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Formula 1 Mexico City GP

Wolff: Mercedes fixed its Mexico F1 Achilles' heel

Mercedes has found an engine fix for the “Achilles’ heel” that kept cropping up in the Mexican Grand Prix over the years, according to Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff.

Jerome d'Ambrosio, Driver Development Director, Mercedes-AMG, Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, Esteban Guttierez, Reserve Driver, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

For the second race in a row, Lewis Hamilton finished as the on-track runner-up to Max Verstappen – although he was later disqualified from the United States GP for finishing with an overly worn plank.

Last weekend in Mexico City, he climbed from sixth on the grid to trail the Red Bull winner by 14 seconds. Meanwhile, team-mate George Russell rose two places to classify sixth.

While the headline results and strong race pace follow an upgraded floor debuting in Texas, Wolff still reckoned that the Mexico performance could also be attributed to an engine fix.

He reckoned the Brixworth-based High Performance Powertrains site had addressed a lingering turbocharger issue whereby it struggled to breathe and overheated in the thin air at high altitude, as per Mexico City.

Wolff said: “HPP has done a fantastic job over the past few years - that was always our Achilles’ heel here that the turbo didn't breathe good enough.

“That's sorted and it's a strong weekend. Our power unit was like all the others.

“I couldn't be more proud of what HPP has achieved with the power unit.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, 2nd position, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, celebrate with Champagne on the podium

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, 2nd position, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, celebrate with Champagne on the podium

Wolff added that engine temperatures had been stable and that Hamilton’s effort to move out of the tow of the cars ahead was to find cooler air to manage the brake callipers instead.

In race trim, Hamilton and Russell registered 14th and 15th in the speed traps last weekend. That compares to 2022, when they ranked 16th and 18th.

Wolff also reckoned the Mexican weekend, which ran with the usual three practice sessions rather than the sprint format used in the USA, had validated the gains from the new floor. Although, he noted the W14 had some fundamental flaws that could not be solved with in-season developments.

The Austrian continued: “We’ve seen that it is providing more downforce, more drivability. The car is a little bit less tricky.

“Still, the genes are there. Lewis said to me, 'She's still so difficult to drive, although she's faster'.

“It was important whether directionally we were going in the right direction for next year and seemed to be on the right path.

“You must not forget, the car that we've designed didn't have that floor, that airflow, these sidepods, leading edges and all the Christmas decoration…”

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