it’s got an awful lot of cornering,” said Shovlin on the team’s post-Qatar GP debrief.

“The power advantage you get from that engine in Qatar is much smaller than if you run it at the two remaining circuits.

“All we are doing is really trying to balance the mileage across the pool, but make sure that when we use the less powerful engine, there is less of a penalty for it.

“That also means, when we get to the final two tracks, we are going to have the most power that we possibly can.”

Where did Mercedes’ pace come from?

Shovlin then went on to explain exactly where Mercedes found the advantage over Red Bull last weekend, having topped qualifying by more than half a second and controlled the race from start to finish.

“Well, if you think about it in a very fundamental sense, you make your lap time from a combination of the straight line, where the drivers are at full throttle, and then the cornering performance,” added Shovlin.

“Now, in some recent tracks, we’ve been matching Red Bull in the corners and extracting a benefit in the straight line. But in Qatar, it ended up being the opposite. We were matching them in the straight line and finding all our time in the corners.

“So, where does that time come from? Well, really there are two areas. One is the downforce that you can get on the car and clearly, our package was working quite well there, helping us generate a lot of apex speed. But then also you’ve got the balance of the car, and that’s the thing that we tune with the mechanical settings.

“For our drivers, they had a balance that they were very happy with. They had stability on the way in, they could attack the corner, carry speed and, ultimately, you saw the demonstration of that with that fantastic lap from Lewis for pole position.”



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