Mercedes launch investigation after failure in Austria for Lewis Hamilton

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Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire in Sunday's race in Austria.

Mercedes have opened an investigation into the blunders which are destabilising Lewis Hamilton‘s championship challenge.

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes boss, headed directly from their latest capitulation in Austria to the team’s Northamptonshire headquarters on Monday to lead the inquest.

Hamilton was knocked off Formula One’s title summit by Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel following the Briton’s retirement from Sunday’s race.

The defending champion has been given three days off by Mercedes ahead of this week’s British Grand Prix, but he has asked to be kept abreast of any developments after urging his team to issue a “bulletproof” response to their failings this season.

Hamilton will head into his home race one point behind Vettel after another strategical mistake denied him a certain victory at the Red Bull Ring before he retired with a loss of power.

Mercedes have enjoyed a remarkable run of success over the past four years, but their decision-making is now in the spotlight after they fell behind in both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships on Sunday.

“Motor racing can be very cruel,” Wolff said. “We had all the cruelty go against us in Austria, and it got us brutally.

“But we have to get everyone together. We have got to analyse what went wrong, try not to do it again, understand how we can best avoid it happening again, and get our mind back to Silverstone and race as well as we can there.

“We will pick ourselves up in the next days, and go to Silverstone with our heads held high. It is a home race for the many team members in Brackley and Brixworth, so we will aim to come back strong and make amends for our failures.”

Wolff also moved to downplay fears that Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas‘ retirements on Sunday – Mercedes’ first double mechanical DNF of the modern era – are linked to the team’s upgraded engine.

“None of the issues on the cars were to do with engine reliability,” he added.

“The hydraulic leak on Valtteri’s car was linked to the steering, and we had a drop in fuel pressure on Lewis’ car which was linked to the fuel system. We have no regrets in introducing the new engine.”

Hamilton, the four-time champion, has not been at his dominating best yet this season, but poor strategy calls by Mercedes have still cost him victories in Australia and Austria, while their overly-cautious approach to a late safety car period in China was a factor in him dropping points there, too.

The Englishman, however, will be heartened by his record at Silverstone, having won in front of his home fans for the past four years.

He will also be boosted by an expected near sell-out crowd of 140,000 spectators on Sunday.

“I have every confidence in my team that we will be able to bounce back,” Hamilton said. “We will work on it and we will try to re-evaluate and come back stronger.”

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Mercedes' Toto Wolff welcomes Red Bull's Honda deal

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Honda will link with Red Bull from next season

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff hopes Red Bull will become a competitive force in Formula One, after their partnership with Honda.

Red Bull will begin an exciting phase next season after having signed a multi-year agreement with the Japanese manufacturers, as they bring an end to a 12-year long power unit relationship with Renault.

“This is certainly the right step forward, looking from the outside, for all parties,” said Wolff.

“It was important for Red Bull to have a works status. Long term probably the best chance to win a championship.

“Maybe short term, more work to do, but long term, from where I sit, absolutely the right decision. I am looking forward to tougher fights and tougher battles with Red Bull-Honda.”

Mercedes have enjoyed a long spell of sustained success over the last few years in F1, with Ferrari only managing to give them a strong challenge last year. And Wolff believes, the competition should keep growing, as it is a good sign for the sport.

“For us, as Mercedes, it is important that we have top brands in F1,” he added. “The more we can attract the better for all of us and the better for the sport.”

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Lewis Hamilton expecting 'difficult weekend' after Mercedes delay planned engine upgrade for Canadian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton is anticipating a tough weekend in Montreal.

Mercedes have been forced to postpone an engine upgrade that was scheduled for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, prompting Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton to say he and the team could be in for a “difficult weekend”.

“If the others are bringing upgrades and have fresh engines, we won’t be in a position to fight,” Hamilton said, with Ferrari and Red Bull both expected to bring upgrades for the weekend.

The impact for the latter will be mitigated by a grid penalty for Daniel Ricciardo, with the Monaco Grand Prix winner having had new parts added to his engine due to problems which arose during that victorious drive. He will face at least a 10-place penalty.

However, Hamilton remains concerned of the potential damage his title hopes could suffer this weekend after Mercedes said a “quality issue” has delayed their upgrade.

“It is a power circuit,” Hamilton said of Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. “There is power loss over the life of an engine. All I am hoping for is reliability.

“If I am on the seventh race, with a power difficult circuit, I just want to see it through. Naturally I am still here to win.

“It will be interesting to see whether we can match Ferrari or not, but we are going to be giving it everything we’ve got.”

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