Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2021

“Painful” third engine change for Bottas will pay dividends – Mercedes

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In the round-up: Mercedes says taking power unit penalties is crucial to avoid any risk of a “catastrophic” non-finish in the remaining races.

In brief

Mercedes ‘balancing performance and reliability’ with power unit components

Mercedes’ chief strategist James Vowles said that changing Valtteri Bottas‘s internal combustion engine at the United States Grand Prix was to avoid any risk of a non-finish due to reliability in final five races of 2021.

“We are balancing performance versus reliability to the end of the season,” said Vowles. “One failure to finish a race, be it because of a chassis or power unit fault, would be catastrophic for the championship. As a result of that we are managing that in the best way possible to the end of the year.”

Vowles said it was not a case of chasing performance but “more about the balance across the remainder of the season than one event. So, this change, as painful as it was during the Austin Grand Prix, will actually pay dividends across the next few races.”

Bottas has taken three penalties for exceeding his maximum number of power unit parts in the last four races. Team mate Lewis Hamilton has taken one and many other Mercedes engine customers have also exceeded their maximum allocations.

Mazepin cockpit overheating a persistent problem

Mazepin reported his feet getting hot again in Austin
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says the overheating problem Nikita Mazepin has described in recent races appears to be unique to the driver.

“He complained about the feet getting hot a few times,” said Steiner. “We always tried to make it better, but it seems that happens only to him. This is the same chassis as last year, so we never had the issue with that.”

Mazepin’s team mate Mick Schumacher has not indicated similar problems, said Steiner. “I didn’t ask, specifically, Mick, but he never complained about it and for sure he would. So we need to look into why he gets hot.

“We need to do something, maybe the next step is to do something on the boot, you can do it both ways. But there was nothing broken or anything and it isn’t the first time that he complained about that.”

Popularity shows McLaren’s progress – Norris

After McLaren was voted the most popular team in Formula 1 in the sport’s recent global survey, Lando Norris said the growth in support for the team has been visible at races this year.

“It’s nice to see we’ve not just made progress on-track, but also off-track, in a way,” said Norris. “It’s cool the amount of McLaren hats and T-shirts and things, it was definitely the most, compared to to any other team, so that’s awesome to have the support, the people cheering us on everywhere. It just makes it a much cooler environment for everyone.”

However Norris said it’s hard to hear the support for the team while in the car. “You don’t hear the fans while you’re driving,” he said. “If someone says they do they’re lying.”

“It makes us feel good as a team, not just myself, but us as a team,” he added, “because we do a lot to try and engage the fans and bring them on board, make them feel like they’re part of the family and part of our progress over the last four years.”

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Comment of the day

Does the rapid success of Alex Palou in IndyCar reflect poorly on the series’ pool of talent?

I think it depends on your perception. It may ‘look’ bad to some, but I’d say it looks worse for IndyCar than it is.

On balance, you’d have to say the driver pool is deeper in F1 right now, up and down the grid. Hamilton and Verstappen are generational talents and veterans with years of experience; and at the back, even a Mazepin is streets ahead of a Dalton Kellett. But that’s how F1 should be, considering it’s the most prestigious, expensive, and lucrative series.

So I don’t feel that Palou or Ericsson’s success reflect particularly poorly on IndyCar at all. Palou consistently outperformed his team mates and mediocre equipment in junior formulae.

In Super Formula, his first season in a top-tier series, he was a mechanical failure away from winning the championship, which would have done one better than Pierre Gasly’s Super Formula campaign, and in lesser equipment than Gasly had. His raw qualifying pace was particularly impressive (three poles) — more so, at times, than his race pace — as was his domination in the wet at Fuji. To me, that looks like a very quick, talented driver whose results will only improve as he gains experience.

Is Palou now the equal of Hamilton or Verstappen? No, but neither is Gasly. So IndyCar is certainly not as deep as F1, but it’s deep enough to make a Felix Rosenqvist look deeply average when you compare his results in the 10 car against Palou’s, and against O’Ward in equal equipment.

As for Ericsson, he looked average against Leclerc, but so does Bottas against Hamilton, and Bottas still manages the occasional victory in his Mercedes. With Ericsson’s sponsors able to fund a seat at what is currently the top team in IndyCar, I’m not surprised to see him net a couple of wins, either.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Gavin Brown and Striay!

Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 29 comments on ““Painful” third engine change for Bottas will pay dividends – Mercedes”

    1. I guess my first thought was where was this heat coming from for Mr. Mazepin’s hot feet. The engine is behind him and the radiators are beside him and the front brakes are outboard…… Sounds odd indeed. Why is this guy even in F1? Yeah, I know, money. Meanwhile, Colton Herta, who has won races in Indycar is not qualified for a Super License. It all makes sort of strange sense.

      1. Maybe due to the plank rubbing the asphalt.

        And he is certainly not the best F1 driver, but at least he was always in the top20 when finishing. Even Palau hasn’t achieved that in his championship.

        1. someone or something
          29th October 2021, 9:59

          Maybe due to the plank rubbing the asphalt.

          The drivers’ feet are placed somewhere between the front wheels, while the plank begins roughly underneath their knees. Add to that the fact that carbon fibre is not a great heat conductor, and it’s pretty clear there has to be a different reason.

