Wolff: Engine mode ban can make Mercedes faster in race
Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff believes the upcoming ban on engine modes in qualifying will potentially give the team more performance in races.
The FIA wrote to the teams last week informing them of a plan to allow only one mode for qualifying and the race, with details to be confirmed by a technical directive before the Belgian GP.
The change has been framed by the FIA as an attempt to help its technical staff a better chance of ensuring compliance with the regulations.
However, inevitably many observers see it also as an attempt to rein in Mercedes, the manufacturer that has traditionally made the biggest performance gains when it matters in qualifying.
“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,” said Wolff.
“It’s a very complex method between the combustion engine and all the energy recovery system, and having one mode it becomes more easy for the FIA to really see if everything is in compliance.”
Regarding the suggestion that Mercedes was being reined in, he said: “It has always been the case in F1 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.
“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.”
Elaborating on that theme, Wolff made it clear that qualifying modes currently have a cost in terms of how much performance is then available for races.
Thus it follows that if qualifying modes cannot be used then the power unit can potentially be run harder in races.
“I think we don’t lack performance on Saturdays. We had until now quite a margin. We struggled in some of the races where we were quite limited in powerful engine modes, and if F1 were to ban in-season certain power unit modes, then I think it will actually help us in the race.
“If you can avoid damaging your power unit in those few qualifying laps that you have available, in Q3 and then the odd lap in the race, the damage metrics goes down dramatically.
“So five laps of quali mode not being done gives us 25 laps of more performance in the race, and that is something we believe will give us more performance.
“You must take into effect even if it may hurt us more in qualifying, which I’m not sure, and it’s a couple of tenths, then it will hurt all the others in the same way.
“But for us, we are always very marginal on what we can extract from the power unit, and if we were to be limited in qualifying modes, then well, we will be stronger in the race.”
Does Kimi Raikkonen deserve to stay in F1 next year?
McLaren: Testing at new F1 tracks would send “wrong sign”