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Mercedes: New F1 engine power boost won’t last long

Mercedes believes that the power advantage Lewis Hamilton has got from a fresh Formula 1 engine will not last long.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, 1st position, celebrates on his way to Parc Ferme

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, 1st position, celebrates on his way to Parc Ferme

Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

The world champion’s straightline speed performance at the Brazilian Grand Prix proved critical in allowing him to charge from the back of the grid in the Interlagos sprint race to take victory in Sunday’s main event.

Rival Red Bull admits it is still seeking answers as to just how Mercedes was so fast on the straights, as it probes ways that the German car manufacturer could be flexing its rear wing to reduce drag.

New F1 engines deliver more power than older builds, which has been in evidence at Mercedes this season when the degradation across the life of a power unit has been noticeable.

Even though Mercedes is more confident about the reliability troubles that have been a worry in recent weeks, it still expects the power advantage it has from the fresh engine to slowly disappear.

Team boss Toto Wolff said: "There is a performance drop-off with any engine.

“It means that, even though we'll be racing with the engine until the end of the season, we'll certainly lose performance."

The Mercedes call to fit another power unit at Hamilton in Brazil has left the team confident it can now make it through to the end of the campaign without needing any further changes.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“Yes, absolutely,” said Wolff. “We are going to the end of the season now with this engine. We still have questions over reliability, but we hope we have had the right answers, and we’re going to the end.”

Mercedes trackside engineer director Andrew Shovlin explained that the choice of when to take the power unit was triggered by the fact that a straightline speed boost at Interlagos would be especially valuable.

“There wasn’t a technical reason to change, as in we didn’t think we were at risk of failing and we don’t think we were at risk of failing, although these power units are running awfully hard and you can never take reliability for granted,” he said.

“There is an attraction to take a penalty at a sprint race because if you can win on a Saturday that is more points you can score and you can lessen a deficit. It was also a track that we hoped we could overtake at and recover positions, and we proved that in the last two days.

“Also you want to get these things in the pool because, when you get to Abu Dhabi, you are not going to get the advantage of it for more than a single race.

"So there are a number of reasons and it is never black and white, but on reflection we picked a good circuit to do it.”

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