F1 News

Mercedes Hamilton Australia and preparing for Japan

Mercedes braced for a "real test of the car" during weekend in Japan

29 March at 16:00

Mercedes equalled their longest points-scoring streak at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix but failed to score in a 63rd consecutive Grand Prix two weeks later in Melbourne. Lewis Hamilton retired due to an engine failure, and George Russell crashed out on the last lap. James Allison believes the upcoming Japanese Grand Prix will be a "test of their car". They will look to diagnose the engine problem as soon as possible.

Hamilton retired after less than 20 laps in Melbourne. The seven-time World Champion had a power unit issue that Mercedes are yet to understand and it still remains a mystery. "We do not [know what caused it]," Allison said.

"The Power Units will return to the safe hands of the guys at Brixworth, who will be able to figure out what let go. All we know is the symptoms at the time, which was a rapid loss of oil pressure followed by a shutdown of the engine to protect it because when you know you've got catastrophic loss like that, the best thing you can do for the future is kill it there and then."

Hamilton has scored just eight points so far this season and is currently experiencing his worst run of finishes in his Formula 1 career. The Brit last finished in the top five during the Mexican Grand Prix back in October 2023. But do Mercedes feel like a better result was possible in Melbourne? Hamilton was running in 11th when the issues hit.

"He was not really on the Medium tyre for long enough before retiring for us to have much intelligent things to say about that. But if you just take George's pace as a guide and say Lewis could have matched that then my guess is he would have been on for something like four points," Allison added.

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Are Mercedes expecting a better result in Japan?

The Suzuka circuit is a favourite amongst the F1 drivers. Hamilton has always rated it highly, but Mercedes do not seem to be in the mix for a race victory at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix. They have seen Ferrari and customer team McLaren move ahead of them in recent weeks. Their other customer team, Aston Martin, are not far behind. Looking ahead to Japan, Allison reports that George Russell is "working hard in the simulator". The engineer knows that the track in Japan will provide the W15 with a "real test". 

"We are off to Suzuka next. It is a track with plenty of fast corners and also some slowish hairpins, so a real test of the car. Our job will be to make sure that we are attacking some of those things I discussed earlier. The tyre temperature issue, the high to low-speed balance and all the activities between now and then will be to try to work out in the simulator, and see what we can do in simulation to influence those things," he concluded.