After Mercedes upgraded his W12 with a new Internal Combustion Engine, Lewis Hamilton will be penalized ten places for Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix.
Mercedes did not introduce additional ancillaries like the MGU-H, MGU-K, or Turbocharger, unlike the majority of engine modifications. The simple replacement of the ICE element of the power unit ensures Hamilton only takes a 10-place grid penalty rather than beginning from the very back.
Mercedes’ Head of Trackside Engineering, Andrew Shovlin, spoke after the first practice session in Turkey to explain why the team took that decision and why it was made for the Istanbul weekend.
“We’re simulating all the races to the end of the year and there’s a balance of the risk of a reliability issue,” Shovlin told on Sky Sports.
“Obviously, the thing that you definitely don’t want to do is fail during a race, and then have to take a penalty anyway.
“Then there’s also a performance element because the power units do lose a bit of horsepower over their life.
“Now, the 10-place penalty is the bit that most contributes to that reliability element, and the performance is the ICE itself. It’s better to take 10 places than start from the back.”
What did Shovlin say?
Regardless of how qualifying goes, Shovlin believes Mercedes will not make any additional power unit changes this weekend.
“Unlikely, really, [because] it’s a lot of fairly intrusive work when you start changing some of those elements during the race weekend,” he said.
“So we’re pretty happy with the decision that we’ve taken so far, and they’ll be likely what we’ll stick with.”
In theory, Istanbul Park is one of the simpler overtaking places left on the schedule. So Hamilton should have no trouble using Mercedes’ outright speed.
The extra obstacle for this weekend, according to Shovlin, adds a new dimension of excitement.
“Working out how easy it is to overtake, it’s actually quite hard because you know in your own mind which are the tracks that are good for passing,” he added.
“Sochi has got very long straights but we were struggling a bit with understeer and that made it tricky.
“This is a circuit, you remember Lewis and that GP2 race, where he felt there’s a lot of opportunity here, and it should make for an exciting Sunday!”
Shovlin was questioned if the team would be punishing themselves. After qualifying if it turned out that Hamilton has a significant pace lead over title contender Max Verstappen.
“That’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s a double-edged sword,” he said.
“It does make it easier to recover. Could it be a race that Lewis could have won from pole? Obviously, that balance is one of the things, but it is what it is, so we just need to make the most of getting back and hopefully even have an opportunity to win.”