Toto Wolff, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Engine parity clarification “not relevant” to Mercedes

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In the round-up: Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff says the FIA’s clarification requiring manufacturers to give their engine customers parity on performance, revealed by RaceFans last month, is “not relevant” to his team following Christian Horner’s comments.

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41 comments on “Engine parity clarification “not relevant” to Mercedes”

  1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    5th March 2018, 0:05

    I’m not surprised a driver like K Mag who drives for a team that doesn’t contend for wins supports a cost cap. I’m not sure I do as anywhere in any sport, there are power house teams and teams who play on a lower budget. It’s a tricky topic especially when it comes to motorsport.

    1. We’d all think there was something wrong if one team was allowed to use more fuel per hour or have bigger engines than all the other teams, even if that team didn’t actually produce tangibly better results. Money buys performance in motor racing. All teams in a sport want to believe they have the same chance of being champions that year as every other competitor. So while F1 should reward performance (the Constructors Championship), we don’t want it to get out of hand so that some teams are allowed the equivalent of bigger engines or to feed more fuel to their engines.

  2. Honest question, who here believes Toto?

    1. @fletchuk I think Toto is been truthful in saying that Mercedes always give customers the same hardware/software.

      I think the issue was that they wouldn’t always give the customer teams access to all the modes within that software.

      1. But these new regs require the manufacturer to share access to all modes no?

        1. Yes, but I don’t think it’s any worrying to them, williams and force india, even assuming they didn’t have the special modes last year and this year they will, don’t have the money to compete with the top 3 teams, and in the case of williams, probably not even the drivers!

      2. @stefmeister

        I think a lot of this stems from the story that came out of Spa last year, where Mercedes contacted FI (I think) and “allowed” them to run in a different mode for a few laps. But I think people have jumped to too many conclusions regarding that. There were no over the air updates to enable a different mode – it was just the driver changing some switches. The mode was available all the time – they were just “instructed” not to use it.

        The engines are finely tuned things – there’s a balancing act between getting more performance out of the engine and maximising it’s longevity. There’s tons of data constantly being fed back about the state of the engine, and the environment it’s operating in. Could the risk that mode because of the air temp/humidity? Because it was a new engine? Because it was an old one that wouldn’t race again? Because the telemetry showed that it could handle it?

        I’m not so naive as to think there isn’t an element of Mercedes being willing to take bigger risks with a customers engine because it benefits the works race team, I think people reading some conspiracy theory into this are viewing it too simply.

        I believe Toto.

        1. @fluxsource, the claim came from the former CEO of the Lotus team, who claimed that the team were given access to a different engine map for the Belgian GP in order to help Grosjean pressurise Vettel.

          However, it has to be noted that particular CEO (Carter) had no experience in motorsport, or any form of engineering expertise, before entering F1 – he was appointed because of his financial links with Genii, and his role was to overhaul the finances of the team. Because of that, I’m cautious about simply accepting the word of an individual whose technical knowledge is probably no better than most people on this forum, and potentially worse than some commentators here (there were some aspects of his comments that did not seem to make a lot of sense technically).

    2. I think it’s irrelevant. Regardless if they wanted to they have may ways to still keep something extra hidden from even their costumers.
      @ldg95 Maybe Paddy has great professionalism or had when he was at Mercedes or conspiracy, Paddy is in Williams to act as a bridge in order to make Williams a B team.

      1. @peartree Wow that’s a stretch but you really think Paddy has 2 paymasters? In that case I would expect Williams to receive parity on PU but you are quite right, there are 100 different ways Merc could subtlety limit performance in a customer PU. But here’s the rub: Horner in his usual back stab suggests (unsubtlety) that Williams ISN’T getting parity, and then Wolf says the whole subject “isn’t relevant”. Wolff always fires from the hip so I believe there is definitely an undercurrent of some description.

        1. @baron About Paddy and Mercedes I was just throwing something out there. I think it’s odd, odd how amicable, charitable Paddy is of Mercedes. Also I’d like to see how the new Williams performs, it’s a completely new car and very similar to Mercedes.

    3. Mercedes have a better car than their customers and better drivers, therefore there isn’t any reason to hobble their customers’ power units.

    4. Romain Grosjean, maybe!?

    5. Fletch
      I do up to a point. I think they supply the same hardware and software. What many seem to think should happen is that Force India and Williams on budgets of probably under £100 million a year, using the same power unit as Mercedes, the manufacturer of said power unit, with a budget of £300 odd million, would be able to compete on the same level. That is just not going to happen. The £200 million odd difference matters. Her’s this as an example, Red Bull, despite buying their power unit from Renault, I can guarantee will finish ahead of their works teams, why they spent more money and are better staffed, despite Renault knowing that power unit inside out.

