In an effort to level the playing field, the FIA have told the teams that they will no longer be able to run more powerful engine modes during qualifying. It is believed that Mercedes has a distinct advantage in this particular area and that stands to reason as the team have had a performance edge ever since the hybrid power unit was introduced in 2014.
The mandate is that teams must run the same engine modes in the race as they use in qualifying. Regardless, Lewis Hamiltons says he doesn’t think this will have the impact the FIA may believe it will.
“And just going back to the fact that at the end of the day, the guys on our team have done such a great job with the engine.
“It’s obviously to slow us down but I don’t think it’s going to get the result that they want, so that’s totally fine if they do.”
“it’s not a surprise to us, they’re always trying to slow us down”.
“But it doesn’t really change a huge amount for us so it’s not a problem.”
The real question may be that qualifying is always a front-row affair for Mercedes but if those power modes are superior, then having them available during any part of the race is also an advantage. There is no doubt that Mercedes have pace in hand when they need it.
There is a downside of this power mode in that it runs the engine harder, produces more wear and tear on the components and with only three engines allowed for a season, the gamble is certainly there.
Mercedes may not only have a superior pace in their engine but they’ve done a mighty job of making a relatively bullet-proof engine as well. Wear and tear may not be quite the gamble it could be for other teams.
Time will tell but if their pace isn’t quite as dominating during the Belgian Grand Prix, it could be a sign that they are running a more reserved power mode. Problem is, on the balance, Mercedes has had about a full second over the other team sin qualifying so they have room give.