Sheared Mercedes bolt ended Hülkenberg's Formula 1 return
Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer has revealed a bolt supplied by Mercedes was at the heart of the failure that forced Nico Hülkenberg's retirement before the British Grand Prix had started.
The team was unable to fire up Hülkenberg's car as the field made its way to the grid, leaving the 32-year-old German a frustrated figure on his return to F1 after stepping in at the 11th hour as a replacement for Sergio Perez after the Mexican tested positive for Covid-19.
Following an initial investigation, Szafnauer said: "It looks like a bolt sheared within the clutch housing.
"That bolt got caught and wouldn't allow the internal combustion engine to turn over, so where the bolt had fallen off, it got jammed, and therefore we couldn't turn the engine over."
As to why the bolt should shear, Szafnauer added: "It's a bit early to understand why, but it did shear off.
"It could be a material issue in manufacturing, it could be an over-torque issue. I don't know. I'm sure all those bolts are torqued to a certain specification, [but] say if the torque wrench isn't set right and you over-torque it, that could shear it.
"Was the bolt brittle, for example, we'll have to understand the root cause and make sure we fix it."
Asked whether the bolt was made in-house or supplied by Mercedes, Szafnauer replied: "It's not a Racing Point part. That's a part we get from HPP [Mercedes High Performance Powertrains] or MGP [Mercedes Grand Prix]."
Szafnauer further clarified that MGP would also have torqued the bolt as part of the clutch system, but insisted: "I'm not saying that's what it was. It was a hypothetical thing [as to what] it could be. I don't know what it was."
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