Lewis Hamilton goes undercover to inspire school children (SHORT VERSION)
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Valtteri Bottas says he hopes his final five races at Mercedes will pass without another engine penalty this season, after taking another fresh one in Austin. Mercedes took a sixth new engine ahead of the United States Grand Prix, triggering a five-place grid penalty for the Finn at the Circuit of Americas.
It meant Bottas started P9 in the race, despite qualifying fourth, having already been hit twice this season in both Italy and Russia after taking more engines than the allocated three that are permitted across a season.
And last time out in Turkey, Lewis Hamilton found himself with a ten-place grid penalty due to an engine change, with team principal Toto Wolff reporting of “unusual noises” coming from the seven-time world champion’s engine before the change.
However, with just five races remaining at the reigning world champions, Bottas has high hopes his fortunes have changed.
“I really hope we’re done for now,” Bottas said after the race in Austin. “Having both of the engines that are good in my engine pool, they seem to be OK – we haven’t detected any issues in either.
Valtteri Bottas collateral damage engine swap to avoid DNF
“Fingers crossed I can go to the end now without penalties, because with a close championship when you get put back five places, it really compromises your race.”
Bottas recovered to finish sixth in Austin, but with another engine change, questions were raised about if Hamilton would be hit again.
The seven-time world champion currently sits 12 points behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the standings, however was warned one non-finish could be the deciding factor for the championship.
Yet Bottas believes it’s just been a case of bad luck since the summer break.
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“I think it’s been just a question of I’ve been a bit more unlucky,” Bottas added. “It’s just before you fit the engine they have passed all the tests and reliability checks, and in theory, they should be okay.
“But just the luck has not been on my side on that, we’ve had more failures and just unlucky. But we really hope that we’ve now fixed everything, but time will show.”
Adding to the explanation for engine changes, Mercedes Motorsport Strategy Director James Vowles explained: “The reason is that we are balancing performance versus reliability to the end of the season.
“One failure to finish a race be at because of a chassis or power unit fault would be catastrophic for the championship and as a result of that, we are managing that in the best way possible to the end of the year and in the case of Valtteri, that meant taking one further ICE to make sure we had absolutely the best compromise.
“As to whether it improved his performance, yes, a small amount but it is more about the balance across the remainder of the season than one event.
“So, this change, as painful as it was during the Austin Grand Prix, will actually pay dividends across the next few races.”
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