Mercedes F1 “can’t reuse” one of Hamilton’s engines following big failure at Australian GP

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
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At the Australian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton’s hopes for a solid points finish were ruined by an unexpected power unit failure. 

The seven-time world champion found himself side-lined early in the race at Albert Park, with the engine in his Mercedes failing after sensors detected an issue, placing him 10th in the Drivers’ Championship this season thus far on just 8 points.

With his race over and the W15 returning to the garage, the team launched an investigation into what went wrong with the engine. After a post-race analysis at Mercedes’ facility in Brixworth, the problem was uncovered: a terminal bottom-end failure. 

It’s a bitter pill to swallow for both Hamilton and the team, as the engine is now destined for the scrap pile rather than the race track. It’s leaves him with just 3 in the pool for the remaining 21 Grands Prix.

According to the team, the issue stemmed from a quality process issue rather than a problem in the engine’s design. 

With one of Hamilton’s four engines for the season lost so early on, the issue of grid penalties looms over the remainder of the 2024 season, as Toto Wolff says the engine “is for the bin“.

“It is a very highly unusual failure that we have a hardware failure that we didn’t see coming before. 

“We can’t reuse that. And it depends how the season develops, whether we need one more or not. I can’t really say at this stage.”

Despite the setback, Mercedes remains confident in the reliability of the remaining power units. 

Hamilton’s engine misfortune is just one piece of the puzzle for Mercedes in 2024, with the W15 also struggling in high-speed corners.

The setback in Australia hasn’t dampened Hamilton’s spirits, believing the team has what it takes to turn things around before his departure at the end of the season.

He noted the progress McLaren made last year as to what is possible if things can be improved.

“I think it’s all about perspective.

“I think for us, of course, we’ve not started the season where we wanted to be but we’ve got a long way to go.

“You’ve seen in the past, last year, for example, just how things can switch in certain teams – looking like Aston, [and] McLaren last year, who started on the back foot. Anything can happen in the sport.

“I think we’ve just got to learn as much as we can, take as much as we can from the data, remain positive, continue to work hard. And I would say it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get up.

“We’re just going to continue to chase and fight and hopefully we can be fighting at the front at some stage.

Following practice sessions 1 and 2 this weekend in Suzuka, Hamilton claimed that following several experiments the team have run in order to improve the car’s weaknesses, progress has been made. He placed a solid P5 in opening practice as rain meant there was very little running in the afternoon session.

“It was the best session that we’ve had this year, and it’s the best the car has felt this year so far. So, so far really positive.

“I was really excited because this is a circuit that every driver loves to drive. In the last couple of years, we’ve had a really difficult car and a difficult balance to drive here. But given the difficult last few races we’ve had; great work has been done this past week.”