“Irresponsible” to lift engine restrictions, Wolff warns

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff warns against rival teams who have threatened to force a change in engine regulations which could to a significant increase in costs.


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F1 teams keen to avoid engine ‘war’ (BBC)

“It’s very clear how irresponsible that would be for the sport in an environment where we have just lost two teams, where we are talking about financial hardship for some of the other teams, that somebody wants to go gloves off.”

Christian Horner Q&A: Red Bull’s 2014 a big achievement (F1)

“I hope that Marussia and Caterham get their act together. If not, and we had to run a third car, we would be in a position to. But we will need to know pretty quickly – it’s already November. Logistically it would be painful, but if we are called upon to do it then yes, we would be able to support it.”

Sauber urges FIA to take action on costs (Autosport)

Monisha Kaltenborn: “The last time we relied on [Jean Todt], when we had this unanimous agreement on cost control, nothing happened.”

Caterham set to miss ‘crowdfunding’ target (The Telegraph)

Administrator Finbarr O’Connell: “We are talking to a number of parties who could make a substantial investment. It is possible then if we got to £1.8million tomorrow and had pledges of £0.5million from sources then we could make an executive decision to go.”

McLaren ready to debut new Honda engine (Reuters)

“The car, to be driven by British tester Oliver Turvey, is only allowed to do 100km under testing restrictions with demonstration tyres in what is effectively a ‘shakedown’ to ensure everything works.”

Vettel still comfortable as Red Bull guards 2015 secrets (Adam Cooper’s F1 Blog)

“All the stuff that happens on the car for next year doesn’t get discussed with me, which is normal. But equally there’s stuff that we test here on the track which I’m sure will possibly be used next year, and from a team point of view it’s the best foot forward to use both of the cars to do that.”

Nico strikes back (ESPN)

“They started off chanting Massa’s name but that then changed to Senna’s name, which is amazing considering it’s 20 years since Imola. It shows how much of a hero Senna was and still is for the Brazilians.”


Comment of the day

The F1 field looked a bit healthier 20 years ago:

Rather depressing contrasting the grid from 1994 to the current grid. I mean, look at it. 26 cars. Myriad constructors and engine manufacturers. F1 is in a sad, sad state comparatively.

Despite this, I still love it and will continue to watch.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Sridhar!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is via the contact form or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Happy 60th birthday to former F1 driver Eliseo Salazar who is 60 today.

Unfortunately Salazar is best remembered as the driver who took Nelson Piquet out of the 1982 German Grand Prix while the Brabham driver was leading, and how he received a flurry of punches and kicks afterwards.

He is, however, the only Chilean driver ever to have competed in Formula One, and scored his only points in that year’s controversial San Marino Grand Prix.

Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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48 comments on ““Irresponsible” to lift engine restrictions, Wolff warns”

  1. I don’t know why Horner is kidding himself.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      14th November 2014, 1:27

      practicing for when he replaces Bernie, and start kidding everybody else.

    2. Spot on.

  2. Sure, lock in Mercedes’ advantage for the next 5 or 10 years. See how long the rest of them stick around. That will be great for F1.

    1. Or Redbull fielding 12 cars, what is the difference. F1 has lost its soul.

    2. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      14th November 2014, 1:05

      Even if they open up the engine restrictions, Mercedes will still destroy them, because their engine development team is probably the best in the world at getting more efficient and higher HP engines.
      So, I’d say that there’s a good chance that Renault, Ferrari and Honda will be even further behind next year if they unfreeze the engine regulations… Oh, and a bit lighter in the wallet department.

      1. What I read into Toto’s words was, ‘if you open up the engines we will just poor in as much money as it takes to stay ahead and you will have spent considerably more than you should and will still be behind’.
        The problem with that sinario is that I believe him!

      2. I think what Toto says should rather be interpreted as being “if you open up engine restrictions count us (and Renault) out” @thebullwhipper, @tophercheese21.

        Renault was the first engine manufacturer to say it would quit when Bernie tried to torpedo the new regulations 2 years ago. And when they are now facing unsettled bills at Caterham and at the same time an almost certain reduction to only 2 customers, will Goshn feel inclined to continue? Maybe, but surely he won’t be interested in raising the cost.

