Reliability still a concern for triumphant Mercedes

Mon Oct 12, 2015 6:22am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The Formula One constructors' championship is won for the second year in a row, and Lewis Hamilton is on the brink of his third world title, but lack of reliability is still giving Mercedes plenty to worry about.

The champions have suffered three retirements in four races and the throttle failure that sidelined Nico Rosberg in Russia on Sunday took the gloss off another triumphant afternoon for the team.

With Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel leapfrogging Rosberg into second place overall with four races remaining, 66 points behind Hamilton, Mercedes still have a battle on their hands to end the season with their drivers one-two in the championship.

Hamilton can wrap up his second successive crown in Austin, Texas, in two weeks' time -- perfect timing in a major market for the car company -- but reliability could still throw a spanner in the works.

"There is generally speaking no good luck and bad luck from my point of view," the team's non-executive chairman Niki Lauda told Reuters after race winner Hamilton had been congratulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin at Sochi's Olympic Park circuit.

"Nevertheless, our reliability performance in the second half of the season went down. So we have to try to fix that and analyze why and what.

"This throttle issue is a brand new worked perfectly for a long time so this is a surprise to everybody. But it will be fixed and will not happen again," added the Austrian.

Rosberg, now 73 points behind Hamilton, also retired in Italy with an engine failure while his team mate failed to score in Singapore due to a loss of boost pressure.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany, his team mate Lewis Hamilton of Britain and Williams Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland (front L-R) lead during the start of the Russian F1 Grand Prix in Sochi, Russia, October 11, 2015.  REUTERS/Grigory Dukor