Mercedes engine upgrades benefit whole grid
It is not just Hamilton and Rosberg who have benefitted, with a marked upswing in the performances of Lotus, Williams and Force India.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas team are firmly atop the constructors’ standings for the 2015 Formula One season with a 120-point lead over their nearest competitors, Ferrari. Most races of the 2015 season have ended in a Mercedes 1-2; if they have not, each race has ended with both Mercedes drivers on the podium.
The drivers’ championship too seems to be being contested exclusively between Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Although Hamilton had been enjoying a comfortable lead, Rosberg has come back strongly the last few races to provide a serious challenge to his teammate. Following his win at the Austrian Grand Prix, which is his 4th of the season, German is currently only 10 points behind his British teammate, who is on 169 points to Rosberg’s 159.
Their closest competition comes from the stables of the Prancing Horse, with 4-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, who is 39 points behind Rosberg in third.
All teams running on Mercedes power units appear to have benefitted immensely from the Silver Arrows’ decision to use tokens on mid-season engine upgrades – Lotus, Force India and Williams all run on Mercedes engines, and following the manufacturers’ announcement ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix earlier this month, each of the teams has seen a definitive upward trend in terms of performance.
At the Monaco GP, held just before engine upgrades were announced, no non-Mercedes drivers on Mercedes engines had found themselves in the top 10 barring Force India’s Sergio Perez. This was reversed following the announcement and upgrade, when every single driver on Mercedes engines except Perez found themselves in the top 10 with a points finish.
Only one driver on a Mercedes engine was outside the top 10 this race as well – Romain Grosjean of Lotus, who retired with gearbox issues.
Williams are giving Ferrari a good contest among the constructors – they are only 80 points behind the Prancing Horses, a lead significantly smaller than the one the Silver Arrows have over Ferrrari.
Ferrari were denied podium spots both this race and last by Williams drivers. Valtteri Bottas of Finland scored his and Williams’ first podium of the year at the Canadian Grand Prix, and teammate Felipe Massa finished third ahead of Vettel this year to get his first podium.
Team owners, who had earlier said they “did not believe” they were “in a position to win races this season” will be extremely pleased with the developments of the season – and of the team.
Although Honda and Ferrari had also announced mid-season engine upgrades, which both McLaren drivers served severe penalties for, these seem to have had little benefit – Vettel has narrowly missed out on two podium spots on the trot, finishing both races in fourth, while McLaren’s Alonso and Button have both had a long streak of retirement this racing season, with Alonso audibly displeased in interviews and on team radio.
As a result of Mercedes engine upgrades, Force India are now 5th in the drivers’ standings.
The next Grand Prix will be at Silverstone in Great Britain – a home race for former world champion Jenson Button and reigning champion Lewis Hamilton, who will be looking to consolidate his lead, which teammate Rosberg is quickly closing in on.