      3. It would probably go some way to explaining why Renault Sport themselves are not publicly speaking out about loosening the engine regulations in the same way that Horner is – after all, given Red Bull get free engines from Renault (as part of the sponsorship deal with Infiniti), Horner won’t be the one who has to pay for the development costs.

    3. @henslayer, having had the opportunity to watch MBs superiority since March it would be totally (criminally?) incompetent for both Renault and Ferrari not to have been working on new designs and arrangements for next year since before the 1st.race of this year. Next year Ferrari and Renault will have the opportunity to introduce a years worth of improvements to their engines with knowledge of MBs engine layout and performance as benchmarks, MB may find some extra performance as well but having started closer to the maximum available their gains will necessarily be smaller and there will be nothing to stop R & F from finding more performance than the current MB PU.
      If MB are once again superior they will deserve to be recognised as such.

      1. That’s you working on the assumption that Mercedes are closer to the limit of development.

        Martin Brundle recently stated that Mercedes has already identified where they could find an additional 40bhp and that’s on top of the 70 that next years unit will increase by. Furthermore if it comes down to a spending war, the only company that would be able to match them is Honda.

        1. And Ferrari… After all, what else could they spend their $50+ million ‘heritage’ bonus on?

          1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
            14th November 2014, 12:23

            Yes but in terms of bang for you buck, Ferrari are probably the worst sporting team on the planet.

        2. @Kgn11 – I thought Brundle said they’ve identified 60 bhp, not 40.

        3. KGN, There is a limit to how much power can be extracted from a gram of hydrocarbon, 100%, and since the amount of fuel burned is the same for all ICEngines in F1 now and MB are more powerful they must be closer to 100% than Renault and Ferrari, but there is no rule that says Renault and Ferrari may not build a better engine than MB.

          @optimaximal,@jcost, Highly unlikely from what I’ve read but the rules do seem very difficult to understand, they were probably written that way because the teams forsaw the possibility of the situation we now have and didn’t want a big spender leaping ahead of the rest by building a completely new engine. If the token system is blocking a key area of development, why don’t they say so.

      2. @hohum They’ve likely come to the conclusion that the token system won’t allow them to catch up sufficiently…

      3. The relaxation of the freeze was suggested as a one off, just for this winter, after that the freeze would revert to the previous timetable and number of tokens. It was intended to allow the other manufacturers the chance to close up on Mercedes, they do not expect to catch up completely, but it would put them in a better position for future developments with the current timetable and restrictions they fear that they will never catch up.

        The proposal was for all the engine manufactures to be allowed to develop 67% of the engine (rather than 48%) with 45 tokens (rather than 32), because otherwise Renault and Ferrai cannot introduce all the changes they want to make. In addition due to lack of time to introduce all the developments before the start of the season the idea was to either provide a window in July when new developments could be introduced or to extend the homologation deadline until the end of March (rather than February).

        I don’t think that anyone wants unlimited development and a spending war including all the engine manufacturers, I am sure that Mercedes rivals would prefer a relaxation that still included limits on tokens and the times when developments can be introduced so that any increase in costs can be contained.

        Mercedes domination this year has reminded me of McLaren in 1988, with better reliability and without the intervention of a safety car Mercedes probably would have won all the races this year, and I would not be surprised if they do so next year. The sport does need competition and so ultimately do Mercedes, if they continue to dominate to this degree then eventually other engine manufactures will leave F1 and the benefits that Mercedes gain in publicity, reputation etc. will have diminishing returns.

      4. @hohum maybe the identified areas to improve are locked by the token system…

    4. One thing that is starting to bug me about F1, is team principals across all the teams trying to influence the rules, under the guise of “it’s what is best for F1”, when really it is just what is best for them.

      Sure, go ahead, try and influence the rules, but be straight up about it. Come out and say, “we object to the proposed easing of the engine development restrictions because like the other manufacturers we developed our current engine in accordance with the current rules, but we did it better, and we believe that it would be unreasonable if our competitors receive a second chance at developing their engine; they knew the rules, they had the same opportunity as us, and that opportunity has now passed”. This would be a completely legitimate reason. This is Formula 1, it is completely okay to be selfish.

