Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018

Verstappen says no to “unfair” ban on Mercedes’ engine modes

2018 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen isn’t in favour of stopping Mercedes from using their high-power engine modes, an idea which was suggested by his Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

After the Australian Grand Prix Horner said Red Bull was pushing Renault to match Mercedes’ high-power qualifying engine modes but also suggested the practice could be banned by forcing teams to use the same mode throughout qualifying and the race.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2018
Mercedes explains its ‘party mode’ engine performance settings
However Verstappen said he isn’t in favour of using the rules to remove Mercedes’ advantage.

“Honestly not because they just do a better job than everyone else so why would you take it away?” he said. “I mean, it’s not fair to them.”

“It’s up to F1 to change the rules to make it more difficult to keep developing things but you shouldn’t now take it away because they suddenly are really, really good. It’s unfair to them.”

Verstappen said it was up to Mercedes’ rivals to raise their game and match them. “You have to be honest and you have to be clear about it, they just do a better job than everyone else.”

“Otherwise I think we should just use all the same engines, but that’s not what everybody wants.”

FIA race director Charlie Whiting said in Australia the sport’s governing body is not looking into a ban.

“There’s all sorts of modes in these engines, we know full well that they change at various times during the race,” he said. “We’ve not come under any pressure to do so and until such time as that happens then we won’t.”

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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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50 comments on “Verstappen says no to “unfair” ban on Mercedes’ engine modes”

  1. Gotta love Verstappen

      1. Agreed…Max is awesome!

  2. Max is wise beyond his years. Fantastic. I can’t wait to see him winning regularly.

    1. agree 100%. I was one of the people that thought he was to young for F1, but i’m happy to be proven so wrong. No way he’s not a future world champion when he gets the right car under him.

  3. 15 years ago they changed the rules to stop manufacturers from having engines specifically for qualifying in a move to cut costs and make a more level playing field. Now we have more complex engines which have all these different modes, one of the modes on the Mercedes is clearly specifically for qualifying and it seems like the customer teams of this manufacturer don’t have access to it. So we are seeing pretty much the same thing as the early 2000’s, qualifying specific engines but this time they are built in modes as opposed to completely separate units, this increases the costs and gives a greater advantage to the manufacturer backed teams. The rules have failed.

    1. and it seems like the customer teams of this manufacturer don’t have access to it

      Rules were changed for this year to ensure that customer teams have access to all of the software & engine modes the factory team does.

      1. Guybrush Threepwood
        5th April 2018, 23:44

        Which the FIA have advised they will only investigate if the customer team lodges an official complaint… Which is never going to happen because the customer teams won’t bite the hand that feeds them.

    2. As far as I know Williams and Force India have it in their contract with Mercedes (and the FIA rules say) that all the modes Hamilton and Bottas use are available to the drivers of their customer teams. The only customer team driver I’ve heard saying he didn’t have access to all the modes was Lance Stroll, but I don’t see this as evidence Mercedes breached their contract.
      After reading the various statements put out by people like Toto Wolf and Paddy Lowe I suspect each mode has its “terms and conditions”, and as you’d expect with any other contract with terms and conditions, the more aggressive the mode the more terms and conditions there are. In the case of a budget strapped team like Force India, they might restrict their drivers to using the least aggressive modes necessary to do the job because of their desire to preserve the life of the engine.

    3. I think Stroll’s statement was that he couldn’t use all of the modes following a mistake made by Williams in practice that meant they could risk using them, rather than a claim that they hadn’t been made available by Mercedes.

      1. Yep, Stroll mistakenly used the “party” mode in free practice and effectively used all it’s availability for the life of this engine. It was a team mistake. Apparently LH only used it for a lap or 2 in q3. I guess it’s like the original kers where they had a set limit that was reset per lap, except in this case it’s about the life of the engine and too much use will hasten it’s demise, even if the engine doesn’t explode (not likely I grant) it’ll be less effective in normal modes if used too much hence the strict usage terms and conditions Merc stipulate. There is probably some deal where Merc provide free replacements of the pu if used within the boundaries, or the team must buy a new one once it’s reached a certain performance longevity target that could be less than 7 races if used inappropriately. Probably penalties attached to over use too.

