No surprise as Bernie backs Red Bull’s push to rein in Mercedes

Not surprisingly Bernie Ecclestone has backed Christian Horner and Helmut Marko’s suggestion that the FIA should attempt top level the playing field in the light of the Mercedes domination in Australia.

Ecclestone and Horner remain close, and their opinions rarely diverge.

“They are absolutely 100 percent right,” Ecclestone told Reuters. “There is a rule that I think Max [Mosley] put in when he was there that in the event that a particular team or engine supplier did something magic – which Mercedes have done – the FIA can level up things.

“They have done a first class job which everybody acknowledges. We need to change things a little bit now and try and level things up a little bit.

“What we should have done was frozen the Mercedes engine and leave everybody else to do what they want so they could have caught up. We should support the FIA to make changes.”

It’s not clear what rule Ecclestone is referring to. However it may be Article 2.5 of the Tehcnical Regulations:

“New systems or technologies : Any new system, procedure or technology not specifically covered by these regulations, but which is deemed permissible by the FIA Formula One Technical Department, will only be admitted until the end of the Championship during which it is introduced. Following this the Formula One Commission will be asked to review the technology concerned and, if they feel it adds no value to Formula One in general, it will be specifically prohibited. Any team whose technology is prohibited in this way will then be required to publish full technical details of the relevant system or procedure.”

If it is what Bernie is referring to it might be stretch to find a way to apply it – the FIA view is that there are no ‘new technologies’ in the W06 package – and in any case it clearly states it allows teams to keep their advantage for the season.


Filed under F1, F1 News, Grand Prix News

28 responses to “No surprise as Bernie backs Red Bull’s push to rein in Mercedes

  1. Scott

    Ferrari’s (and Sauber’s) improvement shows that at least on the PU side that the current rules allow teams to catch up if they go a good job. Mercedes clearly has the best chassis as well, its not just the PU giving them the advantage. If F1 penalizes Mercedes for doing everything a bit better than the rest, then the sport is no longer a sport.

    • proesterchen

      Lets see how far ahead the Mercs are on circuits that don’t have them turn down the engine to make it to the distance on the mandated 100kg of fuel.

      Yes, Ferrari seem to have done a decent enough job and developed their PU at least as well as Mercedes, but the ‘old’ FIA would’ve had the Mercs kneecapped á la Ferrari 2004 to return the sport to some semblance of competition.

      • flxsource

        Kneecapped how? What rule would you change/introduce? You can’t lay this at the door of just the power unit – the entire package is better than th rest of the field.

      • proesterchen

        @flxsource The FIA could’ve reduced the fuel cap by 5 or 8 or maybe 10% “for the environment”, which would’ve cut a good chunk out of the Merc’s top end advantage while promoting the efficiency message and keeping Mercedes happy as they’d still be winning most of the races.

        As it stands, they tried to fix it by opening up the development window, and that clearly wasn’t enough to level the field. Time for more drastic measures.

      • flxsource

        @proesterchen I think reducing the fuel cap would have the opposite effect – the Mercedes engine is by far the most fuel efficient. Reducing the fuel limit would hamper the other engine manufacturers more.

        As for more drastic measures, surely there’s a point where you have to admit that the other engine suppliers just are’t doing a good enough job? Why should they get any more help?

      • proesterchen

        @flxsource This isn’t about admitting or not admitting someone better job, clearly Mercedes came up with a brilliant solution to the challenges posed by this new hybrid formula!

        My point was that in the past, when one team dominated F1 in this way, they were reigned in by FIA in the interest of the sport. It happened to Williams when they aced active suspensions, to Ferrari when they ran away with it in 2004, to Renault with the J dampers, to Brawn & Co with the double-diffs, McLaren with the F-duct, and most recently RBR with numerous engine/exhaust exploits.

        In every one of these cases, teams were allowed to benefit from their ingenuity for a season or two, but had to give it up for the greater good of the sport.

        Now Mercedes is dominant for the second year running and the regulations at least make it hard, if not impossible, for the other three competitors to catch up. If everything stays the same, Mercedes might run away with it through 2020! (all 7 years of the current regs & commercial contracts)

        Personally, I’d like to see the development freeze suspended to enable all four engine manufacturers to compete for the best PU. But that’s costly and could still lead to Renault just not getting anywhere regardless of effort.

    • Giorgio Rapetti

      I hated the Red Bull era of domination but you have to remember this has already occured. When Red Bull were dominating the FIA introduced so many changes to level the playing field for e.g they removed double diffuser’s, blown exhaust gasses, changed engine maps midway through a season and introduced flex tests. F1 has never been primarily a sport, its a business.

