Mercedes to right the wrongs of last two Austrian Grands Prix
Mercedes is confident it can avoid the issues that have plagued its last two grands prix in Austria when Formula 1 finally starts at the Red Bull Ring in early July.
In 2018, and for the first time following its return to F1 as a constructor in 2010, Mercedes suffered a double retirement due to mechanical issues, with polesitter Valtteri Bottas encountering a gearbox failure on lap 14, and second-on-the-grid Lewis Hamilton stopping with a fuel pressure problem 50 laps later.
The race was also notable for a communication error as chief strategist James Vowles opted not to pit Hamilton under a VSC caused by Bottas' retirement, a decision for which he later apologised.
Last year, the Mercedes W10 suffered from significant cooling issues in the heat of the Styrian hills, leaving Bottas and Hamilton to finish a distant third and fifth respectively behind duelling lead duo in Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.
The weekend's woes were also compounded by Bottas crashing in second practice and Hamilton collecting a grid penalty for impeding Kimi Raikkonen during qualifying, dropping him from second to fourth for the start.
It leaves Verstappen starting as the favourite to land a third consecutive race win at Red Bull's home track on July 5, with the circuit also staging the Steiermark Grand Prix a week later.
"There's no doubt that Max is going to be a formidable opponent for us this year," said Mercedes technical director James Allison, speaking on the F1 Nation podcast.
"Ferrari did show some glimpses of form in pre-season testing, but we will imagine that Max will again be strong in Austria because Red Bull are always super pumped up there and they've got a bit of a track record.
"But equally, if we think about Austria last year, our campaign was hampered by our own mistakes on the cooling side, that meant we were chugging round way off the natural pace of the car, and the year before we were hampered by unreliability and a rather clumsy move around the safety car."
Despite those problems, Allison believes there will be an improved showing this year, adding: "So we're all looking forward getting to Austria and showing a bit more of what we are capable of than the slight under-performance of what we've put in in the previous two seasons."
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