Both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton did their usual on Sunday afternoon yesterday, where they like to build up a 20 second gap between them and whoever happens to be in third place. However exactly halfway through the race, it wasn’t all smooth for the Brackley outfit, after both drivers started to suffer from a power loss.
That loss in power was in fact the MGU-K, the KERS unit in their engine failing after what Mercedes reported to be “high-voltage control electronics failure lead.” At that stage both cars lost around 106bhp, which put their lap times down to the low 1:22’s, meaning they were loosing over a second per-lap to the drivers behind. With a KERS failure also comes a brake-bias failure, and we know from the radio messages that Hamilton was actually further rear-wards on his brakes more than Rosberg.
The result was too much braking energy and heat going through them and not enough cooling, and coupled with the hot air from the car in front, the problem with the MGU-K manifested to his brakes and eventually lead to them burning out. Lewis Hamilton really could not do anything unless he significantly dropped back from Rosberg and maybe even behind the gaggle of cars battling for third at the time.
Rosberg meanwhile, we understand was being told to switch to different modes and settings on his steering wheels, some of which he didn’t know existed. He was able to retain the lead, but was still loosing 20 km/h along the long straight in sector three, which equated to around a second in just that one sector. Of course we saw how easy it was for Riccardo to breeze past the Mercedes driver when he eventually did get within the DRS zone.
But it was certainly a controlled drive from Rosberg, who thought he’d finished in 6th place once the race finished. 18 points have been added to his lead in the championship, with Hamilton still on the same 118 points that he left Monaco with – 22 behind Rosberg. With the two Merc’s being the only two cars that are likely to win a race this year, Lewis is going to have to do another run of wins like he did after Australia, in order to regain the lead of the championship.
Of course we have a long way to go, and as Paddy Lowe said, issues like the ones they experienced yesterday can still happen throughout the year. Although what is perhaps more worrying for the team is how sudden such an issue can occur, because unlike a mechanical issue where the data shows up through the telemetry as a developing issue, this can just fail at any moment because its software-based.