  2. Amen to dat.

    The FIA did it with the massa dumper in 2006 per Renault. Per 2015, it’s per a good idea per Mercedes.

    Per PU, it’s not a practical solution 4 the sport, hybrids must go. Per.

    • Roland Menninger

      Yes, the FIA did this in the past – whether it was changing points systems, introducing different tires etc. to slow Ferrari, or mass damper, exhaust blowing etc.

      The difference is that in today’s formula a determined team cannot realistically expect to catch up on the engine. Can’t test, can’t really get a new engine manufacturer, limited tokens etc. If this is a real sport, let Ferrari or Renault build a brand new engine. Why is innovation limited to pre-2014? And for all the Ferrari, Renault, Redbull dominance over the last 20 years, I cannot remember any team with the kind of advantage MB have.

      Frankly, LeMans is where the engine innovation is happening. Let manufacturers come up with new ideas, whether in non-hybrid, diesel-hybrid, petrol-hybrid, turbo or not, or other configs. Why would Toyota, Porsche, Nissan, Audi leave WEC for F1 when they are already building road-relevant technologies?

      Unfortunately, F1 in 2015 is neither exciting racing, nor the technical pinnacle..

      • Nissan – remains 2B seen if they can make their PR-friendly batmobile work. Looks like a petrol version of Zeod or whatever -odd they raced 4 one lap last year @ LM24.

        Road relevance? Dacia + natural gas, 15,000€, that is road relevant & it’s not racing anywhere. Toyota or Audi hybrid road cars are only for Hollywood stars, an ordinary person can’t afford these expensive toys. I’d rather invest muny in real estate than “saving the planet”.

        It’s light entertainment, F1 or WEC, with a slight touch of engineering.

        WEC is basically ruled by a bunch of crazy French dudes acting weird & having a massive illusion, oh we’re so exquisite, Mon Dieu. When I’m at a race track I don’t care how much fuel the cars use, I wanna be entertained. Having said zat, Toyota hybrid WEC car looks & sounds gr8, LOL, OMG. If chaps from Tokyo need to call it “hybrid”, so be it. It’s a PR trick but people wanna believe in it.

        The main issue is that F1 cars are plug & play technology, computers are controlling everything. Drivers are athletes, make their lives harder, put actual driving back in F1. But it’ll require pure racing cars, a bit like NASCAR. Basic stuff. It’ll look good for the spectators because you don’t really see the difference from the grandstands, just a tiny “hybrid” sticker tells you it’s something different.

        It’s all in the mind.

  3. What a fantastic idea Bernie. That would reign in Mercedes. And Williams, Lotus and Force India. Oh, not quite so fair now…

    We really need to find a way to get rid of this fossil now.

  4. Stone the crows

    When all else fails, turn to politics. And these pillocks wonder why F-1 viewership is going down. this continual meddling turns the whole show into a contrived joke. Maybe its time to drive the nails in the coffin of this series and just hand the whole concept to DreamWorks or Industrial light and magic to create computer generated cars, and actors in place of drivers, at least then a fictional TV show would be expected to stick to a script-Bernie and the FiA cannot even do that.

    • ronmon

      Viewership is down because the results of every race and the championship was determined before the first race started.

      • **Paul**

        Beat me to it. That’s the reason, not because of politics. If the top cars were within 0.5s of each other everyone would be very happy. They’re not. No one is within 0.5s of Mercedes, or a 1s for that matter. Renault/Ferrari have failed to deliver. 2014 & 2015? Open goals for Mercedes. The fact Rosberg was/is within a shout of the title says as much.

    • petes

      Stoneman, the nails will be driven into the coffin when Merc development is frozen and the board say right, we’re out of here. That’ll be 8 cars gone and a series collapse. Bernie will be the winner tho, along with Red Bull who’re the chassis builder, when he gets the GP1 that he wants. Stinks.

  5. DW

    The biggest problem with these rules is that the 3 engine manufacturers, and the core teams that make up the rules via the working group, were all delusional enough to believe they would all create equally performing PSU’s and cars initially … or more likely they all thought they would do a better job that the next team & would want that advantage locked in.

    The history of motorsport & F1 especially has shown that whenever there are major rules changes, one or two teams gets them right initially and there are big gaps … but as long as those rules remain stable the others catch up pretty quickly.

    That was before these ‘knowledgeable” engineers (and rule makers) added the ‘development freeze’ aspect, and before they considered how little testing is allowed now vs the last time there was a major rule change.

    Without the freeze and testing restrictions, there is no doubt that Ferrari & Red Bull would have been on Mercedes pace before the end of 2014.

    • GeorgeK

      Well that explains 2014. Ferrari made gains for this year, but apparently Renault didn’t.

