Wolff reveals extent of Hamilton's power unit issues

  • 12 Nov 2018 12:12
  • comments 9
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Toto Wolff says that a power unit failure for Lewis Hamilton during the Brazilian Grand Prix was "imminent". The Briton won the race at Interlagos after Max Verstappen got tangled up with a backmarker during the Grand Prix at Interlagos.

Hamilton came over the radio to report that something was fishy with the engine while he was out on the track. Mercedes boss Wolff revealed that he received reports during the race from engineers that Hamilton's engine was about to give way, making for an anxious final stretch.

The Austrian said: "We have the engine guys here at the track and then we have them back at base, and what I could hear, because I have about ten radio channels open on one of the ten channels, the meeting channel, was 'Lewis Hamilton power unit failure imminent, it's going to fail within the next lap'.

"I put the volume up and I was like 'Excuse me, what?' And they said 'Yeah we've got a massive problem on the power unit, it's going to fail next lap'. It didn't fail next lap and I said 'When you guys have a minute, tell me what's happening". So I let them work.

"And they said 'Well our exhaust is just about to fail and we're overshooting all the temperature limits'. So I said 'What's the fix?' And they started to fix it by turning the whole thing down. The temperatures went down to below 1000C, to 980C, but it's still too high, and then he recovered another lap and that was truly horrible."

Hamilton had a gap of over five seconds to Verstappen after the Dutchman's collision with Esteban Ocon, but by the end of the race, the gap read just under one and a half seconds. Hamilton says that he was doing all he could inside the cockpit to ensure his engine stayed intact.

"There was a lot of great work done by the engineers here and back in the UK who were working on what they could turn down and tweak," he said. "So I was getting a lot of balls thrown at me while I was driving and trying to do all the other stuff, like switch changes, 'can you do a default setting?' and juggling that and they kept on throwing it at me.

"I was really grateful that the engine finished and for the last 10 laps I was really just shouting in the car 'come on baby, you can do it. Let's keep it together...' and willing on the car. You could never imagine how crazy that feeling is in the car when your heart rate is at, mine must have been above 190, those last 10 laps I was at flat-chat trying to hold on to a car, which was already struggling. I just felt so elated and so grateful."

Replies (9)

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  • Yeah right.. I don't believe a word Toto says, Mercedes love adding late race "drama" and it's always utter hogwash.

    • + 2
    • Nov 12 2018 - 15:27
  • Now Im not fond of Toto as of late, especially not after Monaco or after what he actually DID(!) to Bottas, but I kinda think there could be some truth to this. Remember how Hammy's engine smoked like a COPD patient on a tobacco buffet during quali, and how skittish Merc' seemed the entire race? Also, Hammy didnt really seem to have all that much pace on the straights. Now we all know the Merc' cars dont tend to do very well on the straights (hehehehe smirk smirk nudge nudge), but it struck me particularly much this race.

    • + 1
    • Nov 12 2018 - 18:03
  • blade

    Posts: 341

    Why would he lie? His reaction and the team's collective reaction to winning suggests there was a nervous moment or two at play. Like him or not - and Im on the fence with this one - he's bloody good at what he does chaps.

    • + 0
    • Nov 12 2018 - 18:35
  • sadosalo

    Posts: 198

    Toto's acting is a bad joke he want us to believe their is suspension with the Mercedes domination and Bottas blocking and protecting Lewis boring for the spectators. It is a total boring procession week in week out now for the last 5 years. Lewis is happy when Lewis wins and Lewis loves himself so much, even tells Max on the podium that he was wrong with the Ocon (Mercedes driver) accident, please.

    • + 1
    • Nov 12 2018 - 21:57
  • RogerF1

    Posts: 349

    But all that telemetry whizzing back and forth from Interlagos to Brackley turn it down turn it up press this try that .... is also what takes away the entertainment. Just drive the sodding car and give them a pit board, full stop!!!!!!!! Oh dear the engine blew up and 230 engineers sob into their microphones and keyboards. PS. Not just Merc. It’s becoming like an engineering research project, not a race.
    I believe Toto on this one but it illustrates the over complexity now of F1

    • + 1
    • Nov 13 2018 - 00:05
    • f1dave

      Posts: 579

      You sure got that right ! No real drivers anymore, just tech boys playing computer games.

      • + 1
      • Nov 13 2018 - 03:52
    • Yeah... Real racers would not care about blowing up a multi million dollar engine, and blowing up a chance to win the constructor's championship. Something something something the good ole days. Something something something so sad.

      • + 0
      • Nov 13 2018 - 08:17
    • I say... No? Yeah, I say no. Racing is racing, and they are still racing like madmen, as we saw in Interlagos. Difference is they have more to take into account nowadays, some of which I find to be way too exaggerated (engine wear being a notable example).

      • + 0
      • Nov 13 2018 - 08:21
    • RogerF1

      Posts: 349

      I take your point AJ but the manufacturers have massively increased the winning threshold to the detriment of more than 50% of the field. And you say about the good ole days, yes they were and still can be. I started my love of F1 with craft built slot car racing in the colours of champ to be Jochen Rindt so have a seen a lot of changes. What worries me now is the massive change to EV coming now where no new manufacturer is going to come whilst spending €Bn’s on production EV and Merc may well walk away soon as all the European and China builders are ditching ICE like a plague. Bernie’s “Green F1” revolution has been killed by the green thinking politicians. The racing has to become better and cheaper or wither away. I can see the OEM’s putting big money into FE as that is where there market is going to be. Maybe then F1 will revert back to the sports car base it used to be viz McL, Williams, Ferrari, Aston Martin even, and privateers eg RB, Sauber, etc.

      • + 0
      • Nov 13 2018 - 18:55

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