    4. As long as the engines have had ecus there have been modes. Iirc even before the ecus the drivers could adjust some carburettor and timing settings while driving. Due to the sheer complexity and insane amount of eletronics the current engines have a lot more combinations and different sub menus. The cars essentially have multiple modes for each corner of the each lap of the race because the way the drivetrain is used to harvest and use energy. Not to mention how much the cars can be controlled from the pitwall.

      It is not the engine modes that is the issue. It is the oil burning. In the end ferrari and renault probably have some ideas how mercedes is doing it but they don’t want to say it because they are doing it too. Mercedes is just better at cheating.

      1. Oil burning isn’t allowed, and when rules banning it were introduced Mercedes applied the rule to their then current engine which had been exempted from the regulation when it was introduced. If I recall correctly the rule made no difference to the performance of the Mercedes engine.

    5. @socksolid to quote Colin Chapman ” Rules are for the interpretation of wise men and the obedience of fools”

  4. Damn, he didn’t toe the party line. Good stuff, Max, good on you.

  5. If the modes were banned then Mercedes could find another way of doing the same thing, which might be worse for everyone else than what they’re up against now. As Charlie said, the drivers are changing modes during a race, so presumably they occasionally select the wrong mode. I don’t know of any driver admitting they lost some places because of selecting a wrong mode … Oh wait, didn’t Hamilton crash into Rosberg in 2016 because Rosberg had selected the wrong mode? So there we go: Mercedes does have an Achilles heel.

    1. Hamilton also struggled in Azerbaijan in 2016 with the wrong mode, compounded by the rules of the time preventing the pitwall from offering guidance. @drycrust

    2. No, Hamilton crashed into Rosberg because Rosberg used the wrong mode, and refused to yield the position to the faster Hamilton, even if it meant crashing out of the race.

      Same thing he tried to pull in Austria (although I don’t think an engine mode was involved there).

      1. Is that like Abu Dhabi 2016 where Hamilton refused to yield to a faster Rosberg?
        Was that engine modes or Ham being a sore loser?

        1. Rosberg was not faster than Hamilton in that race. Stop making up stories.

        2. Rosberg was not faster than Hamilton in Abu Dhabi, what a strange thing to say.

  6. I fully agree with him.

  7. Mercedes aren’t alone in running non race modes in qualifying, they’re just better at it than anyone else.

    1. Absolutely @emu55, which is why Horner was complaining!

      1. F1 speak translated too common English

        “The FIA should do X” -> “We do X better than the other teams so that would help us win”
        “X should be banned” -> “Other teams do X better than us so banning it would hurt them more than us and help us win”

  8. Great stuff Max.

  9. @dieterrencken there’s a typo on the title “to” instead of “too”

    1. sorry I misread it at first, no typos @dieterrencken

  10. I agree with Horner …. What’s happening now is why I stopped watching F1 for a good few years …. Same team winning every year , using multiple point fuel injection into the cylinder block when no over team was doing it giving them a second a lap advantage , extra setting for qualifications, if they are that good why the need for these extra quirks ? Let’s have a level playing field. The lads obviously eyeing number 2 spot at mercedes ;-).

    1. Tom
      When has F1 ever had a level playing field? A team finding, and keeping an advantage is all part of the game in F1. Mercedes has done nothing wrong, the advantage they have is legal. The onus is on the others to catch-up.

    2. If you want to watch races with all drivers on the same machinery, you can look into other series. Why sticking with F1?
      F1 is competition between different drivers AND different manufacturers.

    3. Perhaps Indycar or nascar might be more your thing?

      Same cars different teams / drivers.

    4. Why not find a series that’s more to your taste Tom?

  11. Max angling for a Mercedes drive when Hamilton retires?

    1. Why always search for a reason why someone has said something? Isn’t not just enough to assume that this is Max’s own view of the whole story?

