Mercedes can benefit from new engine rule tweak, says Wolff

By on

Mercedes can improve its race performance when teams are required to use the same engine mode during the qualifying session and the grand prix, says the Brackley-based outfit’s team principal Toto Wolff.

Over the course of the week, F1 teams received an unexpected letter from FIA secretary general for motorsport Peter Bayer that covers different technical matters. Among the planned tweaks is reduction of engine modes that will require teams to run their power units in the same mode in qualifying and the race.

The governing body has yet to send the details of the new technical directive to the teams that will come into force at the Belgian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

Mercedes is believed to have the most powerful qualifying mode or ’party mode’ as Lewis Hamilton labelled it a few years ago. The Brixworth-based engine facility has found significant gains for 2020 over its last year’s power unit which left even its customer teams surprised. Williams driver George Russell said previously that his team has gained a lot compared to its direct rivals Haas, Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri thanks to Mercedes’ unexpected engine modes.

The first five grand prix weekends showed that Mercedes’s 2020 car, the W11 has an advantage of roughly a second in qualifying over its nearest competitor while that enormous pace supremacy slightly decreases in races.

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has no fears concerning the new restrictions. On the contrary, the Austrian thinks that Mercedes can further increase its performance with the reduction of the engine modes.

„I think the primary goal of the FIA was to implement the rule to better understand and better analyse what is going on with the engines. It’s a very complex method between the combustion engine and all the energy recovery system and I having one mode it becomes more easy for the FIA to really see if everything is in compliance. And then on the second point: it has always been the case in Formula 1 that pulling back the leaders, or what supposedly are the leaders, is something that is good for the sport.

„We see it very much as a challenge. We have a good quali mode and we are able to give it a little bit more power in that last session. But if that is not possible anymore because everything needs to be smoothed out over the race then it’s not a deficit for us but on the contrary, we think we can translate it into more performance in the race. That is something that is a great challenge for us that will take on once the rule is implemented.

Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Bintto agrees with Wolff, indicating that FIA only wants to simplify the rules which will make it easier for the FIA to have an overview of the complex nature of the different power units.

„It’s not the last certainly, it’s even not the first technical directive on power units, showing how complex and difficult is that set of regulations. There have been many TDs which have been issued in the last months on the power unit and I think that all of them have eventually affected all power unit manufacturers. I’m think that the next one as well will simply affect all the power unit manufacturers. Will it affect one more than the others, I simply can only understand by the time we get the technical directive."

The Swiss-Italian thinks that it is still to early to assess how the engine manufacturers will be affected by the new technical directive.

„We need to see the real, true content of it. Obviously, if you are the best car on track, the status quo would obviously the best solution to move forward. But at the end it’s not a technical directive that will be against one of the other manufacturers. It is simply again that the regulations are so complex that clarifications are required,” he added.