Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has clarified details of the chassis switch between drivers Lewis Hamilton that took place ahead of the French Grand Prix in a bid to put to bed the 'myth' the team was favouring one driver over the other.
Prior to securing second on the grid at Paul Ricard, Hamilton had struggled to get to grips with his car in the three free practice sessions.
The seven-time champion had complained over the radio during Friday running that his car did not feel right, leading to speculation that he had been slowed by the switching of chassis to that which Bottas used in Azerbaijan.
Asked to explain the situation, Wolff responded: "Which camp are you? The ones that think Lewis is at a disadvantage or Valtteri is at a disadvantage?"
He then explained: "On the mileage, we have four carryover chassis and probably if you investigate with the other big teams like Ferrari and Red Bull, they should also have carryover chassis rather than producing a new one because a new one would be too expensive.
"So we have carried over four chassis. One [chassis five] had a bit of an oops in Imola. These were all chassis that have won races over the last two years, chassis that now have been utilised by everybody, by both drivers.
"So there is a plan at the beginning of the season, which chassis goes where. If there is one with damage, when can we patch it up, when will it come back in the box as a spare chassis. There is no other thinking behind it."
Change is part of Mercedes' 'season plan'
Whilst chassis number five, as explained by Wolff, is currently out of rotation following Valtteri Bottas' Imola crash, chassis number three is with the team in France as the spare, whilst numbers four and six are the two in use this weekend.
Explaining what a chassis change actually means, Wolff said: "The chassis is the monocoque. It is a carbon 'bathtub' that is stiff, keeps the drivers safe and is the backbone of the car.
"In the modern day and age, when chassis come back to the factory they are laser scanned, they are checked for stiffness and if there is the slightest deviation, the chassis is not being utilised anymore."
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