Did Mercedes turn down the power on Hamilton’s engine?


Immediately after qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, Mercedes revealed they had concerns regarding Lewis Hamilton’s pole winning car, but pundits suspect a smokescreen to disguise the fact that the team turned down the power on the world champion’s power unit.

Notably Hamilton’s body language as he stopped in parc ferme after claiming pole position at Monza spoke louder than words – Ferrari were far closer than he expected.

The dominant Silver Arrows entered the weekend in Italy with a new specification of ‘power unit’ that is the basis of Mercedes’ development direction for 2016.

Making use of the remaining seven in-season ‘tokens’, boss Toto Wolff had explained: “Because there are no more tests in the year, we have to test in the race. We cannot expect an entirely trouble-free weekend.”


Indeed, the new unit fitted to Nico Rosberg’s car had to be replaced with an older unit before qualifying, and the German now lines up just fourth.

Rosberg openly blamed the ‘old’ engine for his three tenth gap to Hamilton, but team chairman Niki Lauda disputed that.

Asked to compare the ‘new’ with the ‘old’, he told Bild newspaper: “You cannot express it in horse power because the engine is connected to the electric power. The new engine is perhaps a tenth of a second (better).”

But other paddock sources dispute Lauda’s summary, arguing that Mercedes will have turned Hamilton’s engine down for qualifying due to the Rosberg glitch.

Mercedes-Monza 2015 Rosberg

At the same time, Ferrari has taken a step forward with its new engine for Monza, as Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel nibbled at Hamilton’s heels just over two tenths behind.

Wolff agrees that Ferrari, it seems, now has the ability to “turn up the power” on a Saturday more than in the past.

Overnight the problem with Rosberg’s engine was diagnosed and “traced to a leak in the cooling system”, Mercedes announced. The issue was therefore “not a problem with the engine itself”.

“The (Rosberg) power unit will be inspected in the coming days to decide if it can be used again at future races,” the team added.

Meanwhile Mercedes have now admitted that concerns with regards to Hamilton’s power unit were unfounded, after it was given a thorough inspection after qualifying.