Wolff explains why Lewis Hamilton didn’t get a new engine in Russia

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

With Max Verstappen getting a new engine plus an engine grid penalty at the Russian Grand Prix, it could have been a perfect opportunity for Mercedes to swap Lewis Hamilton‘s unit too.

Out of all the 2021 frontrunners Lewis Hamilton is the only driver not to receive his fourth engine yet. With Max serving a penalty at the Russian Grand Prix due to his engine swap, Mercedes could have given Lewis a new unit and he would start at the back of the grid, but still ahead of the Dutchman (because he also has a three-place grid penalty from Monza).

Although there’s a big chance Lewis will have to get his fourth unit at some point in 2021 and serve a penalty, Mercedes decided not to do it in Russia. Toto Wolff explains why.

“I think we have a good opportunity here,” the Austrian told Motorsport.com.

“If everything goes to plan that we are starting in the front, and hopefully can have a strong points finish.

“I think at the moment we’re just looking at the development of the power unit in terms of signs of reliability issues, which are not yet there. So we’re taking it from weekend to weekend.”

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Wolff says there could be an appropriate opportunity for Lewis to serve the penalty in the coming races.

“Exactly. And there can be a weekend where you are totally off, or you’re caught in an accident, and you’re starting at the back anyway.

“So I think taking a power unit prematurely is not something that we would want to do.”

The Austrian adds Mercedes is not worried about Honda and Ferrari improving their power units, as they choose stick to their original plan.

“The truth is we don’t know what the others do. It’s just noise. For us, it’s important to choose the right time for upgrades. And we have done that at the beginning of the year.

“We’re happy with how we’ve done it, and it’s a close fight, you can see that everybody’s suffering from some kind of reliability issues, or bringing developments late,” concluded Mercedes’ team boss.

Although Lewis will not receive a new engine in Russia, he will be receiving a new gearbox, but since it’s within his allocation, he will not be receiving any penalties.

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