Mercedes modifies F1 cars to avoid “massacre” on Austin’s bumps

Toto Wolff admits that the Mercedes Formula 1 team risked not finishing the US GP had it not taken measure to deal with the Austin circuit’s bumps.

Mercedes modifies F1 cars to avoid “massacre” on Austin’s bumps

Wolff said that the team was obliged to take steps not to “massacre” its cars after they bottomed on the tracks bumps during practice.

A similar situation arose at rivals Red Bull Racing, where a cracked wing was spotted on Max Verstappen’s car.

With the permission of the FIA, the Milton Keynes outfit was able to strengthen parts on both of its cars ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session.

“So what we did is that the car was bottoming out quite heavy, and that breaks the car,” said Wolff. “So we took some mitigating steps to not break it, or massacre it that hard, in order to survive the race. 

"Definitely a compromise for going faster on the track, but maybe a necessity to actually finish.”

In Saturday’s qualifying session Lewis Hamilton was beaten to pole by Verstappen, while his teammate Valtteri Bottas was only fourth. The Finn carries a five-place penalty for a power unit change, and will start Sunday’s race from ninth.

Wolff conceded that Mercedes had lost out in comparison with its main rival. Although he hinted at compromises created by the changes to the cars, he insisted that the team hadn’t come to a conclusion as to why.

“Well, not yet. We have lost performance from Friday to qualifying, clearly, relative performance. We don't know yet where that is. And we haven't got the right explanations yet, but clearly, we haven't met our expectations."

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However, he said that as on other occasions this year fortune could wing either way on race day.

"So if you look at the pure performance picture, both Red Bulls look very strong, and probably on paper, they are the cars that are ahead. 

"But we've seen many Sundays that took a very different direction because of the start scenario, or DNFs. And that's why anything goes tomorrow.

“And even though I tend to always say well the qualifying result is the result at the race, thank God it's not the case, and there is ground we can still conquer tomorrow. And hopefully get Valtteri back to sharp end of the grid.”

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