Mercedes modifies F1 cars to avoid “massacre” on Austin’s bumps

Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff admits that his cars risked not finishing the US Grand Prix had it not taken measure to deal with the Austin circuit’s bumps.

Mercedes modifies F1 cars to avoid “massacre” on Austin’s bumps

Following concerns raised by MotoGP riders over the circuit's bumps earlier this month, circuit boss Bobby Epstein said before practice that “bumps aren't an issue for the [F1] cars”. 

But Wolff explained that the team was obliged to take steps not to “massacre” its cars after they bottomed on the Circuit of the America's aggressive bumps during practice.

A similar situation arose at rivals Red Bull Racing, where a cracked wing was spotted on Max Verstappen’s car.

With the permission of the FIA, the Milton Keynes outfit was able to strengthen parts on both of its cars ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session.

“The car was bottoming out quite heavy, and that breaks the car,” said Wolff.

“So we took some mitigating steps to not break it, or massacre it that hard, in order to survive the race. 

"Definitely [it was] a compromise for going faster on the track, but maybe a necessity to actually finish.”

In Saturday’s qualifying session Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to pole by 0.209 seconds, while his team-mate Valtteri Bottas was only fourth. The Finn carries a five-place penalty for a power unit change, and will start Sunday’s race from ninth.

Wolff conceded that Mercedes had lost out in comparison with its main rival after setting the pace in Friday practice with Bottas, but insisted that the team hadn’t come to a conclusion as to why.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

“We have lost performance from Friday to qualifying, clearly, relative performance,” Wolff said.

“We don't know yet where that is. And we haven't got the right explanations yet, but clearly, we haven't met our expectations.”

However, Wolff doesn't think that Hamilton's qualifying deficit will necessarily be representative of race performance and expects that, as on other occasions this year, fortunes could wing either way.

"If you look at the pure performance picture, both Red Bulls look very strong, and probably on paper, they are the cars that are ahead,” he said. 

"But we've seen many Sundays that took a very different direction because of the start scenario, or DNFs. And that's why anything goes tomorrow.

“Even though I tend to always say, 'Well the qualifying result is the result at the race', thank God it's not the case, and there is ground we can still conquer tomorrow.

“And hopefully get Valtteri back to sharp end of the grid.”

shares
comments

Related video

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert
Previous article

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

Next article

Wolff denies Cowell departure behind Mercedes F1 engine struggles

Wolff denies Cowell departure behind Mercedes F1 engine struggles
Load comments
What the FIA must do to restore F1’s credibility Plus

What the FIA must do to restore F1’s credibility

OPINION: The first stage of the 2022 Formula 1 pre-season is just over a month away, but the championship is still reeling from the controversial results of last year’s finale. The FIA acknowledges F1 has had its reputation dented as a result, so here’s how it could go about putting things right

The six F1 subplots to watch in 2022 as a new era begins Plus

The six F1 subplots to watch in 2022 as a new era begins

As Formula 1 prepares to begin a new era of technical regulations in 2022, Autosport picks out six other key elements to follow this season

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2022
Why newly-retired Raikkonen won't miss F1 Plus

Why newly-retired Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Autosport on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2022
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup Plus

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. Autosport breaks down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems Plus

Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway. But instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Plus

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Plus

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022