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'Rare' Hamilton failure not concerning Mercedes

Mercedes are still unsure what exactly caused Lewis Hamilton's power unit failure during the Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton Australia
To news overview © XPBimages

Mercedes technical director James Allison has revealed that the Silver Arrows remain unaware of what caused Lewis Hamilton's "rare" power unit failure, which led to him retiring from the recent Australian Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion suddenly retired on Lap 17 whilst running towards the bottom of the points, with him having pulled his car to the side of the Albert Park Circuit on the exit of Turn 10.

A Mercedes power unit failure is not something which is often witnessed, although George Russell also retired from an engine failure in Melbourne last season.

To understand the root cause of Hamilton's retirement, the power unit from his car has been sent to the team's engine facility in Brixworth.

“We do not. The power units will return to the safe hands of the guys at Brixworth, who will be able to figure out what let go," Allison said in Mercedes' post-race debrief video.

“All we know is the symptoms at the time, which was a rapid loss of oil pressure followed by a shutdown of the engine to protect it.

“When you know you’ve got catastrophic loss like that, the best thing you can do for the future is kill it there and then, and then you have not got like a load of molten metal.

“You have normally got a fairly clear evidence chain of what caused it and then that lets you work better for the future. So, we do not know yet, [but] Brixworth and HPP [Mercedes High Performance Powertrains] will do in short order.

“No doubt as soon as we know then they will jump to with their characteristic energy to make sure that any risk that happens on any other engine is mitigated as best we can.”

'Pace' remains key focus

Given how rare Mercedes' engines fail, the Brackley-based side are remaining focused on the pace of the W15, rather than reliability.

With Russell having also retired following a heavy crash on the penultimate lap, the 2024 Australian GP was the first race since the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix where both cars had failed to finish.

It adds to what has been a terrible start to the season for Mercedes, who are not fazed by their setback in the most recent round.

“DNFs are thankfully a rare thing for us,” he commented. “We have drivers who are particularly good at keeping it on the island and our reliability overall is a strong point.

“It is unusual to have a double DNF like that. It is certainly not something we expect to punctuate our season. What we are more focused on is the pace because if you get the pace sorted out the season will be okay whatever happens.

“The baseline reliability of the car, our procedural approach to it and the skill of our drivers will tend to keep you clear of DNFs. All our focus is on the pace knowing that those other foundations are in decent shape.”

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