Mercedes explains Lewis Hamilton’s Mexican GP “engine cuts”

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Lewis Hamilton could be heard during the Mexican Grand Prix weekend complaining over the radio about problems with his engine. Mercedes explains the issue.

During Mexican Grand Prix Qualifying, and the race, Lewis Hamilton could be heard complaining to his team over the team radio about his engine.

In Mercedes’ race debrief, Motorsport Strategy Director James Vowles explained the issue.

“We were suffering a little bit with engine cuts, and here is the reason why,” the Briton said.

“You generally map the engine for the conditions it is most used in, which is sea level, that’s where most of the racing takes place.

“When you suddenly go to this level of altitude, you are in a very different condition and, instead of having an engine that is really highly tuned, you are back into a condition where you have to do lots of work with the power unit in a very short space of time to try and map out these irregularities.

“I am confident all teams will suffer this, it won’t be unique to ourselves.”


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Vowles also explained how these “cuts” have a more negative effect in qualifying, but they also have a small impact on race performance.

“It’s typically accentuated in qualifying because you are very quickly and rapidly applying throttle pedal, which means that the turbo and fuelling systems need to keep up with that change very quickly, and normally it’s better in the race.

“We were hoping that the race would not be as bad, and it comes from a factor when the drivers are requesting throttle and picking up throttle, it was simply not delivering the power they request quick enough, so enough fuel or enough air.

“It can be tuned out in time and where we got to in the race wasn’t a bad position, I think qualifying was worse.

“But [it was] still enough to cause a small amount of performance loss for both drivers,” Vowles concluded.

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