George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has addressed recent engine concerns after Valtteri Bottas was forced to take a sixth engine ahead of the United States Grand Prix, but dismissed speculation surrounding the engine as “bull****”.
Mercedes are back in worrying territory again, as the seven-time world champions were forced to take another internal combustion engine [ICE] for Valtteri Bottas ahead of the race in Austin, triggering yet another grid penalty for the Finn, this time just a five-place setback.
Bottas has already been hit twice this season, in both Italy and Russia, after taking more engines than the allocated three that are permitted across a season.
And last time out in Turkey, Hamilton found himself with a ten-place grid penalty due to an engine change, with Wolff reporting of “unusual noises” coming from the seven-time world champion’s engine before the change.
Speaking after the first practice session in Austin, in which Mercedes dominated, Wolff told Sky Sports F1: “We’ve unfortunately had since mid-year some reliability issues that keep coming back.
Lewis Hamilton concerns raised as Valtteri Bottas takes fresh engine
“I think we understand now much better what it is but it means there is no durability in running them and that means a potential DNF risk.
“The penalties [for Bottas] are less than with the previous ones but it is still not nice because it is such a tight fought battle.
“If you are going back five [places], even if you are on pole, you are going to have a different life to come back.”
Hamilton is currently embroiled in a tense championship battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, and with just six races remaining, Wolff had already hinted that a non-finish in any race could make it impossible to come back from.
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When asked if Mercedes are waiting to see if other drivers could be given upgraded engines to see if they gain an advantage, which could justify a grid penalty for Hamilton, Wolff replied: “No. You need to have the same specification for everybody so you can’t make any difference between the one engine or the other.”
Wolff also addressed some speculation the issue with Mercedes’ engines were down to air valves in the engine.
Wolff added “You are being fed with a lot of bull***t.
“We don’t need to talk about air valves or anything like this because you and I wouldn’t understand what it is.”
Hamilton currently trails by six points with Verstappen leading the way in the driver standings, with just six races remaining of the season before the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
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