In the round-up: Formula 1 must avoid forcing teams into making costly and unnecessary changes to their power units when it introduces new engine regulations, says Daimler and Mercedes head Ola Kallenius.
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What they say
There’s no doubt in my mind that the trend needs to be towards more electrification. So the part of the power train that gets its energy from renewable resources is going to increase.
We think that will lower carbon or even synthetic fuels could play a role there going into the future. So I’m quite excited about that.
One thing that you need to be mindful about in power train development and Formula 1 is don’t do change for the sake of change because you just spend a lot of money. So we want to have a financially sustainable sport as well.
Which means I think we need to weigh up the options, go towards more electrification, more lower-carbon, but not change every single bolt or screw, which would only waste a lot of financial resources. So we shall find a balance there between the manufacturers.
Quotes: Dieter Rencken
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More motor racing links of interest:
Marko: Vettel struggles down to Hockenheim 'insecurity' (Autosport)
"With this crash, the uncertainty set in, and the driving was then very often not at a Vettel level."
Hamilton: The incredible F1 journey to seven titles and history (Sky)
Martin Brundle: "But Verstappen has never quite had the machinery. There's not really been a combo to challenge Lewis since 2016. Either in his own team or any other team, nobody's quite had all the stars aligned."
L’ultima Freccia: ecco come sarà la Mercedes per il Mondiale 2021 (La Gazzetta dello Sport)
Mercedes tested new rear bodywork in Abu Dhabi which appeared to be designed for application on its 2021 car, aimed at improving the performance of its diffuser.
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Comment of the day
This weekend’s debate looks at which team is best-placed to rival Mercedes during 2021:
I think it will be Red Bull, as Perez will be much better than Albon. Ferrari could also do well, as Leclerc had some great pace towards the end of the year and Sainz should be able to do a similar job, unlike Vettel.
As for McLaren – I think Ricciardo is a downgrade on Sainz, and won’t work as well with Norris. Plus with the other Red Bull less beatable, there’ll be fewer points on offer. Racing Point? Good car, very underwhelming drivers. Vettel is toast and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was out-performed by Stroll.
Also, very much looking forward to seeing what Alonso can do for Alpine, although I suspect 2022 will be when that partnership really comes to fruition.
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47 comments on “F1 must avoid “change for the sake of change” with new engine rules – Mercedes”
4th January 2021, 0:45
Am I missing something with the F1 magazine?
The editor’s linked Twitter account is hyping up issue 9 being released, at the same time as being questioned on cancellation rumours.
4th January 2021, 7:59
It is the Italian language version of that magazine which Dieter is asking about and which appears to have been cancelled after just four editions – the version which is being mentioned on the editor’s Twitter account is the 9th edition of the English language version.
4th January 2021, 1:09
It seems to please people in general picturing Hockenheim as the defining moment of Vettel’s downfall, like a Drive to Survive shot.
I, for one, don’t buy it. For starters, because he won categorically the very next race one-on-one against Hamilton. Secondly, because what happened at Sachs can hardly be called a mistake; it’s more like a misfortune, just it was for several drivers in the following year at T16 (Leclerc aside).
Now, in my opinion, 2 things played a far bigger role at his demise: the Italian GP and subsequent odd-development of the package despite his feedback. Those things clearly meant Ferrari hang him out to dry, which probably is the resulting process from Hockenheim to Monza chequered flag but, from Vettel’s side, his unconfident eagerness, i.e. erratic driving, surely came following Monza Q3.
On CotD, I think it’s harsh on Ricciardo, though I don’t board his hype train. Sainz is in a better moment but he has everything to prove whilst Ricciardo is already established.
As for Alpine, I don’t know. I expected big from Renault and now I’m way too skeptical.
4th January 2021, 6:01
@niefer Absolutely agree, it’s just too convenient to pick only Hockenheim 2018. Leaving the track under those conditions was something he might have and did escape dozens of times only throughout that particular race, but as this one was way too spectacular and cost him dearly, it was labelled as a huge mistake and the start of the decline. I don’t think so either, it couldn’t have been only one particular moment or race, I believe it had a quite long buildup to it.
For me Vettel’s 2015 season was his best ever campaign, I would rank his performance even higher than any of his title years, as this time he didn’t have a superior Red Bull at his disposal, but still took the fight to the Mercedes pair. I suspect the cracks began to show in 2016 when Ferrari failed to deliver an obvious frontrunner car, they often sunk into the midfield, and an aging Räikkönen started to challenge him when he wasn’t supposed or expected to do, and the team sometimes had to intervene in favour of Vettel, who himself I believe, started to lose confidence during this season. One can argue that he bounced back, kickstarting his 2017 and 2018 campaign, but in fact, along with some other standout performances, those races were the outliers among the more and more uninspired and mediocre performances on the German’s side, meanwhile misjudgements by Ferrari didn’t help his case either. And when in 2019 young gun Leclerc reminded Vettel of his 2014 season alongside then-young gun Ricciardo, that was the experince both Vettel and Ferrari must have considered as a conclusion of their partnership.
