Mercedes may be willing to compromise on engine-freeze debate

Mercedes says that it may be open to a brief lifting of the engine freeze in July of 2015 which means the teams could make additional adjustments to their drivetrain design mid-year or effectively bring a new unit design to the table to be used in the remaining races of the season.

Mercedes were not keen on an unlimited lifting of the engine freeze and possibly with good reason. The simple fact is that small teams in Formula 1 are having serious financial difficulties because of the new “power unit” specifications issued for 2014 centered on a hybrid engine design. The hybrid engine has drastically increased the cost of F1. Case in point is the missing Caterham team at the US Grand Prix that is now in administration—its single largest creditor is Renault…the company that supplied their engines.

Mercedes says they might be willing to look at a limited un-freezing of the engine development to allow for changes mid-year and the discussion is set to progress further over the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend.

While the sport’s small teams suggest that the inequitable payout of prize money is the reason for F1’s current financial crisis, the current prize money distribution format began in 2013 and it’s no mystery that the engine costs were a fraction of what they are in 2014. As Red Bull boss Christian Horner rightfully suggested, it isn’t necessarily a revenue-side issue for the small teams so much as a expense-side impact to their balance sheets.

Ferrari and Renault have been lobbying for a lifting of the engine freeze and perhaps, like many things in F1, a compromise is where the teams will end up for 2015. There is also little mystery in the baked-in performance advantage Mercedes currently enjoys so how keen they are to allowing for more engine performance upgrades is, at some level, antithetical to their mission of dominating F1.


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