    6. I believe him, Mercedes powered cars have exceeded expectations in everyway.

      We know that Ferrari supplied year old engines to sauber and we know that Red Bull claimed that Renault were holding out on them. That sauber appear to have wanted this deal is indicative of a problem team in which they have no intention of competing, merely maintaining their presence and staying solvent. It is in the interests of everyone that they are forced to compete or go away. Renault attempting to keep potential competitive advantages to themselves is understandable but again, it does not do the sport any good as a whole.

      A two tier series in which customer teams cannot hope to compete against factory teams has to be avoided and if your in the engine game as well as running a race team, you have to live with that or source an engine from a non factory team such as Honda.

      It seems obvious that the rules are targeted at them, not Mercedes. What makes you think otherwise?

    7. The only thing that I’m curious about the rule is the engine updates. I’m assuming the customer teams will have to have said updates immediately available. And use them if they wish

      While I don’t think manufacturers give inferior material to their clients, I believe however that they can’t take as much performance out of the PUs, they might use different gearboxes, coolant, oil and fuel, those things have an impact on performance.

      It feels a bit redundant, maybe if the clients received the complete power train it would have more sense, but that is a step towards a spec/client formula, which I don’t like too much and from that to client chassis would be a small step

    8. Me. If Mercedes had been issuing unequal engines, Force India is outspoken enough, and willing enough to risk shooting itself in the foot, to have said something.

      Besides, the main impetus for the move is Christian Horner implying that Renault doesn’t issue equal engines. Simply because one supplier (might) do that doesn’t mean the others automatically will.

  3. @fletchuk
    Paddy Lowe said countless times last season that Mercedes supply EVERYTHING the same and he also said at the Williams 2018 car reveal that they supply everything the same.

    Is paddy lowe a lying controlled undercover agent now???

    1. @ldg95 Some people will always be adamant that Mercedes is a big evil company that always cheats thus having their dominance and other teams don’t have a chance to beat them even before the season starts. You know, instead of accepting that many people in Brackley work their ass hard to design and build the car and/or other teams/manufacturer can’t do a better job (also read: give [some *cough* Red Bull *cough*] team Mercedes engine and they will beat Mercedes F1 team).

      1. @sonicslv

        These are the same kind of people that look at Usain Bolt as assume he must be cheating, instead of celebrating an amazing competitor.


        1. 2 different sports mate, Track and Field is dirty to it’s core. Usain Bolt is a cheater that never got caught and I’m Jamaican too, literary the whole Jamaican team has been caught apart from Usain.

          1. @ldg95

            Thank you for proving my point so eloquently.

      2. That kind of “they keep winning, so must be cheating” narrative is nothing different than claims thrown around during Red Bull’s championship years is it? I still remember stuff like people pointing me to the FOM on-board telemetry as somehow definitive proof of RBR using traction control and things like that. Once Mercedes falls a bit behind (and that will happen eventually, nobody remains on the top forever in this sport) it will quickly disappear.

        Some people just judge stuff based on their emotions and subjective perception rather than any calm reasoning – and while obviously there is nothing inherently wrong with that (everybody does that to a bigger or lesser extent, after all), cheating claims and all sorts of conspiracy theories that turn up every now and then (see complaints about Hamilton being sabotaged midway through ’14 and ’16) appeal nicely to that personal fondness towards particular team/driver, or lack of thereof. X doesn’t like Mercedes winning another title in a row, so X’s less likely to think about the human effort and talent put in the factory to actually stay at the top. And a couple of years ago, if X’s disliked Vettel, he’d sit among the crowd shouting stuff about poor driving being compensated by Newey’s cars.

        Nothing surprising, really.

        1. @fluxsource @artanonim Yeah, although it’s kinda sad for a sport that one of attraction is including building the best car by the best people, many “so-called” fans disregard this part and think it should work like spec series. Sure the drivers are heroes, but they’re far from the only heroes in the team.

    2. Belgium GP 2015, Vettel vs Grosjaen during the last two laps the Lotus team sent a requested to Merc to let them use the special mode before Vettel’s Ferrari tyres blew up at the top the Rouge bend

      1. No Lotus did not send no such request. It was Mercedes who suggested that they used a specific engine mode.

        That was revealed on the Misseapex podcast when former Lotus team boss Matthew Carter was their guest.

