Red Bull hope ‘quali mode’ ban won’t increase Mercedes’ advantage

2020 Italian Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian hopes the coming ban on teams using ‘quali modes’ won’t increase Mercedes’ advantage when it is introduced.

As RaceFans revealed last month, the FIA has told teams they will be required to use the same engine performance modes in qualifying and the race from this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

Mercedes’ performance advantage over their rivals has tended to be greater over single qualifying laps than it is in races. They are therefore expected to have more to lose from not being able to ‘turn the engines up’ any more.

Red Bull has qualified closest to Mercedes in most of the races so far this year. But team principal Christian Horner says it isn’t clear whether the ‘quali mode’ ban will help them or not.

“It’s going to have some effect,” he said. “We’ll see what effect it has during next week or during the next couple of weeks.

“So let’s see. It’s got to do something. Hopefully we won’t make it worse.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes all four power unit manufacturers will be affected by the ban.

“It varies from track to track which mode you run and what the difference is to the race mode,” he said. “But it’s not like we run the ‘party mode’, like it’s being called, on every single race track.

“The so-called quali mode does quite high damage to the engine and obviously reduces engine life. All within the envelope, but obviously if you can avoid it, you’re not going to run it.

“Having said that of course it will impact us in a way, starting from Monza. But I have no doubt that it will be the same for all the other PU manufacturers.”

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45 comments on “Red Bull hope ‘quali mode’ ban won’t increase Mercedes’ advantage”

  1. As RaceFans revealed last month, the FIA has told teams they will be required to use the same engine performance modes in qualifying and the race

    So again “modes” mentioned as plural?

    Yet the FIA states that there will be no different engine modes anymore at all:

    the subsequent Technical Directive will require the power unit to be run in the same single mode during qualifying and race

    1. @f1osaurus There’s no contradiction here. Each team will not be allowed to change mode between qualifying and the race. The first point you highlight refers to the fact that teams have different engine modes because they have different engines. It would be incorrect to write “the FIA has told teams they will be required to use the same engine performance mode in qualifying and the race” because Mercedes do not have the same engine modes as Ferrari, etc…

      1. @keithcollantine That’s far fetched since the FIA do manage it in singular.

        Besides, the way you keep quoting ‘quali mode’ also incorrectly suggests there is just one mode out of many being banned. Which is not the case. It’s not ‘quali mode’ that’s being banned, but basically all “special” engine modes and only one can be used.

        1. @f1osaurus the details which have been given so far do indicate that the teams can use a limited selection of different engine modes.

          They are allowed to use a specific engine mode for slower laps, which includes the reconnaissance lap to the grid, slower laps when returning to the pits (e.g. after a qualifying lap or at the end of the race) and also a specific mode for use behind the safety car. Although they are situational, there are situation where a driver would be allowed to change to a different engine mode during a race.

          1. Yes that is true, but these are not really for “running” during the race. It’s also not the gist of the article.

          2. @anon

            I fail to understand how they will manage this really? Engine tuning maps along with energy recovery/boost is what is in question. Unless they use entirely different mapping on sat and/or between quali sessions, which being banned. I would understand. However I assume this would not necessarily will/can solve the party mode. Since they can map quite a lot of modes in to the dials… They can still potentially add that extra push parameters into one dial, and only use that mode in q3… And since all buttons and whissles are color label able, they can distinctively differentiate it so it doesn’t accidentally used during races… Unless of course it is absolutely necessary and they can get away with the engine punishment…

          3. My point is, this ban without details is absolute garbage of words… It is not like BMW quali engine vs race engine… These are just engine tuning/performance mods and controlled by dials.. They already have multiple modes to begin with, and it is minor nuance to map this permanently for the race probably… But I fail to see how effective this ban is with current wording/application.

          4. They are allowed to use a specific engine mode for slower laps, which includes the reconnaissance lap to the grid, slower laps when returning to the pits (e.g. after a qualifying lap or at the end of the race) and also a specific mode for use behind the safety car.

