Formula 1

Mercedes’ Vowles discusses engine cut-outs in Mexico that caused “small amount of performance loss for both drivers”

2 Mins read
Credit: Daimler AG

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Strategy Director James Vowles gave his insight on the engine cut-out issues the team faced at the Mexican Grand Prix, which was ultimately caused by the high elevation of Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

At over two-thousand metres above sea level, the circuit’s high altitude has a considerable impact on the performance of the cars– and the power unit in particular. Vowles said that engines are typically “mapped” for common sea level conditions and therefore not as well suited to the thinner air of Mexico City. 

“We were suffering a little bit with engine cuts and here is the reason why– you generally map the engine for the conditions it is most used in which is sea level, that’s where most of the racing takes place, when you suddenly go to these levels of altitude you are in a very different condition.”

“Instead of having an engine that is really highly tuned you are back into a condition where you have to do lots of work with the Power Unit in a very short space of time to try and map out these irregularities. I am confident all teams will suffer this it won’t be unique to ourselves.”

This issue was heightened under the stress of qualifying, where George Russell took second place and Lewis Hamilton came in third, both within reach of pole position at a venue where Mercedes were quite strong. 

“It’s typically accentuated in qualifying because you are very quickly and rapidly applying throttle pedal which means that the turbo and fuelling systems need to keep up with that change very quickly and normally it’s better in the race.”

When it came to race day, the Mercedes pair took on an alternative tyre strategy to polesitter Max Verstappen in an effort to challenge for the win. Hamilton ended up finishing second while Russell took fourth in part due to their strategy call. Vowles said that their engine struggles did, however, persist on race day, and that they hope to “tune out” these issues for the future. 

“We were hoping that the race would not be as bad and it comes from a factor when the drivers are requesting throttle and picking up throttle it was simply not delivering the power they request quick enough, so enough fuel or enough air.”

“It can be tuned out in time and where we got to in the race wasn’t a bad position, I think qualifying was worse, but still enough to cause a small amount of performance loss for both drivers.”

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