Progress on the 2015 engine ‘unfreeze’ may not be as simple as first thought.
Although F1’s dominant force Mercedes slammed the initiative as “ridiculous” mere days ago, it emerged the German camp is now close to agreeing to help struggling rivals Ferrari and Renault to catch up with their V6 ‘power units’.
“At the meeting on Saturday,” Ferrari team boss Marco Mattiacci said after the recent US grand prix, “Mercedes said it was willing to compromise.
“But I do not feel like saying the matter is closed now, because Mercedes had already declared its willingness before and then changed its mind,” he warned.
Christian Horner, however – the boss of Renault’s works team Red Bull – confirmed: “Mercedes have accepted that they need to provide a window of opportunity to the others to introduce competition.”
It was believed that, with engine makers already able to hand in ‘tokens’ to the FIA in exchange for updating up to 48 per cent of their 2014 engine designs, the agreed compromise will involve an extension of the homologation deadline from February next year to July.
But it now emerges that Ferrari and Renault may not be satisfied to stop just there.
“The two (Ferrari and Renault) made such big mistakes in their power unit concepts that 48 per cent is not enough to come up to Mercedes’ level,” Germany’s specialist Auto Motor und Sport quoted a mutual development partner of the two Mercedes rivals as saying.
The report said Ferrari and Renault want to ramp up the 48 per cent figure to 67 per cent.
Wolff confirmed that Mercedes is prepared to make some compromise, so long as “we are not going to change the rules every year”.
But Auto Motor und Sport said Wolff and team chairman Niki Lauda are refusing to budge on the 48 to 67 per cent proposal.
“It’s too expensive,” they are quoted as saying.
The dispute highlights a very real concern in F1 at present: with backmarkers going out of business amid unprecedentedly high engine bills, maintaining the current ‘freeze’ also risks leaving Mercedes’ dominance essentially unchallenged for years to come.
It plays into the hands of Bernie Ecclestone, who argues that the old V8 engines are not only cheaper, but also much more popular among the sport’s fans.
“They (the race promoters) bought a package and we’re not delivering,” the F1 chief executive, who says the V6s are not loud enough, told British broadcaster Sky a week ago in Austin.
“We need to change the regulations. We’re going to try to get rid of these (V6) engines. They don’t do anything for anybody. They’re not formula one,” Ecclestone insisted. (GMM)