Mercedes chief designer John Owen: “COVID came at just the right time”

© Daimler AG

Mercedes’ chief designer John Owen says the delayed start of the 2020 season gave the team time to deal with engine reliability issues.

During 2020 pre-season testing Mercedes experienced several engine issues that, unfortunately, weren’t completely solved by the time the season opening Australian Grand Prix rolled around.

Mercedes’ John Owen says the subsequent cancellation of the race due to the coronavirus pandemic, was helpful for the team.

“To be honest, COVID came at just the right time,” Owen said.

“We still had some serious problems with our engine before the start of race one. Our High Performance Powertrains division had just discovered a persistent problem and was still looking for a solution.

“They literally needed one more day, but that time was not there before Australia.”

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However after it was discovered that a McLaren team member tested positive for COVID-19, the race was cancelled and the season was postponed until July when the Austrian Grand Prix was held.

“The racing season therefore did not start in Australia. Pretty soon after that our engine department managed to solve the biggest problems.

“But it could have been quite painful if it had been the first race. We were quite lucky.

“We then brought a new specification of the engine to the Austrian GP, with mainly some reliability upgrades,” concluded Owen.

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