Do Mercedes customers get equal engines?

In a string of Mercedes/Hamilton fan-fueled diatribes castigating Red Bull’s Christian Horner for suggesting the FIA look to equalization of the grid, I find it interesting that these voices would accuse the Red Bull Racing team boss of “throwing Renault” under the bus and “blaming” them for the teams lack of performance and ability to take the fight to Mercedes. Now Horner is a crybaby and blaming Renault for all the teams woes. Interesting in that Renault are actually blaming themselves for the lack of pace the team are experiencing:

Rémi Taffin, Renault Director of Operations:

” the start of the weekend we’ve faced a number of technical issues, both at Red Bull and Toro Rosso. Reliability has been below par, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen suffering ICE problems. The two are not related and we are already investigating a recovery programme to make sure we do not see a repeat. The biggest issue has been the driveability, which has made it hard for all the drivers to feel comfortable in the cars. It affects pedal application and confidence in the corners so has cost lap time and points this weekend. It’s related to the maps, or the way the Power Unit is configured, so while it’s definitely not an easy fix, it does not require a complete redesign. We have got a lot of work to do before Malaysia but equally a lot of motivation to not repeat the same issues we had this weekend.”

Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Managing Director:

“The weekend has been very frustrating. We know that we made genuine progress over the winter but we could not show it here and in fact we would even seem to have moved backwards. Given the pace at which we conducted our development programme towards the last few weeks of the winter, there may not be lots to change to be able to access these improvements. Now, we need to react, but not overreact, and get back to some basic common sense that has always driven our approach in all these years of F1 engine development. The season will be long, we have the time and the capacity to react and get this very bad start of the 2015 season behind us.”

It’s also not lost on me that the immediate social media response to McLaren’s weekend has been nothing short of running Honda through the mud and suggesting they’ve cocked up the entire situation in which they had a year to get it right but have failed miserably and McLaren look pathetic.

So Horner suggesting that Renault is holding them back, and Renault admitting it, is “throwing them under the bus” but many fans accusing Honda of phoning it in and being a complete embarrassment is perfectly fine? Got it. Now I understand the rules of engagement…I think.

Who can argue with a Mercedes engine as dominant as this and my how everyone got it wrong so to hell with them for missing the real opportunity to “innovate” and make the best use of this brilliant technology. Except that may not be possible for teams such as Williams, Force India or Lotus even though they have Mercedes engines. Williams F1’s Felipe Massa explained:

“We’re pushing hard with the engine which I’m sure has some improvements that we can have and are pushing to have, because for sure the difference is too big,” he said. “So I really hope that we really have the same engine, which I really don’t see why we don’t have.

“Why would Mercedes help Ferrari? So we need to have the best they can give, and we will work on that. On the car we know that every race and whatever points you’re not getting, it counts.”

“If we don’t have the same engine – which I cannot say 100% because it’s very difficult to say – but if we don’t have it then we want to have it because it’s not nice that we don’t have it.”

So a Mercedes engine supply contract doesn’t necessarily mean you have the same engine that Nico Rosberg has—at leas that’s how Massa feels. Watch out, Massa is throwing Mercedes under the bus!

It’s the era of the engine folks and many people I’ve spoken to in the paddock suggest that there is no recovery from a dominant engine through aero tricks or magical duel diffuser rabbits from hats. So if you’re Mercedes, you have two kinds of engines—the ones you use and the ones you sell to other teams. That’s the insinuation anyway but is that right?

If the FIA were serious about standardization and regulatory fairness, they’d have mandated that the engines and all associated components must be the exact same and one could argue that Ferrari’s seemed more legit as Sauber finished 5th in Sunday’s race with an Italian engine in the back.

If you were Mercedes, would you give your customers the exact same kit as you use? Is this now a time to castigate Williams as crybabies like Red Bull because they aren’t winning? Remember this is the team who had its worst year ever in 2013 so I’m not sure it stings them like it stings Horner if they don’t win. Not that they are in F1 to lose but wins are a long forgotten dream and right now podium finishes are a big thing to Williams.

In the end, we’re going to get grousing from other teams about the domination of Mercedes. That’s just the way Formula 1 is but if they do sell a de-tuned engine to their customers it would be a shame because I think Williams has the chops to run at the front and so does Lotus given the same engines. That would make things interesting.

Lastly, this weekend saw an FIA directive mandating a new measurement process that measure fuel pressures at multiple points throughout the system. Is this because Ferrari or Renault has found a way to skirt the fuel flow regulation? It couldn’t be something Mercedes is doing could it? That would be throwing them under the bus!

Hat Tip: ESPN

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