The Covid pandemic, which forced the postponement of the start of the Formula 1 season in 2020, appears to have given Mercedes’ F1 engineers precious time to resolve the engine problems.
Former Silver Arrow chief engineer Andy Cowell spoke about the faults and issues with the W11 engine during winter testing in 2020, on the threshold of the season opener at the cancelled Australian GP.
Around that time, however, the Covid-19 pandemic spread unchecked around the world, forcing Formula 1 to shut down and manufacturers and factories to close for weeks at a time.
Mercedes were paradoxically helped by the postponement of the season until July. The engine problems of the fastest car on the track seem to have been ‘solved’ by Covid.
Andy Cowell told Motorsport.com that the timing of the pandemic was perfect for resolving the problems encountered with the Power Unit during testing. “To be honest, the Covid came at just the right time. We still had some serious engine problems before the start of the season,”
Instead, the delay allowed Mercedes to solve those problems and continue to dominate the championship, going on to win its seventh consecutive title.
John Owen, Mercedes chief designer, recalled those moments: ‘Our High Performance Powertrains department had just discovered a persistent problem and were still looking for a solution. They literally needed another day, but that time was gone before Australia.”
“The season didn’t start there. Right away, our engine department managed to solve the main problems. But it could have been quite painful if that had been the first race.
“We had quite a bit of luck. So we brought a new engine specification to the Austrian GP, with some updates to improve reliability,”