Mercedes’ head of strategy James Vowles has revealed that the Anglo-German team is working „day and night” to solve the gearbox issues that affected the team’s otherwise dominant performance ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix.
Despite dominating every practice session, the qualifying and the race itself, Mercedes encountered technical woes during the season-opener at Spielberg. Both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton have been asked by their race engineers to avoid using the kerbs in order to protect their gearboxes.
In a post-race video debrief released by Mercedes after the Austrian Grand Prix, Vowles said that the issues related to the gearbox are track-related as the high speeds carried over the ’aggressive’ kerbs present the suspension parts with huge loads.
"The reality behind it is that the Austrian circuit is very, very aggressive, especially with the kerbs. It puts a lot of loads into the suspension members and into the car. You have to use the kerbs in order to get the lap time out of it, but those kerbs are also generating a lot of vibrations in the car and a lot of load in the car.”
The Briton does not rule out that the problem turns out to cause headaches at this weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix again when the field returns to action at the Red Bull Ring.
"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.
"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.
According to Vowles, the problem has been identified by Mercedes very early and a group of engineers started working out a remedy to solve the issue, but it could take more time to fully get rid of the problem.
"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,” said Vowles.