Mercedes have discovered the cause of the engine failure which has left Lewis Hamilton facing a race against time to win his fourth championship.
Hamilton, who now trails team-mate Nico Rosberg by 23 points in the title race, was leading the Malaysian Grand Prix when his engine blew up with just 15 laps remaining on Sunday.
The engine was sent back to Mercedes’ headquarters in Brixworth for analysis, and, ahead of this weekend’s race in Japan, the team have revealed that the Briton’s power unit unexpectedly suffered a big-end bearing failure.
As such, Mercedes also revealed that they will adopt a conservative strategy in Suzuka.
“Our analysis has shown that Lewis’ engine suffered a big-end bearing failure,” Mercedes said on Thursday.
“This happened without warning after 618 kilometres (384 miles) and was preceded by a loss of pressure in turn 15. We will introduce revised engine parameters for all Mercedes engines this weekend.”
A furious Hamilton hinted at sabotage from within his own Mercedes camp after the race on Sunday when he said: ”Somebody doesn’t want me to win this year.” He later insisted he was referring to a “higher power”.
On Wednesday evening, however, the 31-year-old posted a series of messages on his social media accounts paying tribute to his car crew and engineers.