Wolff: Unfreezing power unit development will result in spending war
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that F1 risks escalating into an expensive spending arms race if rival teams go ahead with threats to push through th...
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that F1 risks escalating into an expensive spending arms race if rival teams go ahead with threats to push through the unfreezing of restrictions on engine developments at an F1 Strategy Group meeting later this month.
Ahead of a crunch meeting of teams and manufacturers in Abu Dhabi, he has called for rival teams to step back from the brink, as he sees it and work on a compromise solution for 2015 and 2016, rather than unlimited spending from 2016 onwards,
"No serious company would allow a complete lifting of restrictions. Renault and Mercedes have full alignment," he said.
Red Bull Racing and Ferrari have been left behind this year by Mercedes largely due to its more powerful hybrid turbo engine. They now want an opportunity to develop their engines mid season next year to give them a chance to catch up. They are calling for up to 20% of the engine to be 'unfrozen,' Mercedes' counter-offer is 8%.
The fear is that if a compromise cannot be reached for 2015( which requires unanimous approval), Mercedes will be outvoted on plans to liberate development in 2016 (which requires only a majority). Wolff sees that as a threat that costs would spiral.
Mercedes is concerned about smaller teams going out of business if the costs rise dramatically over the next two years in an engine spending war, with Wolff this morning telling a small group of reporters, including this website, that such a move would put smaller teams at risk.
“The worst thing for customer teams is to change the regulations in mid-season,” he said. The tactic, he added, would dramatically push up development costs and thus increase the financial burden on midfield outfits.
A final discussion on a mid-season development window for 2015 is set for Abu Dhabi, then it will be voted on by the F1 Strategy Group and then the F1 commission later this month. The teams in favour of more development are threatening to push through a total lifting of restrictions for 2016 if their demands for next season are not met.
As the row over power unit development continues, there have been suggestions that Formula One might revert to the older, cheaper V8 units raced up until the start of 2014, with Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner saying that “desperate means require desperate measures”. He further urged that the FIA should “put its hand up and say we got it wrong” on the introduction of the hybrid V6.
Wolff, however, today dismissed the possibility, saying that Mercedes and Red Bull engine supplier Renault are “100 per cent” aligned on the future of the V6 power unit.
"If we dropped the current format, I can guarantee for sure that manufacturers would not be interested in supplying any other power unit because of the stability and sustainability of the sport and the road relevance of the hybrid technology," Wolff said.
“Mercedes and Renault are 100 per cent aligned that this should be state-of-the-art road relevant technology for the future,” he added. “This is at a motorsport level and between the two boards. Renault was very vocal about introducing these engines. All other things being discussed are just funny.”
He also reiterated comments made by Niki Lauda recently saying that if V8 engines were to return to Formula One Mercedes would quit the sport.JAonF1 understands, meanwhile, that next month Renault will next month hold a board meeting to discuss its overall future Formula One strategy.
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