Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has revealed that a trend of engine degradation has been spotted and it will continue for the rest of the season – but does not expect any further penalties for Lewis Hamilton.
For Hamilton the latest one will arrive at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, where a five-place penalty will come his way after taking a fifth Internal Combustion Engine [ICE] for the season.
Mercedes have made progress on the gremlins which have crept in to their engines, though another issue which has now cropped up is the power output and its sustainability.
With Red Bull pulling away as the 2021 title battle reaches its climax, Wolff made the worrying claim that Mercedes’ engine power is dropping and that will continue to happen until the season ends.
“We have degradation on the engine,” Wolff told Sky F1 after first practice in Sao Paulo.
“And that is going to continue until the end of the season. It will continue to decrease in power and we haven’t yet realised why that is but we are just seeing it [the numbers] creep down.
Asked how many working engines Hamilton has in his pool, Wolff replied: “He has two. That’s the new one and the current one.
“We hope [taking the penalty here] is a good opportunity with the sprint race and the Saudi Arabia race, too, as we think by then the motor is going to lose more power – so in terms of our simulations here is the right place to do it.
“I think this final one [new ICE] we will need to take for Lewis’ car.”
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Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle tried to press Wolff further on the exact issue with the Mercedes engines but, understandably, Wolff kept things close to his chest.
“Without going into specifics, every engine is degrading,” Wolff added.
“We have seen it over the past years that after over 1000km there is a certain amount of kilowatts degrading on the unit. Ours is just degrading much more than the average over the past few years and that is increasing from weekend to weekend.
“If we keep just the current engine then we, for sure, are not going to competitive in Saudi Arabia or Abu Dhabi.”