  12. It’s called design and engineering. It’s not a quirk, they designed the engine this way and system this way – including the location of the turbos if I recall, all within the rules and all to gain advantage on the track. That is what I like about F1 the engineers can come up with many different solutions to the same problem but someone’s will always be better whether its their engine, exhaust, aero or electronics design / implementation. I don’t want another Indy style race series.

    The issue for most teams is that if you got the initial design wrong you are stuck making derivative iterations to make it better, you can’t scrap it and start over. It’s just like in coding / engineering some architectural and design decisions made at the outset, set the foundation for future changes (good and bad). This is why in every formula era there has always been a dominate team, some continue iterating and get better but most just have to wait until they try again in the next formula.

  13. … said Max, with one eye on Bottas’ seat next year ;)

  14. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    5th April 2018, 20:22

    I certainly think Verstappen has changed personality wise since he started in F1. When talking about racing and any incidents he’s been involved in, that is when i don’t like his attitude. But i respect what he says.

    And I also don’t see why Mercedes can’t use all that they have. They have managed to be by far the best for 3 years and stayed close to that last year and probably similar this year. I don’t see why they should have to stop using something they have managed to make work so well.

  15. Neil (@neilosjames)
    5th April 2018, 20:44

    I’m not convinced Red Bull’s ‘official position’ is that they want the modes banned… think it was just Horner trying to stir things up. But regardless, it’s nice seeing a driver secure enough in his position that he freely speaks his mind.

  16. I think it was when Schumacher became untouchable that I drifted of regular F1 weekends.
    Then came Hamilton in 2007 (I admit I don’t follow the junior championships) and my F1 hormones started rising once again… I was excited by the new blood and since then I I haven’t missed a race, including 5 trips overseas to catch the action live trackside.
    Even the Vettel/Newy/RedBull era couldn’t break my spirit…
    Entering the fourth season of what seems to be another Mercedes domination and once again my hope for uncertainty is replaced by predictable outcomes.
    I join the rest of you by praising Max’s Winner approach and beg for the other teams to stop fighting for second best and up your game…

    1. So you predicted Vettel for the opening win?

      The worst thing about Melbourne was the overtaking during virtual safety car and then immediate lock in via the safety car. Alonso locked in too.

      It wasn’t the drivers fault, the fia dictatethe rules and we get what we got.

      We need less aero and more mechanical grip. LH has been saying this for some time now.

  17. It is not a Qualifier-boost/party mode, it is a save-your-engine-for-the-rest-of-the-game mode.

  18. Guybrush Threepwood
    5th April 2018, 23:46

    I have a feeling that Max may already have a Mercedes drive lined up to replace Hamilton who has set a retirement date at least after Max’s contract with RBR runs out.

  19. How can you ban an engine mode? They will just say the party mode is the normal mode and they turn it down for reliability. Are they turning the mode up for quali or just turning normal mode down at other times? Try putting that down in watertight rules.

  20. Max talks a lot of sense. Good on him because he’s 100% right. Maybe F1, FIA, Liberty should put Max on the board

  21. Umm….. why does it matter what Max Verstappen thinks of the possibility of a Mercedes engine ban? It’s not his team. His opinion has absolutely no bearing on any ruling. No one IN F1 cares about his opinion on this matter. Click-bait.

    1. On the contrary I think it is great to hear where drivers stand on issues. It’s not like anyone would have expected his opinion to change anything…he was merely asked a question and he gave a great and mature answer. Clickbait this was not. Clickbait would have been something like “Max and his boss feuding over pending engine modes ban” ie. there’s no feud and there’s no pending ban, just an opinion floated by Horner that Max was asked about.

  22. Good on him. The fairest comment I’ve heard from anyone in the paddock. Don’t think his boss will be too happy about it though.

    1. I doubt Horner cares that Max has a different opinion on something that is not going to happen anyway. I’m sure they both overwhelmingly admire each other.

  23. The irony in all this is that Pirelli will change the tyre tread for three GPs because of Mercedes complaints of graining. Red Bull had an advantage there. Mercedes got what they wanted anyway. Having their cake, and eating it too.

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