Mercedes open to lifting engine freeze

Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, surprised me today but then he may be simply stating a position on a concept that he knows won’t work due to the proximity of his position within Formula 1. What are speaking of? Engines of course.

Ferrari suggested that the FIA should relax the engine freeze regulations and Renault—and equal partner in engine performance suffering—backed the concept but I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting Mercedes, who have a clear advantage, to endorse the notion and yet it seems that Wolff may have done just that—if not in theory at least:

“It’s about defining what we want to do,” he said. “Obviously we have a competitive advantage but we would take the challenge [of competition] on.

“Is it the time to change the rules to change something? Maybe. The discussions we’ve had so far were pretty open.

“There are various concepts on the table and if we decide to go completely in the opposite direction and open it up completely, this will increase costs quite dramatically.

“I’m not sure we could deliver all the same specification of engines to everybody – logistically it’s not feasible – so the devil lies in the detail.”

So Mercedes would look at this as a challenge and take on all comers but as Wolff rightfully suggests, the costs involved with an open engine format or drastically reduced regulatory oversight would be enormous. The details, as he suggested, are where the discussion has to take place and if a slight relaxation would give Ferrari a leg up, then perhaps they would still be open to the idea.

I’m not trying to be a conspiracy theorist here but his comment about going in a completely different direction has me a tad interested. I’m not a big fan of the current engine formula and tend to agree with Flavio Briatore in that after spending $300m on an F1 program only to show up on race weekend and manage fuel and tires isn’t my idea of flat-out racing and showing what you can do for $300m.

Would the FIA look for a whole new engine regulation? I doubt it as the teams have spent a small fortune on designing and building the current specification but if fans aren’t resonating, perhaps some compromise could be agreed to. I read an article this week that said the sale of electric cars has dropped significantly and perhaps F1 will take the opportunity to start looking at FCV’s?

Regardless, it will be interesting to see if the teams can lobby the FIA to open the engine freeze and let the teams pour more cash into solving their engine woes, in Ferrari and Renault’s case, and gaining even more ground in the case of Mercedes.


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