Don’t get me wrong, even if I might sound a bit harsh on Vettel, I think he deserves more credit and respect than he actually gets. He is not the first champion that struggles at a certain team and their partnership ends without the success they both hoped for. F1 needs a calm and collected Vettel, and 2021 season might turn out for him as a reflorescence due to the similar cicrcumstances that affected his 2015 season for the better.
4th January 2021, 7:47
Best analysis of Vettel on the internet.
Fer no.65 (@fer-no65)
4th January 2021, 9:24
I find it funny, in a way, that Vettel, a 4 time world champion, is called “toast” when we know how other drivers changed teams and revived their careers. I mean, look at Kimi… he’s everyone’s favourite, but 2008 was walk in the park for Massa in their battle together. Then he left, but returned at Lotus, and everyone was saying the new environment helped him massively. Why can’t it be the same for Seb? a driver of his calibre is dangerous everywhere, he just needs to get it together… and Ferrari is certainly not the place to “get things together”…
John H (@john-h)
4th January 2021, 10:05
I think it’s the gap to Leclerc that is concerning. With Kimi and Massa they were pretty close.
4th January 2021, 11:00
In 2007 maybe, in 2008 and 2009 (pre Hungary) Massa was clearly in the ascendancy.
John H (@john-h)
4th January 2021, 12:30
I dunno @geemac, 2008 was closer in the early parts of the season before it became clear around Singapore who Ferrari would back. The final tally was 97 Vs 75 (old points), compared with 98 v 33 Leclerc Vettel. It’s a massive difference!!
4th January 2021, 12:51
I feel there is no need to over analyse. Vettel has never been a complete racing driver. He is fast on an empty track (maybe even the best), but really can’t race on WDC level with others around wheel to wheel. He has the lowest ‘wins, not starting from pole’ score in history. He just had the best machine for some years, put in on pole, drove away and lucked into his titles. As soon as he didnt have Webber as a team mate it all went south. Happy for him he had a fortunate streak, there is no personal disliking here, just my opinion after having looked at F1 drivers since 1980.
4th January 2021, 17:30
@andrewt agree re Seb. When his head goes down his driving goes off a cliff. 2014 he couldn’t accept the reliability problems and lost the plot then drove really well in 2015. I suspect the “Seb Spin” unnerved him somewhat and he became wary of the car. His head was clearly down again in 2020 as he struggled to explain his lack of performance. 2021 should be a much better year for him. That Aston Martin with the 2020 Mercedes rear suspension should suit him better. I wouldn’t put him on the same level as Max or Lewis who can drive anything but he’s too good a driver to write off.
4th January 2021, 18:04
By all means, @andrewt, you made a fair assessment!
I’d only diverge about 2017 because I always got impressed by him taking the fight to a superior car, package and operation to WDC level until R&D failed him. He still pulled unexpected wins, splitted the Mercs on the grid more often than not and did good comeback drives from misfortune, which he had his more than fair share back then.
But, what you said about 2015, that’s pretty much it, probably if we take into account that the difference was even bigger and, of course, the Rosberg factor.
You are also on point about the cracks starting to show already in 2016. After all, in the very first race, the pitwall binned a certain victory by not changing his tyres under the red flag when everyone else did. No wonder he started to show hissy fits as in Mexico later on and Baku the following year. Pressure built up quickly.
4th January 2021, 8:09
@niefer as noted by others, as so many have a tendency to want to ascribe a change in events to a single defining moment and the crash in Hockenheim came during a particularly dramatic race, it’s why so many seem to assume that was the pivotal moment.
I’d agree that, whilst it probably did have some effect in causing the team to lose some confidence in Vettel and some loss of personal belief in Vettel, it was part of a series of events that caused a downturn in performance.
Steven Van Langendonck
5th January 2021, 8:04
I must say that I don’t understand the comment about Ricciardo. Wasn’t he the one that kept Verstappen honest?
As for Vettel: I always felt that Peter Windsor just might be right about him. He said that Vettel really needs a very stable back end of the car to feel confident and that the recent Ferrari chassis have not given him that.
