Horner: Mercedes' struggles with F1 engine reliability "very unusual"

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Mercedes’ current engine reliability struggles are “very unusual” and could play a “key role” in deciding the Formula 1 title race.

Horner: Mercedes' struggles with F1 engine reliability "very unusual"
Listen to this article

Mercedes revealed on Friday ahead of the United States Grand Prix that Valtteri Bottas would be taking a third grid penalty in four races after having a new engine fitted to his car, as the team manages an ongoing issue. 

Mercedes customer teams Aston Martin and Williams have also been forced into engine penalties for this weekend, leaving Sebastian Vettel and George Russell at the back of the grid. Bottas will drop five places back from his qualifying position.

Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff said on Friday that the issue was “not trivial” and had left the manufacturer “hanging on for dear life in supplying all customers” as it tries to understand the problem. 

Any engine reliability setbacks could have a particular impact on Lewis Hamilton, who finds himself trailing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by just six points at the top of the drivers’ championship with six races remaining.

Horner said that reliability “could play a key role” in the championship, adding: “Reliability can be decisive. You’ve got to be at the end of the race.”

Bottas took a fresh power unit in both Italy and Russia, meaning the additional engine in Austin will leave him with a large pool of available parts heading into the closing stages of the season.

Horner felt Mercedes was “weighing up that risk versus reward” of penalties versus added performance by having more engines to cover the remaining races, but said it was “very unusual for Mercedes” to be struggling with reliability.

“They’ve obviously been the benchmark of reliability the last six or seven years,” Horner said.

“So it’s unusual that they are in this situation.”

Verstappen moved onto a new power unit at the Russian Grand Prix which Red Bull hoped would see him to the end of the season without any further penalties.

“We’re hoping to get it through to the end of the year with what we have, but that’s our assumption,” Horner said.

“I think the situations can change quite quickly, as you can see, so you know, you can never say never.

“But we feel that by taking a penalty in Sochi, it got us back into a reasonable position.”

Read Also:

2021 has seen Red Bull enter the F1 title fight for the first time since its last championship win eight years ago, aided in part by engine partner Honda’s gains for this season.

As well as Verstappen’s own title aspirations, Red Bull is also in the hunt for the constructors’ championship, trailing Mercedes by 36 points.

"I think we are pushing them hard this year,” Horner said.

“We’ve really thrown everything at this season and at pretty much every race we’ve managed to give them a hard time.

“So when you consider how dominant they’ve been the last seven years and that this car is largely a carry-over of last year’s car, which was arguably their most dominant car, it’s testimony to the [Red Bull] team.

“They’ve got ourselves into this position to be challenging them with six races to go.”

shares
comments

Related video

Hamilton: F1's popularity in US enjoying "steepest rise" amid Liberty push
Previous article

Hamilton: F1's popularity in US enjoying "steepest rise" amid Liberty push

Next article

Why long-run times should please Red Bull in Austin F1 battle

Why long-run times should please Red Bull in Austin F1 battle
Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022? Prime

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Who was the fastest driver in 2022? Everyone has an opinion, but what does the stopwatch say? Obviously, differing car performance has an effect on ultimate laptime – but it’s the relative speed of each car/driver package that’s fascinating and enlightening says ALEX KALINAUCKAS

Nico Hulkenberg: Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return Prime

Nico Hulkenberg: Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return

He has more starts without a podium than anyone else in Formula 1 world championship history, but Nico Hulkenberg is back for one more shot with Haas. After spending three years on the sidelines, the revitalised German is aiming to prove to his new team what the F1 grid has been missing.

Formula 1
Jan 29, 2023
Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss Prime

Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss

OPINION: Fred Vasseur has spent only a few weeks as team principal for the Ferrari Formula 1 team, but is already intent on taking the Scuderia back to the very top. And despite it being arguably the most demanding job in motorsport, the Frenchman is relishing the challenge

Formula 1
Jan 27, 2023
The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023 Prime

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023

Changes to the regulations for season two of Formula 1's ground-effects era aim to smooth out last year’s troubles and shut down loopholes. But what areas have been targeted, and what impact will this have?

Formula 1
Jan 26, 2023
Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history? Prime

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history?

Who are the quickest drivers in Formula 1 history? Luke Smith asked a jury of experienced and international panel of experts and F1 insiders. Some of them have worked closely with F1’s fastest-ever drivers – so who better to vote on our all-time top 50? We’re talking all-out speed here rather than size of trophy cabinet, so the results may surprise you…

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2023
One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1 Prime

One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1

OPINION: During what is traditionally a very quiet time of year in the Formula 1 news cycle, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been generating headlines. He’s been commenting on massive topics in a championship that loves them, but also addressing necessary smaller changes too. Here we suggest a further refinement that would be a big boon to fans

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
How can McLaren keep hold of Norris? Prime

How can McLaren keep hold of Norris?

Lando Norris is no longer the young cheeky-chappy at McLaren; he’s now the established ace. And F1's big guns will come calling if the team can’t give him a competitive car. Here's what the team needs to do to retain its prize asset

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make? Prime

What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make?

While a quick pitstop can make all the difference to the outcome of a Formula 1 race, most team managers say consistency is more important than pure speed. MATT KEW analyses the fastest pitstops from last season to see which ones – if any – made a genuine impact

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2023