LONDON (Reuters) - Dominant Mercedes plan to block an attempt by Formula One rivals to relax the rules and allow engine development during the course of next season.
The engine rules are currently ‘frozen’ in-season to keep costs down after the introduction of costly new V6 turbo hybrid power units this year.
Renault-powered rivals Red Bull, dethroned by Mercedes as constructors’ champions last weekend, and Ferrari want the rules relaxed to allow in-season development that might give them a chance to close the gap.
Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff told reporters in Russia last weekend that his team had already voted against the proposal in a strategy group meeting and would do so again when the matter goes to a Formula One commission meeting.
To be incorporated into the 2015 rules, there must be unanimous agreement.
“I don’t think we will change our mind in the next month, whenever the commission meeting is going to take place,” said Wolff, who added that any relaxation would only increase costs.
He said there was also every chance the performance gap would remain the same, if not grow larger, with Mercedes also pushing hard to improve their engine.
Mercedes have won 13 of 16 races so far, with nine one-two finishes. They will be supplying three teams next year in addition to their own.
“We were asked to guarantee supply of engines at the same specification, at the same time for all the customers at the same price,” said Wolff. “And we can’t supply them at the same time if we are having in-season development.
“It’s different for Honda, which has one customer only, it’s different to Ferrari and different for Renault again.
“You are spending considerably more and every other argument is just because they (rival manufacturers) don’t think they are where they should be.”
To emphasize the domination of the Mercedes engine, Germany’s Nico Rosberg went from last to second in Sunday’s race at Sochi while the top five cars were all Mercedes-powered.
“Mercedes’ true performance is they can drive through the field, and I think it’s too out of kilter,” commented Red Bull principal Christian Horner.
“This technology is still quite raw. Mercedes shouldn’t be afraid of competition. They’re doing a super job but I think it’s healthy for F1 that Ferrari, Honda and Renault should have the ability to close that gap, otherwise we’ll end up in a very stagnant position.”
Williams head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley, whose team uses Mercedes engines, agreed with Wolff.
“Yes, Mercedes have got the march on the manufacturers. But if we open up the engine regulations, Mercedes aren’t going to sit still,” he told reporters.
“Mercedes are going to do an awful lot of work and put an awful lot of investment into this current generation of power unit and come out with something that is much bigger, better and stronger – as will Renault, as will Ferrari.
“Nobody will move forward or backward. We’ll end up where we are.... and what Formula One doesn’t need right at this moment in time is that everybody incurs a huge amount of cost for no benefit to the show.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by...