Tyre problems Mercedes F1 team had in the last two races in Austin and Mexico have nothing to do with the decision not to use the controversial rear wheel design with cooling holes, claims their boss Toto Wolff.
The Mercedes controversial rear wheels are used since Belgian GP in August and the design has evolved in Singapore, helping them unlock all the potential in the tyres, especially when preparing them for fast laps in qualifying.
Due to fear of possible protest from Ferrari, after Maranello team sent an inquiry to FIA regarding legality of Mercedes’s wheels, Mercedes decided not to use holes and clamp them with silicone to make sure they would secure the title without unnecessary controversy.
Although the FIA confirmed in Mexico once again that they are happy with Mercedes’s design, they plan to issue a technical directive so that the teams know exactly what is permitted in this case and what is not, in order to develop their ideas for 2019.
Despite the fact that Mercedes had big tyre problems in both Austin and Mexico, where Ferrari and Red Bull finished in front of them, Wolff said it had nothing to do with the use of controversial wheels.
“The biggest problem in Mexico was the front left tyre, it has nothing to do with our rear wheels,” said Wolff.
“We had a very bad race, we were really struggling with the tyres, I do not think we actually switched the tyres on. We don’t know yet what the issue was, but we will dig deep, put the finger in the wound and find out why we struggled so much.”
“Now all our focus is on the constructors’ championship, we need to perform strongly in Brazil and make sure we keep pushing until the end.”
Hamilton, having confirmed his fourth title in Mexico in 2017, made a mistake in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, already in the first flying lap and had to start last, but still managed to finish fourth behind Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen.
In the fight for constructor’s title, Mercedes has 55 points lead and Ferrari must cut the gap to at least 42 points if they want to stay in hunt ahead of the last race in Abu Dhabi.
This means that Vettel and Raikkonen in Brazil must win at least 13 points more than Hamilton and Bottas.
In the last two races, Ferrari has reduced the gap behind Mercedes by 23 points.
FIGHT FOR THE CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP