Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff insists his team will be helped by a planned ban on qualifying engine modes, even though it looks set to be delayed until the Italian Grand Prix.
The FIA is clamping down on the use of specific engine modes in qualifying, when power unit manufacturers are often able to run at a much higher power output than they can replicate in the race. The ban was originally set to come into effect at the Belgian Grand Prix but RACER understands it now looks like it will be delayed by a race to Monza. Whenever it comes, however, Wolff believes it will prove a good thing for his team despite its current dominance on Saturdays.
“I think we don’t lack performance on Saturdays,” Wolff said. “We had quite a margin until now. We struggled in some of the races where we were quite limited in powerful engine modes, and if Formula 1 were to ban in-season, certain power unit modes, then I think it will actually help us in the race.
“If you can avoid damaging your power unit in those few qualifying laps that you have available, in Q3 and then the odd lap in the race, the damage metrics go down dramatically. So, five laps of qualifying mode not being done gives us 25 laps of more performance in the race.
“You must take into account even if it may hurt us more in qualifying — which I’m not sure, and it’s a couple of tenths — then it will hurt all the others in the same way. But we are always very marginal on what we can extract from the power unit, and if we were to be limited in qualifying modes, then, well, we will be stronger in the race.”
The ban is still due to come in during the next set of tripleheader races in Spa, Monza and Mugello, and Wolff admits his team is in need of this coming weekend off after six races in seven weeks.
“I think for the drivers, it’s probably a little bit easier, because they can recover between the races. Having said that, it’s not easy for anybody. But for the racing team, it’s particularly difficult, because you can’t go home — you need to stay out, you’re not seeing your family for more than three weeks, and that has happened two times in a row now.
“For once, the senior management and the engineers that were able to commute back home (at Silverstone) — there wasn’t a single day where they didn’t work. I can tell you Monday morning, we were all in the office, and that three race weekends in a row, it takes its toll. I feel it in myself that you start to struggle.”