          1. The closest heat source I could think of.
            I doubt it will be friction heat of his socks or shoes ;)

      2. IcyHot in the boots. Any locker room athlete can guess this. Well, its usually applied on the “athletic supporter”…

    2. we are most definitely not siphoning PU’s from one driver to the other.

      1. I guess there is a way to scrutinize that. Or else all the other teams would be doing it.

        1. @omarr-pepper there certainly is; all elements in a car have to pass a ‘technical passport’ and not only have to be one of the elements allocated to that specific car but the one that the team has declared they’re using.

          Daniel Abt got disqualified a few years ago in Formula E for having the wrong powertrain element. It was one of his – and it was the first race of the year so hardly mattered – but they most certainly do check it.

      2. @peartree Of course not. It’s all about ensuring reliability for Bottas as Vowles says.

        1. @balue @hazelsouthwell @omarr-pepper Do you remember when webber was always replacing the gearbox, it was never Vettel.
          I know it is against the rules but for instances with gearboxes you are allowed to change ratios, who knows what gears are from what gearbox, you can’t tag the internals can you?
          Engines are sealed, don’t know to what extent and what repairs can be made. Other than to swap the whole thing which is impossible, I don’t know what gains can be had. Anyway, Bottas must have really bad luck as one of the new engines was bad and definitely not in the back of Hamilton’s garage.

          1. @peartree Of course. I meant it ironically. For sure the idea is to swap parts, as well as do research. Just sacrifice his races like he doesn’t matter, Mercedes -style.

    3. The Mechanic: Andy Stevenson piece was Ok, but is it only me who find reading one line paragraphs tiresome?

    4. But why only bottas got 3 engines instead of Hamilton’s one lately? Anyone has a clue? I can think some things like they push bottas engine to find the best settings and what is the reliability with more power or that Bottas checks new elements that under the umbrella of “reliability updates”.
      No matter the case, whatever is happening with the MB engine for sure Hamilton hasnt any engine change left.

      1. As the engine was very reliabile before this year people think they using slightly higher engine mods some wear items came to light (which Mercedes can upgrade as this is clearly a problem) but it’s not clear why they have that wear (otherwise they can fix it)
        Also some drivers have more luck with engines (think 2016) and Lewis has the most luck with it engine.

        1. This only makes sense if Mercedes has Bottas ‘testing’ their new engines in race conditions. Even then those engines would have to be running in a much higher race mode than ‘norma’l. The down side of that explaination is it doesn’t reflect Bottas performance.

          The question that’s not been asked yet is, will Hamilton also have to change his engine?

          1. If you ask the experts there is a very good chance Lewis has to take a new ICE IF he drives with those higher engine mods. In Bottas cause it could be a faulty one and that is why he had to take a other one.
            Why is his performance you have to ask Toto or Bottas as noone has that answer yet.

      2. I know that Merc has said they’re not chasing performance, but I’m still slightly worried that changing so many engines right before the engine freeze and Merc running a higher engine mode in free practice will put them a second ahead of the field next year – re: 2014.

        1. There are more teams using that exact same engine (plus software/settings/etc.)

      3. I wonder if it’s just a narrative to hide the intention of having Bottas down the field, hoping to have strategic advantage at the first round of pitstops (Bottas pittting later and lingering in front of Verstappen, giving Ham an overcut, for instance).

        1. I would think they need Bottas at the front considering the tight WCC. Maybe it’s this: I believe you can’t change engine modes during the course of a weekend. But that might mean they can set Bottas’ engine on a more aggressive mode for complete weekends now, just to find out how far they can go with Hamiltons.

        2. It would be better if Bottas was at least within the pit stop window, to have the Redbulls come out behind him.

      4. Or maybe they are cheating Bottas taking the penalties, but Hamilton receives the new engine ???

      5. Maybe they planned it that Bottas will have more engines so they can run an aggressive engine mode with more performance trying to make it harder on Verstappen.

    5. Re Don Smith’s tweet: I still think maximizing everything for an early-2022 inaugural race would’ve been wiser than a somewhat rushed late-2021 debut. Surprising how unfinished things still look this close to the event.
      Could time really run out after all? I’m not unconfident, but you never know.

    6. I’ve read something interesting on a different website. They’re testing the engine limits and sacrifice/use Bottas to do so. His latest engine penalty in Austin was strategic. Rumor says they crank Bottas his fresh engine up in Mexico and Brazil hoping to get in front of Verstappen. I dunno if it’s true. But it’s not unlikely. RB is always good on high altitude tracks and MB knows it. Such an exciting season this is! Can’t wait for Mexico.

      1. It has something todo with engine mod settings that is for sure but if the sacrifice Bootas i am not so sure. Mexico will be the Turbo who decide how fast you are there.

      2. That is a good theory. It may also explain how Bottas beat Verstappen in Turkey.

    7. Hold on a minute ….

      Mazepin’s Haas does have an engine right?
      I mean – they aren’t trying to save money by cutting a hole in the floor so he can propel the car by running with his feet like Fred Flintstone are they?

      It would explain some of his recent drives I suppose ;P

    8. One of these “Journalists” should ask why all the team related bad luck seems to affect Bottas and not Lewis in any way.
      From reliability to pit stops or even more specifically about the engines.

    Comments are closed.