Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Hamilton has “no concern” over implications of ‘quali mode’ ban for Mercedes

2020 Belgian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton has no concerns the FIA’s coming ban on engine ‘quali modes’ will hit Mercedes’ performance advantage.

He and team mate Valtteri Bottas have taken pole position for all six races so far this year. None of their rivals have got within half a second of them in qualifying.

The FIA has told teams they will not be allowed to change their engines’ performance modes between qualifying and the race from next week’s Belgian Grand Prix. In a letter last week the sport’s governing body said it will impose the new restriction in order to ensure all power units comply with the regulations.

However Hamilton suspects the ‘quali mode’ ban is also being done to make the championship more competitive. “I understand in one respect that they want to see closer racing,” he said.

“But it’ll be interesting to see what they do moving forwards. Regardless of what they do, we are the best team and we’re going to handle whatever it is as the professionals we are. We’ll just continue to do a better job.

“Whatever they change, whatever they throw at us we’re going to catch it, assess it and then deliver to the highest standard. So there is no concern for me.”

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2020
Why the FIA told teams it will ban ‘quali modes’ from the Belgian Grand Prix
The modes teams use in qualifying cannot be run constantly throughout the race as they increase fuel consumption and place extra strain on power units. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said that if they can no longer ‘turn the engines up’ in qualifying, they will be able to use more power during races.

“If Formula 1 were to ban, in-season, certain power unit modes, then I think it will actually help us in the race. Because if you can avoid damaging your power unit in those few qualifying laps that you have available in Q3 and the odd lap in the race, the damage matrix goes down dramatically.

“Five laps of quali mode not being done gives us 25 laps of more performance in the race. That is something that we believe will give us more performance.

“You must take into [account] even if it may hurt us more in qualifying – which I’m not sure [about] – and it’s a couple of tenths, then it will hurt all the others in the same way. But for us, we are always very marginal on what we can extract from the power unit and if we were to be limited in qualifying modes, well then we will be strong in the race.”

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16 comments on “Hamilton has “no concern” over implications of ‘quali mode’ ban for Mercedes”

  1. Its Renault and Honda that should worry about this ban. Also in Belgium Mercs will be worried about slipstream at the end of Kamel straight especially for RP who seem to have good top speed.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      21st August 2020, 13:45

      Yeah, especially in terms of reliability. Now they have to keep up with the fastest and most reliable engine and they are going to find out that in order to run as close to Mercedes as they have in the past, they’ll have to deal with reliability issues. Up to this point they were fighting Mercedes – fighting reliability and Mercedes is going to be much more difficult. Did they forget the McLaren-Honda days or the Renault-Red Bull hybrid issues?

      As for Ferrari, they are going to have to boost Leclerc’s car even more which will be a direct violation of the FIA agreement. The other Ferraris may end up fighting… with Williams.

      It’s impossible to tell how this will play out but it definitely looks to benefit Mercedes and it could backfire royally for the FIA. What will they do then? Bring back qualy modes for the next race?

  2. I think Wolff gives quite a clear observation of how this is going to work out.

  3. As if wolff has never pushed for rules to be tweaked in-season.
    I reckon this tweak has little to do with actually changing rules and the dynamic of racing. Besides the q mode can simply be retained as one of the modes merc uses during the race.
    the fia might think merc’s exploit is only viable during quali hence the tweak, kind of like they knew ferrari’s exploit might not work if the fia enforced a couple tweaks.
    the rules are clear in saying that the fuel flow limits are not to be exploitable.

    1. As if wolff has never pushed for rules to be tweaked in-season.

      Curious when he has? Can’t think of a recent example.

      1. Sshh, don’t ruin his narrative…

  4. “We are the best team” Lewis Hamilton, 2020.

    And there was me thinking the effect of the pandemic or the car copying situation was the most bizarre thing we’d have this year. Now Mercedes are admitting they’re the best team!? Wow………

    1. Pedro Lopes Garcia
      20th August 2020, 12:39

      But they are by a large margin. Probably they are the best team in history.

  5. Totally agree.
    Mercedes will not be bother too much by all of this mess.

    But Honda-powered teams will feel itself very uncomfortable.

  6. I see it’s called “quali mode”, but wasn’t the point that the FIA wants the cars in the same mode through both Q and the entire race?

    Bottas remarked in an interview that this would also mean less overtakes. So he must also have been under the impression that the use of “higher” engine modes is also banned during the race and not just in quali.

    Also, don’t understand why Mercedes is using this ‘party mode’ in Q3 for this season. They are so far ahead already anyway, what is the point of gaining a few tenths extra? Especially if not using it would give extra performance during so much of the race where Red Bull is shown to be just as fast or even faster.

    1. @f1osaurus Fair point about them not needing to turn the engine fully up for Q3 at the moment, but I guess there are some reasons to do it. It gives them extra margin in case some of their rivals pull put an extra couple of tenths they weren’t expecting and/or the Merc drivers make mistakes on their laps. Also, smashing lap records and beating their rivals by large margins is extra publicity and credit to the Mercedes brand, showing their dominance over the field.

      Of course, the other thing is there’s not much evidence to say Mercedes aren’t already holding back in qualifying and could turn their engines up even further if they were under threat.

      1. @keithedin

        Also, smashing lap records and beating their rivals by large margins is extra publicity and credit to the Mercedes brand, showing their dominance over the field.

        I was actually thinking the opposite. It just causes people to moan about how useless it is to watch F1 (or quali at least). Plus the ever present “Oh they must be cheating then.

        Also true that they might be holding back already. It’s clearly not the engine that gives them the margin. It’s not like the other Mercedes powered teams are nipping at their heels.

  7. Why would he care about losing a couple of tenths a lap when the car is already a good second faster than the rest?

  8. I’ve warned already – this will just drive Mercedes to work on reliability and bring race power closer to quali power.

    The others lose 1s per lap relative when they are both trying their damndest. Since detuning & reliability is easier than tuning, I wouldn’t be surprised if this just makes Merc further ahead in the race soon.

  9. Meh Lewis will probably still beat the only real threat – Bottas.

    And when Pirelli turns to mush, Verstappen will win.

    I reckon quali will be a bit closer to P3.

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