Mercedes denies wheel rims caused 'F3' performance in Mexico

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insists that his team's decision to race without its cooling rear wheel rims did not contribute to its W09 behaving like "an F3 car" in the Mexican Grand Prix

Mercedes denies wheel rims caused 'F3' performance in Mexico

Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas struggled with their tyres at the Mexico City race on Sunday, which left them unable to challenge the Red Bull and Ferrari cars ahead.

With those difficulties coming just a week after similar troubles at Austin, when Mercedes also did not race its new wheel rim design, it prompted suggestions the team may have suffered without the extra help from its controversial concept.

But Wolff is adamant the wheel rim issue is a red herring, because Mercedes' biggest headache in Mexico was not at the back of the car.

"The biggest problem today was the front left," he said when asked whether the team had been made vulnerable without the wheel rim concept. "It was nothing to do with it."

Mercedes has elected to race without its wheel rim design, which features small holes to help cooling, for the past two races to avoid any potential risk of a protest from Ferrari.

Ahead of the Mexican GP, Mercedes asked for a ruling from the stewards to get a definitive answer on the rims' legality, and it was told that the FIA was totally happy.

However, to be totally safe and avoid any chance of a rival lodging a post-race complaint, Mercedes steered clearing of running them again.

The FIA is now likely to issue a technical directive ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix to help clear up the matter.

Wolff said the Mexico performance was not out of the ordinary for a campaign where the team had sometimes struggled, but had been often helped by Hamilton's driving brilliance.

"He has been the differentiator," added Wolff. "Our car was the fastest at times, then not the fastest at other times. Sometimes it was an F3 car, like today [in Mexico].

"I don't think we had one single lap where we actually switched the tyre on. I don't think our car drove the tyre.

"And I have no explanation. We will be asking for explanation because these swings are just difficult."

shares
comments
Mexican GP winner Verstappen admits he was overdriving early in '18

Previous article

Mexican GP winner Verstappen admits he was overdriving early in '18

Next article

Sebastian Vettel: 2018 could be my most difficult Formula 1 season

Sebastian Vettel: 2018 could be my most difficult Formula 1 season
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes
Author James Roberts
The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate Plus

The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate

It's been a tough start to Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin F1 career, with a lack of pre-season testing mileage followed by an incident-packed Bahrain GP. But two key underlying factors mean a turnaround is no guarantee

The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition Plus

The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition

In 2017 new F1 technical regulations were supposed to add drama - and peg Mercedes back. STUART CODLING looks at the car which, while troubled, set the stage for the wide-bodied Formula 1 era

The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return Plus

The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return

Three weeks is a long time in Formula 1, but in the reshaped start to the 2021 season the teams head to Imola to pick things up after the frenetic Bahrain opener. Here's what to look out for and the developments to follow at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Plus

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. BEN ANDERSON looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

Formula 1
Apr 12, 2021
The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Plus

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says NIGEL ROEBUCK

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of car-racing titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of car-racing titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace

Max Verstappen’s star quality in Formula 1 is clear. Now equipped with a Red Bull car that is, right now, the world title favourite and the experience to support his talent, could 2021 be the Dutchman’s year to topple the dominant force of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes?

Formula 1
Apr 9, 2021
Are we at peak F1 right now? Plus

Are we at peak F1 right now?

For many, many years Formula 1 has strived to do and to be better on all fronts. With close competition, a growing fanbase, a stable political landscape and rules in place to encourage sustainability, 2021 is on course to provide an unexpected peak

Formula 1
Apr 8, 2021
How crucial marginal calls will decide the Red Bull vs Mercedes battle in F1 2021 Plus

How crucial marginal calls will decide the Red Bull vs Mercedes battle in F1 2021

The longer Red Bull can maintain a performance edge over Mercedes, the better the odds will be in the team’s favour against the defending world champions. But as the Bahrain Grand Prix showed, many more factors will be critical in the outcome of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship

Formula 1
Apr 7, 2021