      I can understand (somewhat) how Honda can be adrift of success at this point, but Renault don’t have a leg to stand on. It is their 2nd season, same as MB and Ferrari. As Horner put it Red Bull are worse off than the last race of last year.

      • DW

        That’s a very simplistic way of looking at it.

        Without the ability to physically test or develop in 2014 & early 2015, Renault would have had nothing but theories on how to fix the problem. With the massive jump forward F1 has made with these engines, you can bet that there were a number conflicting ideas on how best to solve the problems, and some of those would have been poles apart.
        With the limited time available to them, they would have had to pick one or two … also a risk.
        If they chose wrong, again it’s too late. A whole year / season gone, because there isn’t enough time between the various tests and the start of the season to go another way.

        Look at it this way.
        The US had developed nuclear weapons more than 75 years ago … but in the period of time since, only a handful of other nations have developed the same capability due to resources, knowledge, etc.
        2 years for an F1 team to catch up in an arms race, without the ability to test and make changes more than once a year … no wonder we are in this situation.

      • proesterchen

        @DW Renault could’ve worked on their PUs full-throttle since Feb 2014, when it became apparent just how far behind they were. None of the rules prevent them from putting in the necessary hours and sorting out their package in preparation for the season.

        The only limit is the number of tokens that you can apply generation over generation, but Renault had over a year to figure out on the dyno how to best apply the available tokens to their PU.

        With RBR clearly incensed by the lack of correlation between what they’ve been told by Renault about their progress on the dyno and the reality they faced on Melbourne, one might conclude that Renault was either trying to deceive their only partner in F1, or has serious issues in their R&D department. Neither of which bode well for their future competitiveness.

      • petes

        @proesterchen: you summed that up pretty well.
        Seems the Regie squad need to talk to Marchione and get some hints on how to clean shop.

    • Uncle

      Exactly. The problem is not Mercedes’ engine dominance. The problem is that Ferrari, Honda, & Renault can’t do anything to close the gap – by rule.

  6. John Other

    It’s all lost any point as I can tell once there’s clamouring for teams to be crippled whilst others simply can’t run. This retrospective rule on new technology just says the whole thing is anti technology anti innovation and basically determined post fact regardless. I can’t see any sense in this. That rule is catch all. It just seems too brazen to me to publicly drum for enforcement that hurts anyone for being too good. Nobody much hears this among the masses or through mainstream media but that seems to be a Chinese wall that if broken would lead to widespread disbelief at what’s going on. It looks to be a dangerous game to play games that appear to admit the racing can be rigged assuming nobody in the wider press will either catch on or dare to simply report these increasingly ugly arguments.

  7. Don Davis

    Bernie: Maybe if Dieter and friends spent a little more on research/development, and a little less on party barges they might be a little closer to the Merc duo. Mercedes decided when they came in that 2013 was going to be “wasted” as they developed the new package. No one else took it seriously. They are paying for the delusion now…. Just my two cents.

  8. GeorgeK

    @ DW: I agree with your point that more testing would have been desirable with an entirely new power train unit that is on the surface absurdly complex.

    But sometimes reducing results in a simplistic manner is necessary; To wit, Ferrari improved, Renault went backwards under identical timing and restraints.

    • DW

      Like I said … there are most often a few different theories on how to fix the problem.
      If we look at race setup, similar processes are followed … just on a smaller scale. It is the basis of just about every racing series weekend, anywhere in the world … at least three practice sessions, with gaps inbetween that are long enough to make necessary setup changes, then qualifying which is the first time performance is really important and then the race.
      Often when a series visits a new venue there is an extra session, or even a test session months before. In F1 we’ve seen that when Pirelli have tested at a venue far enough ahead for them to use the data gathered to create a suitable tyre.

      The problem with the current system is that there isn’t enough time between testing an the season to test opposite ends of the spectrum, something in the middle, and then fine tune a solution from there.
      As a result we’ve effectively had year 1, 2 & 3 of the new regulations turned into ‘sessions’ 1, 2 & 3.

      • GeorgeK

        We’ll have to agree to disagree. It’s not like Renault are some mom and pop engine company cobbling PU’s together in their basement. They should have done much better.

        They should have an opportunity to address their problems through the token system everyone else is limited to.

        When RB can find something illegal MB or Ferrari are are doing then roll out the cries for banishment. Otherwise get on with fixing your problems within the rules.

  9. floodo1

    Will the powers that be ever allow even a single season of stability?

  10. trackmonster

    In F3 there is more battle between drivers. There are only 2 engines in F3 and these are very close in performance.
    In F1 there are to many differences in engine performance to have a fair competition. It’s boring…

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