Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has explained why the team elected for an engine change only in Lewis Hamilton's car for the Turkish Grand Prix.
Hamilton has been handed a 10-place grid penalty for this weekend's race in Istanbul after taking a fourth ICE [internal combustion engine] for the season.
At the last race in Russia, title rival Max Verstappen was handed a completely new power unit by Red Bull which resulted in a back-of-the-grid start from where he recovered to finish second to Hamilton.
“We’re simulating all the races to the end of the year," Shovlin explained to Sky Sports F1. "There’s the balance of the risk of a reliability issue.
"Obviously, the thing that you definitely don’t want to do is fail during a race and then have to take a penalty anyway, and then there’s also a performance element because the power units do lose a bit of horsepower over their life.
“Now, the 10-place penalty, really the bit that most contributes to that reliability element and the performance is the ICE itself and it’s better to take 10 places than start from the back.”
The decision for Hamilton to take a hit in Turkey was made due to the high number of passing opportunities, referencing the seven-time champion's 2006 recovery drive in GP2 from P19 to P2 as evidence.
“You remember Lewis in that GP2 race, he felt there was a lot of opportunity here and it should make for an exciting Sunday," added Shovlin.
Mercedes "unlikely" to add to Hamilton grid punishment
Despite Mercedes only changing the ICE in Hamilton's W12, there remains ample opportunity for the team to make further changes.
Shovlin, however, stated that was "unlikely", adding: "It’s a lot of fairly intrusive work when you start changing some of those elements during the race weekend.
"So we’re pretty happy with the decision that we’ve taken so far and that will be likely what we will stick with.”
Hamilton posted the fastest time in the opening practice session of the weekend ahead of Verstappen.
With such pace, Shovlin reflected: “It’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it? It does make it easier to recover.
"Could it be a race that Lewis would have won from pole? And obviously, that balance is one of the things that it is what it is.
"So we just need to make the most of getting back and hopefully even having an opportunity to win.”
What do you think?
My bet is for Hamilton to take pole and start from P11. Barring any accidents, there is a strong possibility that Hamilton could fight for the win as he seems comfortable on this track.
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