Mercedes F1 team says reliability is its priority, not team orders
|By Jonathan Noble and Ben Anderson||Thursday, July 31st 2014, 10:40 GMT|
The Mercedes Formula 1 team says fixing recent reliability problems is its main priority, rather than diffusing the team orders controversy at the recent Hungarian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton has failed to complete either of the last two qualifying sessions owing to technical issues with his car, and controversy flared during last Sunday's Hungaroring race when Hamilton ignored a request from Mercedes to let team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg pass him.
The Mercedes drivers were running alternate strategies owing to the fact Hamilton had to start from the pitlane after his car was stopped by fire caused by a fuel leak in the early stages of Q1 on Saturday.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said preventing problems like this and the brake failure Hamilton suffered at the German Grand Prix was the most important priority for his team.
"Reliability is our main concern," he said. "So we have to push flat out and understand why it is happening.
"We are trying to sort and fix problems and when you fix problems you are running behind, you are chasing and can't really catch up.
"We need to calm down, analyse everything properly and come back with more power after the summer break."
Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has backed Hamilton's decision to ignore team orders and Wolff has admitted the team could have handled the situation differently at the time.
Lauda also rubbished suggestions Hamilton's recent run of reliability issues and the team orders controversy meant Mercedes was favouring Rosberg.
"I hate this discussion," he said. "Both guys, from day one, have the same cars, everything is equal.
"Unfortunately the engine that failed was Lewis's. These things should not fail.
"We're going to fix them. We want both to have the same material and race each other the way they want."
RELIABILITY WOES SO FAR
Lewis Hamilton's spectacular failures in qualifying for the German and Hungarian Grands Prix highlighted how important reliability will be in the title fight this year.
Although the issues prompted wild talk of a conspiracy to deliberately favour Rosberg, the reality is that both drivers have suffered car failures during the campaign.
Here is the run down of the issues that both men have faced during 2014:
Australia: Engine stops in FP1; retires from race with spark plug insulator failure
China: FRIC issue in FP1 limits running
Canada: Retires from race after ERS-K failure and brake failure
Britain: MGU-K problem limits running in FP2
Germany: Brake disc failure in Q1
Hungary: Fuel leak in Q1 causes fire
China: Telemetry problem in race, finishes second
Spain: ERS problem limits FP1 running
Canada: ERS-K failure in race, finishes second
Austria: ERS problem limits FP1 running
Britain: Retires from race with gearbox problem
For a full analysis of the issues facing Mercedes after Formula 1's summer break, read this week's issue of AUTOSPORT magazine