      Just stop insulting our intelligence by trying to pretend that you are doing it in the best of interest of the sport

      1. @formulales Alas, this is how PR and the media-machine works. If Horner came out and said what he really means, people would associate his words with the Red Bull brand and he’d be sacked in days…

        1. Keith did an excellent piece on this, @formulales and @optimaximal.


          “Nonetheless, if Mercedes care most about protecting the future of the sport, they should block a relaxation of the engine freeze. And if Mercedes care most about protecting their hard-won position at the front of the pack, they should block a relaxation of the engine freeze.”

    5. I would like to see the fuel limit relaxed and the engines be allowed to run to their full rpm with the turbo. Could that change the playing field?

  3. ColdFly F1 (@)
    14th November 2014, 1:25

    Spot on the COTD about the 94 Australian Grand Prix.
    With 15 cars not making the finish it would be a sad view if that happened again this year – just enough left to fill the podium.

    1. Hopefully that will not happen this year

    2. Who’d have imagined it could get way more depressing than 1994?

    3. Mind you, the 1994 season was not necessarily the most auspicious season either for the smaller teams either – both Larrousse and Team Lotus were bankrupt by the end of the 1994 season, whilst two other teams (Simtek and Pacific) were in such bad financial shape that they were both gone by the end of the following season.

      Yes, you did have, overall, more teams competing, but on the other hand teams also tended to collapse a lot more rapidly around that time too – in the period from 1993 to 1996, the sport saw five teams collapse (Forti failing to make it through the 1996 season) and a sixth, BMS, effectively ceasing to be after they merged with Minardi.

  4. I really don’t get all the hoo-ha about 3rd cars, I’m pretty certain they won’t happen. I don’t see Lotus, Sauber or Force India going out of business over the winter (they have been crying enough for years now), which still leaves us 18 cars. Then of course you have Hass F1 coming in for 2016 (i think Gene Hass has got inside info on the relaxation of the regs regarding how much of the car must be designed and manufactured in-house, a la customer cars) which will bring us back to 20, which I believe is and adequate size, although another 2-3 teams (4-6cars) wouldn’t be sniffed at. Lots and lots of talking, not a lot of action I’m afraid. Bernie is keeping them all on their toes and he has always employed a divide and rule policy, in yesterday’s round up there was a link to an article with some quoted lines from an Ecclestone interview and you would swear down they had been said this last month, but no, 1994, same dog, same same trick!
    Although I admire Bernie Ecclestone, he has turned the sport into a near unstoppable laviathon, but Bernie is 2 generations older than me and I have grand kids so it’s time to bring the whole shooting match into the 21st century, kicking and screaming if necessary, but only someone who can reach out and touch the younger generations will be able to snare new fans from a young as age, as I was in the early 80’s. Unfortunately, love him or hate him, it may only be the Grim Reaper who can rid the sport of the best and writs thing to ever happen to it.

    1. In addition, I think the rules say that there can be no more than 26 cars, with 2 per team. This means there would have to be a change in the rules to allow 3-car teams, which would require unanimous support from all the teams.

      1. There are also regs stating that if the field gets to a certain (low) point, that teams will be obligated to run third cars.

        1. From what I have read, it is the contracts that Bernie/FOM has with the teams which say that, and the contracts with the venues say there will be at least 14 cars on track (I think). The FIA regs say 26 cars, 2 per team.

          From the sporting regs:

          5.7 An Event may be cancelled if fewer than 12 cars are available for it.

          13.6 No more than 26 cars will be admitted to the Championship, two being entered by each competitor.

          28.1 Each competitor may have no more than two cars available for use at any one time during an Event.

          I haven’t fully read the regs, but I do not believe there is space in them for 3-car teams. They do not seem to have changed, in this regard, for 2015, so would take a rule change, with unanimous support, to allow them.

          I may, however, have missed something in the regulations.

          1. @drmouse, maybe the plan is 5 x 2 team (a la RBR-STR )competitors, all manufacturers, with room for another and or a couple of privateers.

  5. It’s funny how Toto seems so worried about the engine cost increase for the ‘smaller’ teams. I’m sure that Toto is not concerned about other engine manufacturers catching up to Mercedes with the lift, as his primary concerns lie with the presence of smaller teams on the grid.

