Lewis Hamilton admits it’s “not his job” to take on any worries Mercedes may have regarding their engines with the seven-time world champion looking to wrap up an eighth world title across the remaining six races of the 2021 season. Reports suggest that Mercedes were recently forced to take their entire stock back to their factory in Brixworth for analysis, with claims Valtteri Bottas had lost the use of one of his new engines from his pool
Bottas was hit with back-to-back penalties in Italy and Russia after the team took new engines for the Finn, with hefty penalties for the 31-year-old.
Hamilton was next up to be hit with a ten-place grid penalty at the Turkish Grand Prix, recovering from 11th to fifth in Istanbul.
Despite the recovery drive, Max Verstappen, Hamilton’s main title rival, was able to take back control of the driver’s standings once again, taking a six-point advantage to Austin in a few weeks’ time,
But with the championship on a knife-edge, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff already admitted one non-finish could see the championship decided, for either team.
Yet Hamilton was insistent his job didn’t include worrying about too much behind the scenes.
“I don’t really give any energy to it,” Hamilton said after the race. It’s not my job to worry about that stuff, so I let the guys focus on that, worry about it.
“My engine is in good condition. My first engine, I think, did six races. We still have engine two, and I think engine three is still there.
“As far as I’m aware, hopefully, I don’t have to [use a fifth engine], but I can’t predict what’s up ahead.”
More concerns were raised however on Friday ahead of the race when Wolff refused to rule out another engine penalty for Hamilton this season, with the seven-time world champion trailing Verstappen by six points.
When asked by Sky Sports F1 if the team can preempt any engine failures ahead of time, Wolff replied: “Yeah, we are not looking at stockpiling good engines that would be silly and then taking such a penalty.
“It’s just we’ve seen over the course of the season that we had some little gremlins, that we weren’t completely sure where they came from and how much performance they could potentially cost.
“And so we’d rather have a new engine in the pool that we understand that can possibly go longer.”
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remaining after Turkey, Wolff added: “I would very much hope not but it’s seven tough races that are in front of us.
“Let’s see how the points pan out and I would never say no but normally four engines looks quite sufficient.”
Thanks to engine concerns, Mercedes and Hamilton face a tough call during the race, missing the key opportunity to pit their driver from third place for a new set of intermediate tyres.
The 36-year-old had battled past Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to get closer to his main title rival Verstappen in third.
However, after initially missing the opportune window for fresh intermediates with Hamilton refusing to pit, the seven-time world champion left it too late and quickly began to lose grip.
The Briton was forced to pit on lap 51 of 58, but it was too little too late to fight back with his tyres reportedly “graining” and Hamilton had to settle for fifth.
“The tyres are bald so you don’t know how far they’re going to go and so there is definitely the worry of the life of the tyre but also I wasn’t really that fussed at the end there,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.
“I was struggling, had low grip, I’m not really sure why. But then all of a sudden I would have not bad pace.
“So I was losing performance to the guys behind but I think probably in hindsight I should have either stayed out or come in much earlier because when you come in with eight laps to go, you don’t have time to go through the graining phase of that medium tyre on a drying track.
“So then I went through this whole sliding phase where I nearly lost more positions so a bit frustrating but it is what it is.
“It felt good to be in third and I thought if I could just hold on to this, it’s a great result from 11th. Fifth is worse, but it could be worse.”