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Toto Wolff

Wolff wary of DNF risk: It would be a killer for the championship

With just six races remaining in the 2021 World Championship battle, Toto Wolff admits that the team had to take action to avoid potential reliability problems at the Turkish Grand Prix.

Toto Wolff
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To news overview © Mercedes

Toto Wolff admits that concerns about reliability, rather than tactics, were the main reason behind Lewis Hamilton's engine change at the Turkish Grand Prix, given the damage that a DNF could cause to their championship bid.

Mercedes opted to fit Hamilton's car with a new Internal Combustion Engine for the race at Istanbul Park, meaning that the Briton was hit with a 10-place grid penalty.

Given that the team only changed one element, rather than the whole power unit, they avoided the punishment of being sent to the back of the grid.

Whilst some may question whether Turkey was selected tactically as the best track to make this move, Wolff insists that the team had no choice after looking at the data.

"We had to do it," the Team Principal told Sky Sports. "We saw some data on the Internal Combustion unit that didn't look very promising, and a DNF is a total killer for the championship."

The gap between Hamilton and title rival Max Verstappen at the top of the Drivers' standings is now just six points, with Verstappen currently in the lead. This highlights how much of an effect a non-finish could have.

Hamilton has only recorded one DNF so far in 2021, which occurred at the Italian Grand Prix due to his collision with Verstappen. Meanwhile the Dutchman has had three non-finishes; Monza, Baku due to a tyre failure, and Silverstone, the scene of his first crash with Hamilton.

The Briton is now on his fourth ICE of the season, and Wolff has not ruled out the possibility of having to use another, though hopes that the current one will be sufficient.

"It [fourth ICE] can last until the end of the season but there could be a moment where we say is it worth taking a fresh one because the other one is still at risk," Wolff said.

"So this is something that is going to be really a work in progress."

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: Do Mercedes need to assert more authority over Hamilton?

It's time for the latest episode of the RacingNews365 podcast, with F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Thomas Maher and Mike Seymour discussing Lewis Hamilton's strategy drama and much, much more from the Turkish Grand Prix.

F1 2021 Turkish Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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