Mercedes have benefited from illegal test, rivals allege

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Mercedes’ rivals say the team’s form since their illegal test for Pirelli in May shows the benefited from the information gained while testing.

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier said: “Two wins out of the three races after they tested, so the conclusion is easy. It is just facts. Two races won out of the three.”

Boullier denied Mercedes’ upturn in form might be a coincidence, saying: “I don’t think so. If we were racing on coincidence in Formula One I would know it.”

Mercedes had severe problems with tire degradation earlier in the season. At the Spanish Grand Prix the W04s qualified on the front row of the grid but fell to sixth and twelfth during the race. Pole sitter Nico Rosberg finished 68 seconds adrift.

Mercedes won the first race after their test, the Monaco Grand Prix, on a track which is less punishing for tires. Lewis Hamilton placed second in Canada, another track where the hardest compounds are not necessary. But their victory at Silverstone, one of the toughest tracks on the calendar for rubber, served to indicate the progress they have made.

Before the test Mercedes had scored 72 points in five races and were fourth in the constructors’ championship. Since then they’ve scored 99 points in three races, more than any other team, and overtaken Ferrari and Lotus in the points standings.

Asked if the Mercedes would still be winning races had it not been for the test Rosberg said: “For sure, yeah. Definitely.”

Hartley to make F1 debut from back of grid after penalty

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Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.

Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.

Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.

The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.

Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.

A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.