At the end of the last Formula 1 season, the reliability of the Mercedes engines caused the team some headaches. But with a view to the upcoming season, the German manufacturer is confident that they have gotten the problems under control, as McLaren boss Zak Brown reveals.
“They have a good feeling about their development,” explains the American, whose team has been purchasing engines from Mercedes again since 2021. “Fortunately, we had good reliability last year,” he emphasizes in retrospect.
“As you know, reliability is about more than just the drive unit. So I think our guys did a good job with the unit in the first year,” Brown praises his employees. “So maybe reliability wasn’t as much of an issue for us as it is for others.”
Mercedes received some starting place penalties at the end of 2021
In October, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff admitted that they themselves were struggling with reliability problems. The team has been in a close title fight with Red Bull throughout the 2021 Formula 1 season.
However, they suffered a number of grid penalties in the closing stages of the season due to concerns about the durability of their power units. Valtteri Bottas used a total of six combustion engines during the season, more than any other driver. Lewis Hamilton came in five.
The Mercedes customer teams McLaren, Aston Martin and Williams also had to use a fourth unit in the second half of the year. The regulations limit the teams to three drive units per season, with penalties following.
Brown: Good feedback from Mercedes about engines
Since Formula 1 will stop developing engines this year, it was important for Mercedes to solve the problems immediately. And even though it’s still a few weeks before the new power units are used on the track for the first time in pre-season testing, McLaren is sending out encouraging signals.
“I spoke to Toto about it last week and he was pretty optimistic,” Brown reveals of the feedback he’s received from Mercedes on the engines for the new season. “I think the race for power units is as close as ever, but I’m not worried.”
Last year, Wolff explained that Mercedes’ engine problems were a result of the way the team had to be super-aggressive in development to keep up with Ferrari’s 2019 performance upgrade.
“We were pushed very hard in 2019 and in 2020 we had a power unit that was right up there, but maybe pushed us a little too hard,” admitted Wolff towards the end of last season. “When you’re constantly striving for performance, reliability sometimes falls by the wayside. And I think that’s what happened.”