4th January 2021, 1:31
I pretty much have the opposite view to COTD. I suspect Perez won’t do much better than Albon, but gap in race will probably be a bit better. Leclerc will still beat Sainz, maybe just with less margin than Vettel. Vettel will out-perform Stroll over a season. Ricciardo will beat Norris, with a larger margin than Sainz. Alpine may get a few podiums in 2022 but still won’t quite be championship contenders.
4th January 2021, 3:28
yup pretty likely.
4th January 2021, 4:46
I think it’s hard to say if Perez has outright better pace than Albon in comparable cars they both felt confident in but I do think he’s a more adaptable driver, will provide better feedback, and is very unlikely to suffer the crisis of confidence both Albon and Gasly felt at Red Bull.
Stroll, I felt, was having a very strong season and clearly improving his performances, but a combination of some terrible luck and his COVID diagnosis scuppered that and he didn’t bounce back well. I think if he can recapture that early 2020 form, though, he may perform very well indeed. Can’t say I’m filled with confidence, but I hope for his sake he does.
I can’t understand rating Sainz higher than Ricciardo, though. Sainz has been a dependable hand, pretty quick, good at taking opportunities and minimising bad weekends. I think Ricciardo has been just a level up on him in all those aspects for years now (barring a few misadventures early in the Renault move), and I don’t think that’s going to change next year. I hope Norris can go up another level next year, but suspect he’ll need to start strongly in a car he knows well to beat Ricciardo over the course of a season.
I am interested to see how Alpine/Renault go next year. Definitely improved over the course of the year, and I think continuity will be beneficial to them. I think the Renault PU has been underrated in 2020 as well, and I’m unconvinced that McLaren will gain much from switching to Mercedes, especially given the difficulty of adapting to different packaging in a platform not designed for it.
As always, lots to look forwards to in the year to come, not least of which is the very large number of things I will get wrong in my predictions.
4th January 2021, 8:03
Main concern for Perez will be the RedBull. Nowadays we need to take into account Driver-car characteristics to evaluate if the combo is fast or not, and that car has been developed around Verstappen which is working the car pretty hard. Perez reputation to make his rubber last is undisputed but might actually play against him if the car requires a harsh beating to make it work and last.
Such “details” could lead to big performance gaps if one driver hits the sweet spot while the other isn’t…
4th January 2021, 16:17
@bookgrub I can go along with much of what you have said.
@jeanrien True, but Max too has had his races where he was able to make his tires last much longer through a stint.
In general it remains a shame that so much, for all the drivers, depends on their cars’ treatment of the tires and how well they can get them into their working temp and keep them there.
4th January 2021, 4:53
4th January 2021, 7:44
@attakorn @bookgrub @peartree @Adrian
Pretty much the same. I also rate Ricciardo higher than Sainz, although the switch to Mercedes PU might impact car performance a bit, at least early into the season.
Alpine and Aston Martin are somewhat harder to judge at this point. I expect the same outright speed from the latter, but the driver pairing could be a disadvantage versus Mclaren. The same also applies to Alpine in comparison to Mclaren.
As for Red Bull: I think Perez will do better than Albon last season or Gasly in the first twelve rounds of 2019 in that he’d finish consistently in the top four and be a better help for the team in strategic options against Mercedes.
Phil Norman (@phil-f1-21)
4th January 2021, 10:17
I agree with this analysis @jerejj
4th January 2021, 8:51
Feel the exact same way
Pinak Ghosh (@pinakghosh)
4th January 2021, 5:01
Marko is oversimplifying
Brundle is on point
4th January 2021, 5:55
Go back to 2014 and Vettel was basically destroyed from the first race by Ricciardo.
The car looked planted for Ricciardo, he pulled off some aggressive passing. In Vettel’s hands it looked a handful.
Vettel has been inconsistent throughout his career. He was outdriven the first half of 2012 by Webber. 2011 he was completely dominant. More dominant than Hamilton has ever looked at Mercedes.
In 2010 made mistakes, but also had bad mechanical reliability. But at the same time Hamilton made a lot of blunders. Hamilton had a car good enough for the championship without those errors. Crashed Monza, crashed Singapore, then crashed Japan practice necessitating a gearbox change and penalty.
People point to Germany 2018, but didn’t Hamilton crash and spin twice Germany 2019?
Despite what people say, Merc had a much better car than Ferrari in 2018. It’s just that people look at the results in the first half without context and say Ferrari had a better car. Vettel only found himself in the lead in 2018 because of Merc and Hamilton errors and poor performances in the first half of the year. Vettel had the pressure of making every race winning opportunity count. Hamilton spinning twice in Germany a year later didn’t matter because his car was favourite in most races in 2019.