            As far as I can tell the FIA’s rule bans engine life preserving or cooler running or power reduction modes as well as power enhancing modes. My worry is the new rules will expect the Stewards to make subjective decisions, which can end up punishing teams or drivers (especially those near the back of the grid) for minor infractions.

        2. Just to clarify, they are not banning any modes, just limiting the use of modes to one per qualifying and race, I.E. each team will have to decide which mode they are using prior to qualifying and it will have to be used for the rest of the weekend except under exceptional situations , the two cars per team may even use different modes to each other, but only one per car per quali/race.

    2. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
      1st September 2020, 11:07

      You must be fun at parties @f1osaurus

      1. @asleepatthewheel Actually I am a delight.

        1. @f1osaurus your table is ready. Party of one, your table is ready.”

          “Ah how delightful, now I can get my party mode on.”

          1. ;) @robbie
            Based on his comments here, I can vividly imagine @f1osaurus even then stubbornly arguing whilst digging a deeper hole for himself with every word uttered.

    3. Teams is plural as well!

      1. @coldfly Yes there are multiple teams, but only one engine mode.

        1. there are multiple teams, but only one engine mode.

          That’s totally wrong!
          Obviously each PU manufacturer has its own PU mapping (=mode).
          But even customer teams can opt to have a different mapping if that better suits their petrol and lubricants.

          1. @coldfly Each of the teams uses one engine mode for both quali and race. It’s really not that hard …

          2. Each of the teams uses one engine mode for both quali and race. It’s really not that hard …

            I know that English is not your first language, but please don’t be this annoyingly stubborn! You will end up having all your parties by yourself.

            ‘Each of the teams’ is singular.
            ‘Teams’ is plural.
            The original sentence was plural (in present tense to make it clearer): ‘teams are required to use the same engine performance modes
            Not: ‘each of the teams is required to use the same engine performance mode‘.

          3. It doesn’t change the fact that the sentence is poorly structured. It would be simpler to state that each team is required to use a single performance mode across quali and race.

  2. I think it’ll make things worse Christian. That’s so not freaking fair whatsoever! Nobody will give you an engine as good as what the others have, so they just win and win and win, and leave you just not allowed to win, ever :(

  3. This could end up being an interesting development.

    Can that mode then be a different one at the next race? Does this then also open up opportunities to fine tune modes to specific circuits or deal with engine life as they get towards the end of a cycle?

    Is the restriction just for quali and the race? Or does it apply to the race weekend? If just for quali and the race is there any info by when the team has to notify the authorities of which mode they intend to use?

    1. @muzza – Each Team is allowed to use all its various modes during P1, P2 , P3 as part of their testing/planning to determine which mode they wish to run for Quali and Race. There is nothing to indicate that they would have to use the same mode at the next race, I.E. Yes, they can fine tune modes and select a different mode for each race, they just have to make the decision prior to Quali and then stick with it for the weekend. (Not sure on when exactly they have to notify the officials, but certainly prior to Quali)

      1. @marlg Cheers for that.

        Actually for me that adds an extra element to the strategic mix then.

        Combined with the idea that banning party mode oils even up the field which I think we’ll see this weekend and next doesn’t have the desired result…

        But does offer up an extra element of strategy/variable into the race weekend mix.

  4. I hope Horner enjoys watching Max finishing 25sec behind slowest of Mercedes in race condition and with cars behind Max nearly a lap behind. Enjoy the snoozefest of F1 that this ruling is about to bring.

    1. Opposed to the snoozefest of F1 that the hybrid era brought?

      1. Atleast right now we have Max close to Mercs challenging Bottas and occasionally tripping Mercs to take win.

  5. This can go either way. I suspect Mercedes will be a bit closer to P3. But even if they are further ahead? What’s the difference. 0.5s advantage vs 0.8s advantage, not much change. But if they get down to 0.3s Verstappen can split Mercedes drivers quite regularly.

  6. Of course its going to be worse for Mercedes. Horner has been making it clear that it’s the Mercedes party mode that’s responsible for RB being second best for the last 6 years.
    Unless he’s been crying Wolff all this time?

