Mercedes know Hamilton DNF a 'no-go' for F1 title hopes amid engine concerns

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Mercedes admit a race retirement is a "no-go" for them and Red Bull as they assess a potential engine change for Lewis Hamilton.

The UK-based German manufacturer has been the benchmark in power unit reliability throughout the hybrid era, but in recent races has seen both works team drivers and others at customer teams suffer issues, costing them grid penalties.

In the case of Valtteri Bottas, he has started near the back of the field in the past two races due to new components, with the power unit he took at Monza reportedly no longer usable due to problems that emerged in Sochi.

"At the moment we are reassessing the performance of the power unit as we have question marks and therefore haven’t decided which engines would go back into the pool," said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

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"That's why we're having a few balls in the air because you need to have the right balance between making sure that you really sort out all the gremlins that you have in the power unit, not only for this year but also for next year's power unit.

"Definitely, we are in a phase of assessment on how to continue the season in terms of power units."

For Lewis Hamilton, perfect reliability is essential in his championship duel with Max Verstappen, particularly as the Dutchman took his final planned fresh engine in Russia and still finished P2 despite starting P20.

It is anticipated the Briton will take a fourth engine resulting in a grid penalty, but he is working to delay it for as long as possible.

“I’ve lost one engine, Valtteri’s had several, and there have been others that Mercedes have seen up and down the paddock,” Hamilton said.

“So I’m trying to treat my engines with absolute care when I’m driving, in terms of how much I’m gassing it, in terms of revving the nuts off the thing, just really trying to minimise the laps that I do.

“But who knows? I can’t control the future.”


Mercedes say it's possible Hamilton could take that new engine at this weekend's Turkish Grand Prix but insist there's no plan.

“At the moment, we go through it race by race and see how the performance and durability of the engine develops,” team boss Wolff told RTL.

“If we do switch power units, it will happen spontaneously. We would have just as much of a disadvantage as Red Bull had at Sochi.

"Reliability versus performance is always the fine line you need to get right," Wolff added.

"A DNF is a no-go for the championship. Neither we nor our competitors can afford a zero-points race weekend or have any comfort in the current situation.

"There is no gap in terms of points, and I think this battle is going to go very long."