It’s quite bizarre how Vettel has been hounded for his mistakes yet no-one remembers other drivers for their mistakes (Hamilton 2010, Hamilton 9/21 races he massively underperformed in during 2016)
4th January 2021, 16:33
Dean F I will always be kind to SV over his 2014 season. To me, one only has to ask oneself, did SV suddenly forget how to win from 2013 to 2014? No. That’s just not even realistic. You talk about SV inconsistency but let’s not forget that SV’s 2014 car resembled the car he had just won 4 WDCs in a row in, in no way whatsoever. I defy any driver to have his Championship car of 4 years running, that fits him like a glove, be taken away and replaced with something unrecognizable and much less competitive, and it not affect him greatly. Said driver has the pressure to struggle to defend his titles with a car that is no longer in that class, and with a weak pu.
No, SV didn’t suddenly forget how to win in 2014. They just gave him a car that was night and day different and sent SV back to the drawing board. Meanwhile DR had been promoted to RBR and found himself in the best car he’d ever been in, would have been stoked about that and the opportunity, and would not have known from Adam what the previous Championship cars felt like. It was onward and upward for DR in 2014, while SV had likely felt like he’d been punched in the gut the first time he drove that unrecognizable car.
Up to him to adapt then? Sure, but I would say much more easily said than done. But then SV himself admits he struggled to adapt, and seems to blame himself as much as anything for DR besting him in 2014. But I don’t.
4th January 2021, 17:37
@robbie agree. Webber has said that once Seb learned how to use the blown diffuser he was untouchable and Renault had the best system for that of any engine supplier. Then suddenly it’s gone. It’s a big change to get used to when it’s basically how he maintained his advantage. Seb is one of the best drivers out there when the car suits him, just not as adaptable as the very best.
Pironi the Provocateur (@pironitheprovocateur)
4th January 2021, 7:01
Oh, how surprising to read Mercedes’ “suggestion.” Not only did they completely block any engine change for 2021, now they’d like to block any opposition which would be interesting in entering/staying in the sport. With Honda exiting and Renault supplying only one team, this really feels like they aim at supplying most of the grid. Now that would be the ultimate show of dominance.
No, seriously. The engines need to be simplified.
4th January 2021, 7:35
the PUs need to be simplified to allow new manufacturers to enter the sport without the worry of bankruptcy and with the genuine chance of achieving some victory’s.
4th January 2021, 7:35
2021 might be RBR’s last opportunity to run a car that can potentially compete for championships (we all know Merc is going to win and have 15 front row lockouts).
They’ll be relegated to McLaren or Racing Point status after 2021.
MEGATRON M12 (@megatron)
4th January 2021, 15:08
It is impossible to simplify engines, F1 is a complicated sport. Even if they went back to the anemic 2.4L v8, some manufacturers still couldn’t cope, specifically Honda and Cosworth. How many championships or even races did ford win after 1995? There were “simple” engine rules and still only the major manufacturers won. The world does not stop and wait for the simple minded, and neither should F1 regulations. The engines are outstanding now, the most powerful and efficient race day powerplants in F1 history. F1 needs to move forward not backwards.
5th January 2021, 13:59
4th January 2021, 7:05
I loved the new feature. Controversy Of The Day is a great addition.
4th January 2021, 7:16
4th January 2021, 8:35
It’s fitting for the Social Media part though.
What’s next? A Fund-me page for Italian journos and families of Marlboro victims?
4th January 2021, 7:28
I think Kallenius is right in not wanting Liberty to make needlessly expensive changes to the power unit. Obviously Merc have an advantage currently with that tech. But change for the sake of change which Liberty and the FIA have already done a couple of times does no favours for anyone.
I would prefer they go down the alt fuel path myself as it would be relatively inexpensive, can be directly connected and is transferable to road vehicles and is good PR.
4th January 2021, 9:25
I was never really a fan of 2016. Sure, Hamilton was challenged, by a teammate who employed appalling you shall not pass tactics, by mechanical failures and by his own attitude which see-sawed between absolutely trouncing his teammate and barely turning up for races. One reason Hamilton hasn’t faced tough competition since 2016 is that he got his own act together following that humiliation and now squeezes every last point available out of every race.
Rosberg won one title in the least prestigious way possible, then scarpered before Hamilton could deliver a 2017 payback. Hardly impressive. Bottas has had to deal with a much more formidable version of Hamilton than Rosberg ever faced.
4th January 2021, 10:34
Regarding the COTD, I find it hard to see how Ricciardo can be considered by anyone as a downgrade from Sainz. Obviously, stranger things have happened in F1 but I don’t see him performing worse than Sainz. Let’s wait and see.
