New Mercedes Engine Widens the Gap
It’s not just blonde hair that is the difference for Lewis Hamilton this weekend but his Mercedes has an upgraded engine. The vote may still be out on the hair colouring but the new engine has been a big hit so far with the championship leader 0.463 seconds ahead of Nico Rosberg and 1.588 seconds clear of Sebastian Vettel in third.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg finished fourth but came out with the quote of the year so far. He came out with those magic words “I have a wet bum. It smells like petrol.” I must remember to use that one on my next night out. Just why he had fuel in his cockpit is still being investigated.
Vettel finished third behind the two Mercedes but the session didn’t completely run smoothly as he had a spin at the first chicane. Also struggling was Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz who caused the session to be temporarily suspended after going off at the Parabolica.
The Mercedes’ engine upgrade has been carried out mainly for “reliability” reasons and has been described as “effectively 2016 development.” They’ve been able to introduce it this season as they had nine token left allowing in-season engine development. It definitely seems that the upgraded engine has put even more distance between Mercedes and their rivals. Lotus, Force India and Williams haven’t been given dates on when the new engine will be available to them.
It was closer between Hamilton and Rosberg in the second practice session but again the British driver came out on top. This time he was just 0.021 seconds faster than Rosberg with Vettel third fastest 0.759 seconds off the pace. Hulkenberg, in a better smelling car this time, was fourth quickest with Kimi Raikkonen fifth fastest in his Ferrari.
The lessons to be learned from the two practice sessions on Friday are simple ones. Mercedes are continuing to dominate and this new upgraded engine means the gap between them and their rivals is widening rather than narrowing.