The 2020 F1 season was set to get underway in March, but it was cancelled at the last minute amid the escalating COVID-19 pandemic before it kicked off months later in Austria.
It has now been revealed that the pandemic “came at just the right time” for the Mercedes F1 Team, as they still had “serious” problems with their power unit ahead of the planned season-opener in Australia.
In a recent interview, Mercedes’ former engine chief Andy Cowell said the delay gave them enough time to resolve the issues and allowed them to dominate the 2020 Championship.
“To be honest, COVID came at just the right time,” Cowell told the Dutch edition of Motorsport.com.
“We still had some serious problems with our engine before the start of the first race,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mercedes chief designer John Owen confirmed that they discovered a “persistent” problem” with their engine which wasn’t yet addressed ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
“Our High Performance Powertrains department [HPP] had just discovered a persistent problem and was still searching for a solution,” Owen said.
“They literally needed one more day, but that time was no longer there prior to [the transport to] Australia.
“The racing season didn’t start in Australia. Soon after, our motor department managed to solve the biggest problems.
“But it could have been pretty painful if it had just become the first race. We had quite a bit of luck,” he said.
Owen added that they “brought a new specification of the engine to the Austrian GP, with mainly some reliability upgrades.”
Mercedes ended up dominating the 2020 F1 season, with Lewis Hamilton comfortably winning the Drivers’ Title despite missing a grand prix after testing positive for COVID-19.
In the Constructors’ Championship, the Silver Arrows scored 573 points across the 17 grand prix of 2020, while second-placed Red Bull was over 250 points adrift of them on 319 points.