4th January 2021, 11:39
I didn’t understand it either.
Both Ricciardo and Sainz raced against Max and Hulkenberg. I thought Sainz fared pretty well against Verstappen, as did Ricciardo. But when comparing them to Hulkenberg, Ricciardo outperformed the Hulk and Sainz was quite a but behind Nico IIRC.
Ricciardo is an established race winner and a proven talent.. Sainz still has a few question marks around him. Norris was as impressive as Carlos for these past two seasons, so I can’t say with conviction that Sainz is really at Ricciardo’s level yet.
4th January 2021, 11:07
Ola Kallenius is right, it shoud change for the sake of evolution and to prepare technology for road cars. But how? Certainly not arquitechture, PUs haven’t developed almost anything since these were introduced. The last combustion engine that I remember sparking some interest was the new skyactive-x from Mazada (the petrol one that works as a diesel one)
so it has to be evolution. Energy, either storage (batteries and possibility to develop them, which does not happen), or fuels (sinthetic). My genuine question is. If the regulations mandate a minimum weight and power for the batteries (which is likely), and the novelty of the solution is asociated with fuel, how is that interesting for an engine manufacturer? Just preparation of cylinders to work with said fuels?
Ola Kallenius and Daimler want evolution, but besides “more eletrification” they never told us exactly what, probably because they don’t know either
Tony Mansell (@tonymansell)
4th January 2021, 11:10
Where outside of the rich West is going to run electric vehicles in anything like the numbers that is going to have a positive global impact? They are ridiculously expensive and impractical and theres no network of chargers anywhere near enough for them to be mainstream, even in the West. The only reason the car manufacturers are switching to electric is the fines they will receive if they dont ( in the billions). And somehow the govts whim is F1s problem to find a solution. So we watch heavy and horrible sounding ‘technical marvels’ because people drive their cars round towns too much. Just so much nonsense. Peddled by manufacturers and to a degree lapped up by us.
Synthetic fuels seem to be a better solution as they can work on existing ICE and can be stored and distributed the same way as petrol but even so, why are talking about it? Whats it to do with F1 ? ? Its like the Premier League being asked to sort out alcoholism and gambling addiction. Its not f1s problem the world burns too much carbon but it seems f1 has to pay a price for that
4th January 2021, 14:56
Agree. F1 is an escapism a sport to watch for pleasure. Kids and most F1 fand love loud engines. The answer is 3 litre v12’s with a strict limit on materials that can be used. This would also get rid of most manufacturers but plenty of smaller race engine builders can build V12’s like Gibson for example.
4th January 2021, 16:46
@tonymansell I don’t disagree with much of what you are saying, but just wanted to point out that I believe when they are talking about more electrification that does not mean pure electric. It means hybrid. Just wanted to mention that because it sounded to me like you are relating full electric domestic cars to F1, therefore sounding like you’re thinking they want or expect to go full electric too, but I don’t believe that is the case nor will be for years, if ever. As you point out full electric is just too impractical, but hybrid can be extremely practical and efficient as we have seen, and I think a hybrid pu where the ICE is run on synthetic fuel would be awesome.
Tony Mansell (@tonymansell)
5th January 2021, 11:33
Yes Robbie I think full electrification might be the end of f1 for me. I get they mean hybrid, what I dont get is when I see a hybrid supercar it still sounds amazing but these wheezy land yachts sound awful and they’re just too big and cumbersome as a result. I think the 2006 Renault demo’d by Alonso was a deliberate tactic to remind us of what they once were. Its strange, most fans, all drivers and most teams want a return to this but we have 2/3 SUV and saloon car makers dictating what we ACTUALLY have in the sport. F1 should be more green for sure, it could hardly be less but its like asking a drug dealer to use recyclable bags. Its not the problem. The problem is carting 10000s of tonnes of stuff round the planet, not the 2 hours on the track
6th January 2021, 23:47
Any actual argument why F1, or any other entity for that matter should be excused from responsibility?
4th January 2021, 13:00
Electric part of the powertrain should go unlimited.
Teams should be able to deploy all the power rhey can harness out of their engines.
Even if that means 800 petrol and 900 electric horse powers.
Petrol part should be equalized with Ballance of performance. Minimum mass, maximum power, maximum fuel flow should be set.
And then let the teams go at it.
Tony Mansell (@tonymansell)
5th January 2021, 11:37
Thats not a formula thats just drag racing. Its more prescribed now but its never been carte blanche. Your route would kill the sport in a heartbeat
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