Mercedes have admitted the serious electronic issue that affected both of its cars’ gearboxes in last week’s Formula 1 opener at the Red Bull Ring will reappear in the current spec of car if the team cannot solve the issue.
While fairly straightforward, the Austrian circuit is renown for being notoriously aggressive on car reliability especially due to its serrated kerbs that haunt the edge of the circuit.
Both race winner Valtteri Bottas and teammate Lewis Hamilton were given critical messages over the radio warning the pair to manage a serious gearbox issue caused by abusing the circuit’s kerbs.
Team boss Toto Wolff admitted after the race the issue is an apparent feature of the car and is at risk of resurfacing itself this weekend.
“The result of the first race looks good on paper, but the reality is that we were fortunate to finish the race,” said Wolff.
“Reliability caused us real concern and it is something we are working on as our highest priority.
“In a shorter season with a yet to be determined number of races, every point counts, so we need to improve quickly on that front.
“Our main problems were with the electrical components of the gearbox, caused by the aggressive kerbs in Spielberg.”
The issue was subtly noticeable on Friday but became a significant issue as the Grand Prix wore on.
Mercedes’ head of strategy James Vowles says the team is facing a “complex problem” concerning the gearbox but remained silent on whether the new components will do anything to nurse the issue.
“Whilst the Grand Prix was taking place, they were already doing their utmost to try and understand what the problems were to get ahead of the issue before we get into this week,” said Vowles.
“We know that if we don’t get on top of these issues it will be a problem again in just a few days’ time. And the reality behind it is that it is a problem that could have cost one or both cars the opportunity to finish the race on Sunday. Equally, it’s a complex problem.
“If it was something straightforward, we would have done our best to fix it last week and clearly we didn’t.
“All we know right now is there are electrical elements of the gearboxes that are suffering, and we need to do more in order to get them through a Grand Prix.”
Bottas and Hamilton will have their first opportunity to trial the new components in the opening practice session which kicks off from 9 pm NZT July 10.