Lando Norris reveals the advice Lewis Hamilton gave him
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Red Bull’s Helmut Marko believes he knows why there could be some concerns regarding Mercedes power units this season, as Lewis Hamilton awaits his engine change fate this weekend in Turkey.
Mercedes and Red Bull have both endured power unit headaches this season, with three engines permitted across 22 races.
Red Bull’s Verstappen was forced to take new components ahead of the Russian Grand Prix after a huge shunt at the British Grand Prix rendered one of his useless, whereas Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes took his fifth engine at Sochi, with back-to-back penalties across consecutive weekends after one of the engines was sent back to Brixworth following an issue.
Hamilton meanwhile has yet to take a fourth engine but it’s looking increasingly likely the seven-time world champion may have to, which would automatically relegate the Briton to the back of the grid.
But with the championship currently on a knife-edge, Mercedes are in the precarious position of working out when might be the best time for the championship leader to start from the back, especially when there are only seven races remaining of the season.
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The engines have been run ragged this season with the introduction of sprint qualifying, with many teams electing to take new components up and down the grid.
But Marko believes he has a theory as to why Mercedes are so concerned about their specific engine.
“Mercedes used to have an easy time of it,” Marko told Auto Motor und Sport.
“They used the power for the first few laps and then ran the engines in ‘cruising’ gear.
“That’s no longer possible, now they often have to drive in a higher mode and that’s where the problems come in.”
The Mercedes boss Toto Wolff raised concerns ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix when questions were raised when his team-mate took a shock decision to take a fifth power unit ahead of the race in Sochi.
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“I think we haven’t only made the cautionary engine change because we felt we wanted to stockpile, but also because we want to understand the engine’s performance – and that has given us some question marks.” Wolff said.
Yet, when pushed on what the question marks were, Wolff refused to respond directly: “We’re just taking it one race weekend at a time – and [then we’ll] reassess the performance of the power units and then take decisions.
“At the moment we are reassessing the performance of the power units because we have question marks, and therefore haven’t decided which engines would go back into the pool.”
Adding more concerns for teams, Formula One will have a blanket freeze on engine development covering 2022-2024, with that design then frozen until at least 2025, with added work for staff.
“That’s why we’re having a few balls in the air,” explained Wolff, “because you need to have the right balance between making sure that you really sort out all the gremlins that you have in the power unit, not only this year but also for next year’s power unit.
“So definitely we are in a phase of assessment, [of] how to continue this season in terms of power units.”
Hamilton leads the standings by two points over Max Verstappen heading to Istanbul, with Mercedes yet to make a decision on the seven-time world champion’s engine.
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