Mercedes hopeful of fixing F1 Austrian GP gearbox issues

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Mercedes is hopeful of putting fixes in place to prevent a repeat of its Austrian Grand Prix gearbox issues in time for this week’s Red Bull Ring Formula 1 race.

Valtteri Bottas led all 71 laps en route to victory in the 2020 season opener, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton finishing second on-track before being demoted to fourth with a penalty.

But both drivers were issued critical gearbox warnings throughout the race as Mercedes warned them to stay off the aggressive kerbing at the exit of the corners.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff explained that the issue emerged very early in the race, and feared it would be an “instant kill” for the W11 cars.

The Red Bull Ring has traditionally been a weak circuit for Mercedes reliability in recent years, and the team faces a tight window to get fixes in place ahead of the second race at the circuit this weekend.

Wolff said that he remained hopeful solutions could be put in place to avoid the issue being as harmful in the second Austria race.

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“We have a great group around Simon Cole on trackside reliability, and he and his team are going to [work to] solve that problem until next week,” Wolff said.

“What I understand is that there are solutions that we can at least improve the situation. Austria is for sure stressing these parts on the car most in all of the season.

“So if we find a way around of protecting the car next weekend, we should be fine. I think we have ideas.”

Wolff pinned the reliability issues on the nature of the kerbs at the Red Bull Ring, which drivers tend to use at the exit of a number of corners in order to optimise their lap time.

“The reliability issues here come from from the kerbs. It’s a great track, but if you run the kerbs too wide which is within the rules, you damage your suspension,” Wolff said.

“It is a permanent evaluation of the driver, how quickly you want to go, how much you want to ride the kerbs and obviously, by nature, they want to go as quick as possible.

“If you do that, you risk suspension damage or vibrations to the car that can break it.”

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