McLaren has acknowledged that the FIA will closely monitor its engine switch from Renault to Mercedes in 2021 in order to ensure no competitive advantage is gained in unrelated areas.
The Formula 1 teams have agreed to delay the introduction of new technical regulations until 2022 due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result will freeze the majority of the current car for both 2020 and 2021. McLaren is the only team changing power unit suppliers in that time and will go ahead with its switch, but team principal Andreas Seidl admits the FIA will be making sure only necessary changes to the car are carried out.
“It is a change of plan for us because we planned to integrate the Mercedes power unit into the new car with the 2021 regulations,” Seidl said. “For sure there will be restrictions in terms of how good we can integrate this power unit into the current car.
“We have agreed together with the FIA that they will monitor together very closely that we are only allowed to do the changes that are absolutely necessary to install the Mercedes power unit. So they will monitor closely that we don’t change any other areas in the surroundings of the power unit that will give us additional performance gains.
“We fully understand and agreed to that as in the end we need to look at the bigger picture, which is to agree and support the freezing that is happening at the moment because it ensures maximum cost savings for everyone.
“I don’t think (the switch to Mercedes) can be done in the most efficient way because there are some restrictions, but at the same time we have contracts in place and so for us there was no reason not to continue with that plan.”
Seidl does not believe there will be any contractual issues should a 2020 championship run into January of next year, as he is confident that the Renault relationship can simply be extended as required to cover the coming season.
All of the teams, the FIA and Formula 1 are meeting on Thursday to discuss the details of the 2021 regulations in terms of what will be frozen and what can still be developed, as well as trying to find an agreement on a lower budget cap that will still be introduced next year. The current agreed level is $175 million but teams are believed to have all agreed to reduce that to at least $150m, and Seidl believes another big step should be made.
“I think $100m is a good number to run a Formula 1 team in the way we want to see Formula 1. It is important that Formula 1 still has the fastest car on the planet, which we have, and it is still important that Formula 1 is still seen as the leading edge in terms of technology, but I am convinced this is possible with a budget cap of $100m.”