  4. News that force India is sold to rich energy again, and rich energy wants to rival red bull itseems. Rofl

  5. Not relevant, so they have a new loophole?

  6. Tony Mansell
    5th March 2018, 11:04

    I wish I could find the quote but a Williams driver, I think, was told he could turn it to a particular mode but just for 2 laps. He said the performance difference was night and day. I remember thinking at the time it was outrageous but it wasn’t in the zeitgeist so it was ignored.

    If you think car manufacturers don’t meddle with performance you’re crazy. ‘Cheating’ in f1 is as old as f1 but this isn’t far off match fixing and the same appropriation should be metered out to the perpetrators.

    All that money and advantage and they still have to cheat.

    1. It was Romain Grosjean in SPA 2015 in the Lotus-Mercedes, he was trying to overtake Sebastian Vettel.

      1. It is also worth noting that Grosjean himself did not make any claims with regards to the engine modes being any more different, but instead the claims came from the former financier of the team.

  7. I would say it’s probably a lot more relevant to Ferrari. After all, no Mercedes customer has ever had to run a one year old engine spec, and jealously guarding every little opportunity for an advantage is rather Ferrari’s MO. Not to say that other teams don’t do this, but I really don’t think that Mercedes were ever the biggest culprits.

    1. It wasn’t like Ferrari made Sauber use one year old engines. Sauber admnistration saw it as an opportunity to save some money on that front and invest it (their words) in the chassis.

    2. Super pre-conceived @mazdachris Merc and Ferrari denied supplying RB. Ferrari did at least offered a year old engine to STR. This suspicion has always lied with Mercedes because of what they did to their costumers in 2014 pre-season, particularly McLaren. If by any chance a McLaren or any other team had come up with a good chassis they could’ve fight for the title and make the Merc bosses rethink their f1 investment and pull the plug on the team, return to the pre 2010 days.

      1. @peartree On the other side of the gossip, we hear Niki Lauda already offering handshake for an agreement to Dietrich Mateschitz but with some commercial deal requirements that RBR failed to approve before a deadline. I don’t say this story must be the truth, but Mercedes didn’t flatly refuse to supply RBR. We also know Horner and Marko aren’t always honest with their statements either.

      2. @peartree Thing is, Mercedes build decent F1 cars, and Ferrari have historically struggled in that respect. You’d say that probably Mercedes can have greater conviction that no team is going to take their engine and beat them with it. Ferrari it seems are more content with minnows like Haas who will never threaten them, or offering out year old engines. Sure, it’s a cheaper deal, right? But at the same time, let’s be honest, nobody is going to take up a deal like that if they have a choice. The PUs are not *that* expensive in the scheme of things.

        Anyway, it’s my opinion, nothing more. I’m not basing it on empirical evidence, just my own sense of the business philosophies at Mercedes and Ferrari. Ferrari certainly have more to lose than Mercedes by giving out decent PUs – this is the team which has no drive for innovation or risk taking and has operated with a culture of blame and fear for decades now. If Ferrari get beaten by a customer with its PU, then someone undoubtedly gets fired, and Ferrari get slaughtered in the press. This is a problem they’ve created for themselves, and a problem not shared by Mercedes et al.

        1. @mazdachris Ferrari doesn’t want to have a threat, obviously, I’m not saying that, what I am saying is that regardless of Ferrari getting out raced by costumers, it happened sometimes in 05 and 2012 is not what they want but Ferrari will still be in f1 after being beaten by a costumer, Mercedes won’t. If Mercedes were to give RB engines, if RB beat Mercedes, Dieter Zetsche would cut the main team, and we would have RedBull Mercedes. Are you saying that Manor and Sauber weren’t allowed to have updated Ferrari pu’s? Remember 2012 Sauber was often ahead of Ferrari so it has happened.

  8. Engine parity is not relevant for mercedes. Unparity is.

  9. I think this all rather stems from the Torro Rosso incident at the end of last year. Typical Christian Horner deflection but I’m sure he is conscious of the treatment Torro Rosso received from Renault with “refurbished” parts being supplied and wants to ensure that he receives parity should they decide to jump ship to Honda.

  10. Regarding Toto’ defence of his team, if you all truly want more history on this topic, then I’d suggest you all listen to former Lotus TP Matthew Carter’s interview on missedapex podcast. Hopefully that’ll stop some of this baseless speculation, especially the one that Mercedes hampered McLaren in 2014.

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