Mercedes run in to engine issue during test

We were discussing Mercedes and the front wing design versus Ferrari’s on this week’s podcast and while I posted a story about the team changing their front wing design and how it would take months, they showed up, as I suggested, with big aero updates including a new front wing design this week.

What we also talked about was the power units and how the lack of big regulation changes there meant that the teams were very reliable in the first test. That came to a halt when Mercedes ran into a oil pressure problem stopping Valtteri Bottas in the afternoon.

Now that‘s interesting to me on two fronts. Mercedes know that engine and they brought new aero which they really need to test. It also might suggest, as Paul said on Monday’s podcast, that they are turning the wick up a bit and will have to stretch their legs this week to see how the package manages full power.

The loss of running time hurts as James Allison told Autosport:

“It was not exactly the day we hoped for, running for the first time with the bodywork kit that we expect to use in Melbourne, with a large part of the day lost to an oil pressure issue at lunchtime,” said Allison.

“Nevertheless, either side of that problem we did do some useful things, finding that the car behaves a little differently with the new package.

“We’re looking forward very much to have a trouble-free day tomorrow to get a better feel for what it can do.”

Regardless, this isn’t a team that folds like a chaise lounge, they’ll get on top of it for sure. Will the aero change in the front wing cure their handling issues and was this engine issue a one off? Time will tell but all of this is adding to the narrative that Mercedes is having a bit of a ragged time of it in testing this year.

Hat tip: Autosport

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I would have taken Merc down a tick on the pecking order, but Ferrari had an issue of their own as well. Guess nobody got a handle on the reliability aspect yet.


“Reliable racecar” is always going to be an oxymoron, especially at the very highest end of performance like in Formula 1. The teams constantly have to weigh the benefits of, say, trimming 100 grams off the engine block to create a lighter but slightly more fragile engine. No doubt Mercedes COULD make a reliable F1 car, but they would lose their competitive edge in the process. The right balance is going to necessarily involve a non-negligible chance of failure, or else the team will be undercut by a rival who is more willing to take risks.