Mercedes mods F1 cars to avoid ‘massacre’ at Austin bumps


Following concerns expressed by MotoGP riders about the bumps on the circuit earlier this month, circuit boss Bobby Epstein said ahead of practice that “bumps are not a problem for the driver. [F1] cars “.

But Wolff explained that the team was under pressure to take steps not to “slaughter” their cars after they hit the aggressive bumps of the Circuit of the America during practice.

A similar situation occurred at rivals Red Bull Racing, where a cracked wing was spotted on Max Verstappen’s car.

With FIA clearance, Milton Keynes’ team were able to reinforce the parts of their two cars ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session.

“The car was bottoming out pretty heavy, and that breaks the car,” Wolff said.

“So we took mitigating measures not to break it or slaughter it so hard, in order to survive the race.

“Absoutely [it was] a compromise to go faster on the track, but perhaps a necessity to really finish.

In Saturday’s qualifying session, Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton for pole by 0.209 seconds, while teammate Valtteri Bottas was only fourth. The Finn is fined five places for a powertrain change and will start Sunday’s race from ninth place.

Wolff admitted Mercedes lost to their main rivals after setting the pace in Friday’s practice with Bottas, but insisted the team had not come to a conclusion as to why.

Toto Wolff, Team Director and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Photo By: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

“We lost performance from Friday in qualifying, clearly relative performance,” Wolff said.

“We don’t know where it is yet. And we don’t have the right explanations yet, but clearly, we haven’t met our expectations.

However, Wolff does not believe that Hamilton’s qualifying deficit will necessarily be representative of racing performance and expects that, as on other occasions this year, fortunes may soar one way or the other. the other.

“If you look at the pure performance, both Red Bulls look very strong, and probably on paper the cars are ahead,” he said.

“But we’ve seen a lot of Sundays take a very different direction because of the start scenario, or give up. And that’s why it’s all happening tomorrow.

“Even though I tend to always say, ‘Well the result of qualifying is the result of the race’, thank goodness that’s not the case, and there is some ground that we can still conquer tomorrow. .

“And I hope to bring Valtteri back to the end of the grid.”

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