Mercedes: 'Conservative' engine modes not decisive in Abu Dhabi GP loss

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Mercedes has confirmed their engines were turned right down but say it wasn't decisive to their Abu Dhabi Grand Prix loss.

On Saturday, following Sergio Perez's failure at the first Bahrain race and George Russell's issue in Friday Practice at Yas Marina, team boss Toto Wolff admitted a "gremlin" with the MGU-K had forced the team to act.

And that was confirmed by trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin on Monday.

"I would say that rather than being acutely aware of a specific problem, we are operating the power unit in a way that is as conservative as we can be in order to try and avoid a problem," he said.

"But when you don't understand exactly the string of issues, all you can do is just be a bit cautious.

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"During the race, we were trying to reduce the duty marginally, but you're right, the drivers wouldn't have necessarily been aware of it.

"It was just something we were trying to manage in the background."

Indeed, both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were surprised upon hearing their engines were turned down, admitting they didn't feel any difference.

And the Mercedes chief confirmed the loss of performance was minimal.

"[It was] not an amount that's going to determine the race result," Shovlin said, with Max Verstappen beating Bottas by 15 seconds on Sunday.

"You're talking significantly less than a tenth of a second, so not the difference between first and second."

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As a result, team boss Wolff believes Mercedes' first loss at Yas Marina in the hybrid era was simply a warning and punishment for a tough weekend.

“Everybody has weaknesses and we weren’t on our ‘A-game’ this weekend,” he said. “That’s simply a fact, and Red Bull won fair and square.

“You can see that also Albon had a very good race. They had a very good race car and it shows that when their car is in the right place, both drivers [can] do a really good job.

"Probably Albon’s pace was quicker than ours at the end so it could have ended even worse for us.

"We are leaving this race with a slap on the wrist," he concluded.