Lewis Hamilton says it is clear any Formula 1 rule change relating to the use of power unit modes is aimed at slowing down Mercedes but warns it won’t achieve that target.
The FIA has informed teams it is looking into a regulation change that would force teams have to change the way they use power unit modes, specifically peak modes in qualifying. Mercedes in particular makes a clear step forward when running certain modes in Q2 and Q3, but rarely is able to utilize the modes in race trim. Hamilton says it is not a shock that a rule change that appears to be targeted at his team is being discussed, given Mercedes’ significant championship lead.
“I mean it’s not a surprise — they’re always trying to slow us down,” Hamilton said. “But it doesn’t really change a huge amount for us, so it’s not a problem.
“At the end of the day, the guys at our team have just done such a great job with the engine. It’s obviously to slow us down but I don’t think it’s going to get the result that they want. But that’s totally fine if they do.”
Hamilton also insists Mercedes does not have more to lose than any other manufacturers, and teammate Valtteri Bottas also suggests there are knock-on effects that could make it harder for rivals to challenge in races.
“It’s impossible to know what the other manufacturers can actually gain when they go out in qualifying and if we’re actually gaining more or not,” Bottas said. “We are not panicking about it and if that change in the regulations come, then it’s the same for everyone.
“Only this morning I heard of the possibility of that happening and the first thing that came to my mind was that, in the races, everyone has different modes, so how much will they want to risk in terms of engine life? Like us, they can save the engine at some stages but also, in terms of strategic decisions in the race, many times you run different modes depending on if you are defending, attacking and so on.
“From my side, if it’s going to be the same engine mode for everyone all through the race there will be less overtaking, because everyone will be running the same modes instead of playing with them and trying to maximize every situation. Sometimes you use more power, sometimes less, but, in the end there will be fewer things for us drivers to do. Obviously, it’s not up to us if the change comes…”