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Formula 1

Mercedes taking grid penalties to avoid 'catastrophic' engine failure

Mercedes are working to balance performance and reliability as the title race enters its closing stages.

Bottas USA
To news overview © Mercedes

Mercedes say they are doing their best to balance performance and reliability ahead of the final races of the 2021 F1 season, following several engine changes for their works cars and customer teams.

Valtteri Bottas has been plagued by grid penalties in recent races, with the Finn moving on to his sixth ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) of the campaign, three more than the permitted number.

Lewis Hamilton is running a fourth engine, with another change not being ruled out, while Mercedes-supplied Aston Martin and Williams also exceeded the limit on several components at the United States Grand Prix.

Amid their reliability concerns, Mercedes' Head of Strategy, James Vowles, talked through the compromises the team are making in terms of performance against reliability, with five races still to run.

"We are balancing performance versus reliability to the end of the season," said Vowles in Mercedes' US GP debrief.

"One failure to finish a race because of a chassis or power unit fault would be catastrophic for the championship and, as a result of that, we are managing that in the best way possible to the end of the year.

"In the case of Valtteri, that meant taking one further ICE to make sure we had absolutely the best compromise.

"As to whether it improved his performance, yes, a small amount, but it is more about the balance across the remainder of the season than one event.

"So this change, as painful as it was during the Austin Grand Prix, will actually pay dividends across the next few races."

Red Bull cut the gap to Mercedes in the Constructors' standings to 23 points with a double podium finish in Austin, while Bottas was limited to sixth position following his latest grid penalty.

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