    1. Lol, yes, feels like he’s back peddling already.

    2. Mercedes wiped the floor with everyone in Spain and without party mode

  7. Its going to be worse for Mercedes in qualifying, but it will favor them in the race.

    All the extra-punch that they have available for quallifying (within the engine’s “envelope” as Toto said) will be available for the race -diluted in the higher number of laps, sure, but still increasing the advantage of Mercede’s engine over the others.

    1. Same will apply to the others, but maybe from a better quali position

  8. I think this is going to backfire horribly. I’d imagine Mercedes will be slightly slower in Qualifying but still hold a strong enough advantage to lock out the front row, and in the race might even end up being a little faster. But even if they are slower in Qualifying – so will everyone else. Obviously this was to try and kerb the Mercedes advantage but I kinda think it’s just going to solidify it.

    Unless of course running the engine in one mode for the whole race will increase reliability concerns… that might make things different. But again it’ll increase for everyone else too, so nothing will change.

  9. I still don’t understand why this couldn’t wait until the end of the season, this mid-season shifting of the goalposts always leaves a sour taste and by all accounts it won’t have the desired effect. You definitely get the impression that the FIA had no idea of the can of worms they were opening when they decided to introduce these hybrid systems (impressive as they are).

    1. I’m sure it’s purely for Ferrari’s benefit really… they (and the other 2 teams that use their engines) are so struggling with performance this year due to their engine antics last year, that the FIA are obviously trying to make it less embarrassing for them!

      I don’t think it will work, especially if other teams were using higher power modes in qualifying too…. There are a few outcomes for this change:

      1. It reduces Mercedes advantage in Q2/Q3 making the outcome slightly closer but the race pace stays unchanged and they still win.
      2. Other teams also unable to run a Quali mode have to turn up the engine mode and leave it there for Quali and the race resulting in unreliability during races and Mercedes still win!
      3. We find out that Mercedes haven’t been using a Quali mode and all that’s happened is Lewis and Vateri have been pushing their right foot down harder! :-) lol

    2. Anyone else remember when Liberty first took hold of F1 and promised to stop knee jerk rules changes, and to completely model and understand the impacts before any rules changes?
      So that lasted a long time then….

    3. I think they caught Ferrari and in doing so realised that the rest are probably also doing things that they shouldn’t.

  10. Horner out Sandbagging Wolff!!!!

  11. So Mercedes just default their engine to ‘party mode’ at all times and tell their drivers to lift and coast or upshift earlier during the race to reduce engine wear, but have full power available as and when required.

    Does anyone know if the ‘mode’ can be changed from race to race? Can the two drivers have different ones?

    1. Yes, can change from race to race, and as far as I can tell drivers/team cars can have different modes.

    2. Also running at “party mode” then just lifting and coasting will work short term, but the damage done when racing in this mode will not be undone by coasting and reliability will be impacted.

  12. I do believe hearing Brawn mentioning that one of the things they were looking at for the future if DRS was to be dropped was even more use of modes for the driver to play with, which did make sense as it would aid overtaking/defending and added more tactics to the battles.

  13. All this is irrelevant when 95% of a race is tyre managment which needs to stop. Some laps are 10secs plus slower than possible just to save tyres and get away with one stop.

    1. Just how will durable tyres produce better races?

  14. so they pick the highest mode they think they can safely run during the race and use it for quali and race…. easy.
    Selection of mode varys for each race/circuit…easy.
    Merc had the 3rd best engine last year, out dragged by Honda at Interlagos, outdragged most of the year by Ferrari…. engine is not the main problem, its not even the main problem for Ferrari as Spa confirmed. The Ferrari car is pants, and they just have no mega engine to compensate.
    However, F1s mega brains now spend time ad money to find out how to obey the rule by inventing intelligent modes that react to conditions…. ” we never changed mode during the race, this is how this mode works, honest guv”. This is a can of worms, was unnecessary and distances the cars from road cars where modes are available. Better to enforce harder compound choice and 2 compulsory tyre stops, or use all 3 compounds during the race …. it would bring a bit more flat out racing…. tyres is what the teams and drivers are always complaining about … so CHANGE THAT!

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