Mercedes electrical problems "a feature of the model"
Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has revealed the team was aware of the electrical problems that manifested during the Formula 1 season opener from early in the weekend.
The Silver Arrows topped every session of the weekend in Austria, but it was not all plain sailing as an electrical problem, believed at the time to have been caused by the harsh Red Bull Ring kerbs, caused more than a small amount of concern on the pit wall.
"We were aware of it [the problem] on Friday, when you saw that Valtteri [Bottas] had an issue at the end of one of the sessions," said Shovlin. "So that was the first sign we had of a problem.
"We’ve had recurrence issues over the course of Saturday, and going into the race we were expecting it, because it seems to be a feature of the model. At the moment, if we build the car and run it, this problem will appear at some point. It’s a question of how soon."
Questioned whether the gearbox and sensor issues were one and the same, Shovlin added: "It’s not manifesting itself as one thing. They are related, but it’s basically a build up of electrical noise that starts to interfere with the various electrical systems.
"With Valterri, we saw this around halfway through the race. It got progressively worse. With Lewis [Hamilton], it appeared later, but it’s electrical noise that’s then affecting a lot of different things."
Mercedes afternoon was further complicated when, having warned both Bottas and Hamilton to refrain from using the kerbs, Hamilton spun Red Bull driver Alex Albon into the gravel as the Thai-British driver had attempted an ambitious pass around the outside of turn four.
The stewards slapped Hamilton with a five-second time penalty - one which ultimately cost the six-time champion a podium position.
Of the incident, Shovlin said: "We think Lewis left him the track, that he didn’t need to make contact. We think that Albon could have moved further over to the left, and he wasn’t at the limit of the track from what we can see at that point.
"Our view is that Albon would have had a right to the corner in that Lewis has to leave him space and racing room, so Lewis wasn’t entitled to push him off the circuit, but we think Lewis had given him that room.
"So we felt it was a penalty that wasn’t really warranted, because all Lewis needs to do is give him room. He doesn’t need to concede the position, he’s just got to give him space on the track."
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