    What Toto forgets to mention is that the improvement of the sport from a fans point of view is not the presence on Marussia’s and Caterhams on the grid, but instead a healthy competition amongst front running teams on the grid. This year has been a blowout by Mercedes and might continue to do so for the next few years if other engine manufacturers are not allowed to play catch up. That unhealthy competition is more detrimental to the sport than the presence of minnow teams.

    It’s great how team bosses shape their arguments to take advantage of their current situation. Sometimes I wonder why we listen to their statements at all.

    1. Honestly, I think Mercedes is not worried about anyone catching up @todfod. Rather Toto might be worried that Stuttgart will pull out. After all, they will have had their success by then from F1 and not feel inclined to poor in even more money.

      And as for caring for the smaller teams, I agree that the big teams do not seem to be too worried. But on the other hand, its Mercedes that offers the cheapest engine deal to their customers already. The most expensive is from Renault who do not want to take on as big a chunk of the cost themselves – so I doubt they would play along with a spending war.

      1. I thought Mercedes had the most expensive deal to customer teams

        1. Mercedes is cheaper by a good couple of millions of Dollars/Pounds/Euros too.

    2. @todfod I think Mercedes GP aren’t going to have such a smooth ride next year – the engine itself will likely still be head & shoulders above its rivals, but Williams and Force India are sure to follow the design route Mercedes have taken this year (tight packaging, less cooling, barn-door wings) because they know they can.
      We also know Honda are going to basically turn up with as close to a clone of the Mercedes engine as they’ve been able to glean from staring at the back of a McLaren in Woking for the last year.

      1. But the advantage that Mercedes will always have on rivals is knowing the engine development plans before it’s customer teams find out. Similar to the advantage that they had this year

        1. I think Mercedes don’t have much of a margin anymore. Teams have now run the engines in their cars, and they know where they made too much compromise as regards the cooling requirements. Were Mercedes have the advantage is the financial strength to try out multiple configurations and choose the most efficient.

    3. I don’t think it’s fair to say he’s not worried about the smaller teams. However, I agree that it’s not the primary reason he is arguing that case. Toto wants what’s best for Mercedes, Horner wants what’s best for Red Bull, all the team principals want rules which suit them best.

      They are all acting like politicians. They say what they say for purely selfish reasons, twisting the truth to fit their agenda.

    4. @todfod It largely depends on what you mean by healthy competition.

      If by healthy competition you mean a competition in which the rules are frequently changed so that the teams who have done the worst job are able to get an advantage over the victor then go ahead and believe that.

      Weight penalties make for healthy competition in this regard, but as far as I’m concerned F1 is a meritocracy and the winner should be deserving of it for having done the best job rather than changing the rules as they go along.

    5. @todford, Do the names, Ferrari, Cooper, Lotus, Brabham, McLaren, Williams and Red Bull ring a bell ? they should because they all have been dominant for more than 1 year because they built a better racecar, why should we stop Merc from doing so now ?

  6. Big teams fielding 3 cars in 2015 is probably the worst idea in years. It’s worse than DRS and much worse than double points!

    Consecutive Mercedes podiums followed by three Williams and three Red Bulls leaving the last point for a Ferrari or McLaren?

    It’s only going to make it more difficult attracting new teams that can occasionally make a mark in this sport (2009 was not long ago!). Would Gene Haas sign to this new formula?

    On top of better prize money distribution F1 need to attract more sponsor’s money and to achieve that concessions must be made. F1 must make itself more accessible (cheaper tickets, better social media interaction, open testing days, less PR more personalities because some controversy is good, etc.).

    I love this sport and I’ve been here for some time now despite all these ups and downs but if we move to three cars teams I fear stop watching F1 and join Mark Webber on his “F1 Bashing Squad”.

    Is there a “Sack Bernie” petition yet?

  7. McLaren should’ve kept the driver a closely-guarded secret, and sent Topsy out in a plain Stig helmet…

  8. McLaren, who are in the last season of a 20-year partnership with Mercedes

    Wow – I couldn’t quite believe it when I read that but sure enough it has been 20 full seasons with Mercedes at the end of the current one! It’s amazing to think that a whole generation of fans will have grown up watching McLaren with Mercedes engines in its cars.

