Christian Horner is adamant that Mercedes should back plans for an engine unfreeze for the good of the sport.
Mercedes was not able to block the proposal at the F1 Strategy Group meeting, but it can do so at the upcoming F1 Commission meeting, where unanimity is required for 2015 rule changes.
The rules already allow for quite substantial engine updates over the winter, but Merc’s rivals want to be allowed to make at least one development step during next season.
“I think for F1 it’s important,” said Horner. “We saw today Nico’s performance – the true performance is that they can drive through the field, and I think it’s too out of kilter, five Mercedes-powered cars in the top five. The immaturity of this technology is still quite raw, and I think Mercedes shouldn’t be afraid of competition. They are doing a super job but I think it’s healthy for F1 that Ferrari, Honda, Renault should have that ability to close that gap, otherwise we’re going to end up in a very stagnant position.
“I think it’s a bigger issue than just about the teams. It’s about what’s right for the sport, what’s right for the fans. It’s easy to take a self-interest position, but when you look at what is the right thing for F1, I think it’s to have competition. The rules are the rules, which they are at the moment, but I think we need to be big enough to say let’s open a little bit, be responsible on costs so there is no impact for the customer teams, but have that position.”
Horner said that the winter window was not enough: “You’ve got until February to do that, and then you’re locked down again. So it’s a very, very small window in order to achieve that. There was an agreement in Singapore, everybody voted unanimously to have one further step in the season, but that seems to have been reneged on.”
He acknowledged that given extra development options Mercedes could still do a better job.
“Quite possibly, but at least you’ve got the ability to try and improve, because at the moment you’re frozen with what you’ve got. You’re running with your hands tied behind your back. If it’s competition like it is on the chassis side, if you start off on the back foot you can develop your way out of that. I think that on the engine side it’s important that while the technology is still quite immature that responsibly – not just open carte blanche development – you should be able to have a couple of increments during the season.”