For many Nico Rosberg fans a very nervous sight during the 2016 Canadian Grand Prix was the German running down the opposite side of the back straight to cool his car mid way through the race.
After a poor start saw him down to 9th after the first lap – Rosberg spent a lot of the race in traffic and pulling overtakes. Initially many presumed that this was the reason why his car was overheating – but now Mercedes Technical Director, Paddy Lowe, has shed some potential light on the reasons why Nico Rosberg had a string of over-heating problems.
“It looks like he also collected some debris in one of his radiators, as he had overheating throughout the race.” Lowe said. This debris would likely have been collected in Turn 2 on the first lap when Rosberg was forced to go over the grass briefly after team mate Lewis Hamilton squeezed him wide. Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, Toto Wolff, commented on the incident saying: “Lewis reported on the radio that he had understeer and cold front tyres going into the corner – and there was some risk for Nico to be running on the outside line.”
Lowe also made it clear that problems weren’t race threatening saying, “While this may not necessarily have affected his performance, it would have been quite a big distraction to manage.” The team has experience with over heating at this circuit – the 2014 race cooking both drivers brakes to a crisp which cost them a win.
The public was first made aware of Rosberg’s over-heating situation when a radio message was heard with him asking whether or not warnings he was seeing on the dash were real or not. The team informed him that yes – his car was over heating and it needed to be cooled on the straights.
This is a very interesting situation because Paddy Lowe doesn’t sound particularly confident in his claims, saying it “looks like” vs “it was” The only other reason that could cause the overheating is a gremlin which has been present in the Mercedes W07 Hybrid since winter testing – running in the dirty air.
In recent years Mercedes have made their chassis as one that is good for 1 lap in clean air – versus Ferrari and Red Bull who appear to be stronger over long distance and can afford to run in traffic. This spreads to areas such as brake temperature, tire temperature and engine wear/temperature. The statistics seem to back this up as well – Mercedes taking 18 of 19 poles in 2014 and 2015. They’ve also taken pole at the first 8 rounds of 2016 – falling flat only in Monaco.
So could Nico Rosberg’s over-heating issues during the 2016 Canadian Grand Prix be caused in general by the Mercedes inability to run in dirty air – or did he suffer radiator damage from a quick trip over the grass? Personally I believe yes, Rosberg suffered damage and the Mercedes inability to run in dirty air simply compounded the problem – what do you think?