    It got me thinking about the team’s ‘iconic’ engine partnerships – with Honda of being the first many think of due to the 1988/89 dominance. But in fact that partnership lasted only five seasons (only slightly longer than the TAG/Porsche pairing).

    In fact the next longest association after Mercedes is the Ford/Cosworth period. So while we might look back with nostalgia on the McLaren Honda and McLaren TAG days the reality is that Cosworth and Mercedes have powered McLaren for almost 75% of their seasons in F1 (although they powered less than half of the the McLaren champions).

  9. I do think Toto, Horner and the likes the F1 crew actually DO care about the smaller teams and want them to be in the competition. Unlike what a lot think those in the F1 world are in a little bubble and they do care about one another, but also to what extent from the team leaders depends on the agenda for ones F1 team!!

    Horner says go back to V8 (I would like the sound back) but is so unrealistic and he knows it, but making a point. Wolff and Lauda says Mercs will pull out if they revert to the V8s, a strong but empty statement as they know it wont happen!

    Also I cant help but be cynical that the top teams want the also rans on board just to advert the 3rd cars (which they are contracted to provide if required) and the additional cost! I have said it before- even the billionaires only throw so much cash at a certain sport.

    I long the days of the late 80s/early nineties when there were 39 on the list and they went through pre-qualifying !!!

  10. wolf and horner are being such poleticians – but I hope fairness wins and engines are allowed to be upgrade for the sake of sport and parity – that’s why the v8s worked well when restricted. wolff says is it irresponsible to lift engine restrictions now – the words of the past couple weeks are that Mercedes have found 40-60 more horsepower for next year, this tells me development is ongoing anyway even with the freeze – they(and no doubt renualt and Ferrari) are developing their engines as much as they can without actually fitting them in the cars, and I am sure a lot of money is being spent – as much as possible, whatever Wolff says. if f1 cared about saving money, they should use one engine for every car, otherwise let them develop until there is a fair balance, then freeze – it is not fair for the manufacturers, for competition or for the fans.
    what I think will happen is Ferrar and Redbull will get together and demand v8s to return from 2016, and they wont need Mercedes to agree, and they will get enough teams to agree, at that point Mercedes will come into line and agree on some restrictions lifted in development. Mercedes know if they let an unfreeze, they will lose out, as they are relying on their power unit to stay ahead – it is the sole reason they are where they are, they have not made up 3 seconds a lap in race pace over redbull and gone from a 4th best team to 1st in one summer.
    I would love the v8s back, the sound was amazing compared to this 300hp touring car level drone we have now of local state level motorsport.

    1. You seriously have no idea what you are talking about do you?

      Engine development is not frozen, they are not developing parts for fun they are allowed to upgrade their engines next year under a “token” system with each part being worth x amount of tokens and a limit on the total amount of tokens allowed to be spent before next season, something like 97% of all engine parts are available to be upgraded next year the only limit is on how many of that 97% can be upgraded governed by the tokens.

      Additionally the engine is not the sole reason Mercedes are ahead at all, they have proven on many occasions this season with fastest sectors in high downforce sectors aswell where the engine makes no difference as well as put in strong performances on high downforce circuits where the engine is less important, it is clear that they have made significant gains in terms of downforce and aero efficiency having been working on this car for several years, coupled to an excellent chassis and engine. To suggest it is all down to the engine is ridiculous.

      We don’t need an engine unfreeze, as a minimum you will expect all Mercedes powered teams to make gains next season now they know what Mercedes have done with the engine, how to package it for greatest cooling and aero efficiency etc – They’ll still be behind but you would expect them to be closer.

      Honda will arrive with McLaren as a wild card with noone really sure where they will slot in in terms of performance (Latest I read was the power output from the unit was good but it was quite heavy on fuel?)

      Who cares if Renault and Ferrari are left behind that’s their problem for not doing a good enough job with the engine to start with – we suffered 4 years of Red Bull dominance with no significant complaints against them or people asking for rule changes to try and catch up (Double Diffuser was probably the biggest and that made no real difference in the pecking order) so suck it up and get on with it, not to mention the early 00’s where we suffered the dominance of Ferrari.

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