Red Bull F1 team boss Christian Horner has suggested that Formula 1 shoult ban special engine modes to avoid major differences in performance between the qualifiying and race we have seen over the past few years.
Mercedes has a special engine mode for a short-term increase in power since 2014, and even in the fifth year of the same rules, other manufacturers are not at their level and can’t achieve similiar power boost without compromising reliability.
While in Q1 and Q2 in 2018 Australian GP there was no big difference between the three leading teams (Red Bull in Q2 on supersoft was less than half a second behind fastest time), Hamilton had a perfect Q3 lap to win the pole position with almost seven tenths advantage, improving his previous best time for nearly nine tenths.
Many attributed Hamilton’s Q3 performance leap to the special engine mode that Mercedes used so well known in recent years, but Hamilton has firmly rejected such suggestions, arguing that they use same mods in Q2 and Q3.
Horner disagrees and believes Mercedes uses a special engine mode in Q3 and, not surprisingly, calls for its abolition.
“You have parc ferme when the cars leave for qualifying,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.
“Maybe the engine mode should be the same from the moment you leave the garage to the end of the grand prix.”
“Lewis’ time came predominantly between Q2 and Q3,” he added. “They have a qualy mode that they don’t need to use in the earlier parts of qualifying, because why stress the engine?”
Horner questions Renault F1 engine parity
Although the FIA issued the directive last month to ensure that all customers have the same engine hardware and software as the factory teams, Horner does not believe that this is the case with Renault.
“You just have to look at the maximum speeds on Saturday where all Renault engines are grouped together with different levels of downforce on the car. That is where we need to make progress.”
“There are bits in the pipeline,” he added. “Renault are not divulging everything that they’re up to but it’s certainly something that we’re pushing for.”
The difference in the performance with the same engines can also be due to the use of other fuels and lubricants (Red Bull ExxonMobil products while Renault uses BP/Castrol) but also the different engine and ERS system installation and configuration.
Red Bull had ‘only one lap’ to judge their pace
Ricciardo and Verstappen spent most of their races behind slower cars – Verstappen immediately fell behind behind Magnussen, and after his first corner spin he fell behind Hulkenberg and later Alonso. Ricciardo got a three place grid penalty so he also spent most of his race behind other drivers.
“We got one lap in clean air in the grand prix to judge our pace on which Daniel set the fastest lap,” said Horner.
“I think we have a quick race car, it’s just unfortunate on this track not to be able to use it.
“Taking the positives out of the weekend, it’s the first time in the hybrid era we have got two cars to the finish. We got the fastest lap of the race, and that wasn’t through putting a set of ultrasofts on, it was genuine pace. I think we have a quick race car.
“The negative for us is still the deficit in qualifying. The party mode… we’d like to go to Lewis’ party.”