Oct.4 - Toto Wolff is not ruling out an imminent engine change - and corresponding penalties - for Mercedes' championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

The British driver is leading his Red Bull-driving rival Max Verstappen by just 2 points with 7 races to go in 2021.

However, Verstappen took a fresh set of Honda power unit components at Sochi, sending him back to the grid - before the Dutchman sensationally raced through the field to finish second behind Hamilton.

"We knew how fast Mercedes would be in Russia so we thought it was inevitable that they would get a one-two," Honda F1 chief Masashi Yamamoto told as-web.jp.

"So second place limited the damage while we introduced the fourth power unit, which was ideal," the Japanese said.

That is because Hamilton now looks likely to have to follow suit with a fresh unscheduled Mercedes power unit, opening the door for Verstappen to reclaim the championship lead this weekend in Turkey.

"Changing the engine was a difficult decision," Yamamoto admitted.

"Red Bull had doubts until the last moment. I spoke to Helmut Marko and told him that I personally thought Russia would be a good choice for the change."

Now, similar conversations will be taking place behind the scenes at Mercedes.

At Sochi, Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas was sent tumbling down the grid with an engine change, which team boss Toto Wolff insists "wasn't just a precaution".

"We also wanted to understand the performance of the power unit, and that raised some question marks," he told Sport1.

As for the Hamilton decision, Wolff added: "We're talking one weekend after the other.

"We check the performance again and again and then decide accordingly."

Check out more items on this website about:

5 F1 Fan comments on “Red Bull had last moment doubts about Verstappen engine change

  1. shroppyfly

    unless he has a pig of a qualifying session , id say deciding after quali , is no use , he'd be starting from the back then, and if he qualifies 2nd ,and doesn't take n engine equally stuffed, risking the reliability of his engine/dnf
    Take the penalty and get it done is best way surely

  2. ReallyOldRacer

    Sir Lewis would have to qualify well down the order to make taking a PU penalty worthwhile after quali is complete. Changing the engine after quali puts you at the back of the grid, before quali is just a 10 place penalty. Big difference between starting 11th or 12th and dead last.

  3. f1award

    Glad you agree, if qualifying goes wrong or weather affects the qualifying and you're near the back of the grid far better to swap to engine then, best get the penalties out the way, 13th place or last isn't such a big especially in the wet, see MV last week?

  4. Jere Jyrälä

    If Mercedes are skeptical about reliability lasting until the end, this circuit could be a good choice. Exceeding component allocations would reduce reliability failure risk & wear-induced power drop + give more flexibility for pushing, so perhaps worth taking if truly necessary.


What's your F1 fan opinion?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please follow our commenting guidelines.