July 9, 2020 / 2:16 AM / a month ago

Mercedes say their F1 gearbox sensor issues are 'complex'

Formula One F1 - Austrian Grand Prix - Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria - July 5, 2020 Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton during the race, as F1 resumes following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Joe Klamar/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Mercedes knew they had gearbox sensor issues before last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix and are working around the clock to fix the “complex problem” before this weekend’s next race, strategy director James Vowles said.

Valtteri Bottas won the race at the Red Bull Ring for Mercedes but he and his team mate Lewis Hamilton, the six-times Formula One world champion, were told to avoid the kerbs due to the risk of vibration damage.

Not running aggressively over the kerbs can result in a lap slower by several tenths of a second, however — something drivers cannot afford to do for an entire race.

“The issue itself in the gearbox is electrical by nature and the reality behind it is we now have a few days to get on top of this issue,” Vowles said in a video debrief on the team’s website.

“We have a number of people back at the factory working day and night for this.

“We know that if we don’t get on top of these issues it will be a problem again in just a few days’ time,” he added.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said the champions would run new components this weekend to try to improve matters.

The next race, the Styrian Grand Prix, is behind closed doors at the same circuit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will be the first time Formula One has held two successive races at the same track in one season.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond

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