Mercedes alarmed by mysterious overheating

The problem, which also affected the customer team Williams but not McLaren and Aston Martin, left the team perplexed.

At the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend, Mercedes’ W15 cars, driven by George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, encountered unforeseen overheating issues, finishing fifth and seventh, respectively.

The problem, which also affected the customer team Williams but not McLaren and Aston Martin, left the team perplexed.

Mercedes Technical Director James Allison expressed the team’s confusion, stating, “Well that was actually the biggest unanswered mystery from the weekend.

“We were substantially hotter in the race than we expected to be.”

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Allison highlighted the inherent challenges in predicting cooling requirements, noting that the weekend’s conditions were unexpectedly different from what had been experienced in winter testing and practice sessions.

Despite accurate weather predictions and familiarity with the cooling levels, the cars still overheated, a rare and significant deviation from expected temperatures.

“The fact that we got it wrong by more than one or two degrees is extremely unusual, and quite punishing,” Allison remarked, emphasizing the detrimental impact on the cars’ performance and the necessity to mitigate engine damage by reducing power.

The overheating not only required adjustments to driving style but also compromised tyre temperature and lap times.

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Allison underlined the urgency of identifying and resolving the cause to prevent recurrence.

Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ team boss, quantified the impact, suggesting a loss of approximately 0.5 seconds per lap, while trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin confirmed the significant, though slightly variable, lap time deficit.

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Shovlin also speculated on the potential outcomes without the overheating, particularly for Russell and Hamilton, who faced additional challenges due to their starting positions and tyre management issues.

Mercedes is now focused on investigating the limited factors that could have contributed to the temperature increase, aiming to rectify the issue and avoid future performance setbacks.

The situation underscores the fine margins in Formula 1 racing, where even small miscalculations can have substantial effects on race outcomes.