Red Bull is seemingly unhappy with Mercedes insurmountable competitive advantage with its field-leading power unit. The Austrian squad calls for changes regarding the engines for the sake of the sport.
Mercedes has been utterly dominant since the introduction of the double-hybrid power units in 2014. The Anglo-German team secured the Drivers’ and Constructors’ title in four consecutive years, breaking records, achieving never-seen pole position and winning streaks.
The much debated token-system was dumped, but sporting regulations make it very tough for engine manufacturers to introduce changes to their constructions. For this year, the number of engines usable during a season was decreased from four to three which further freezes the pecking order of engine-manufacturers.
Mercedes is still the leading force in terms of power output, reliability and fuel consumption. It also can use very aggressive engine modes in qualifying and during attacking phases of races. Mercedes power unit’s peak engine setting was baptized ‘party mode’ by Lewis Hamilton on Thursday before the Australian Grand Prix weekend.
The former racing driver, now Red Bull consultant Dr Helmut Marko thinks Mercedes has been holding back its advantage and it only releases its full power when it is under real pressure which has been rare over the last four years. During the qualifying session of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Red Bull’s and Ferrari’s good form forced Mercedes to use its power unit at its ultimate potential.
"Mercedes is playing with everyone," said Marko. "They can decide with their power modes how far ahead they are. But this time they apparently got it wrong and are too far ahead. As we call it, party mode. They normally don't need it, they used all of it, and it's obvious that they are playing with all of us.”
"Fortunately, after qualifying the others woke up, and now there's a lot of discussions - there are so many relatively easy things to solve it, and make it more equal,” he is quoted by autosport.
Marko thinks Ferrari also starts to realise that Mercedes is too far ahead.
“I said to Ferrari: Mercedes is five tenths ahead and they said no. But everyone has been asleep. Even Ferrari is waking up now. They begin to realise that they will never catch Mercedes with these engines. We need engine parity, which was always promised. But these engines are much further apart than 3 per cent apart. So the FIA has to act now.”
The current engine regulations are in force until the end of the 2020 championship season. Red Bull’s driver consultant claims that no one can reach the level of the German marque.
"With that engine, no one can beat Mercedes. They’re in a different world,” concluded the Austrian.
Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner suggested FIA had to enforce that the same engine setting is used during the entire qualifying session and the race.
"You could say that you run the same engine modes for the weekend," he said.
"It is something that should be considered, that you effectively have a parc ferme the moment you drive out for qualifying - that is your engine mode for quali and the race. It's up to the FIA, it's down to them to work out what they want to do," said Horner.