Mercedes did not deliberately reduce the performance of their power units in 2014, CEO Toto Wolff has insisted, despite recent claims made by a former senior member of staff.
Paddy Lowe, who was Mercedes’ executive technical director at the time, said this week the team was concerned that if rivals saw the true scale of their performance advantage the FIA might be pressured into introducing new rules to slow them down.
According to Lowe, Wolff repeatedly argued for the teams to run its engines in less powerful modes during qualifying, even in the decisive Q3 stage.
“In qualifying, we would never turn the engine up for Q1 and Q2,” he said. “It was run in a sort of idle mode.”
“The debate would then be how much to turn the engine up for Q3. I’d be getting it in the ear from Toto: ‘That’s too much, that’s too much’. And I’m thinking, ‘but if we don’t get pole, we’ll look like a right bunch of mugs’.”
Wolff, however, disputed Lowe’s recollection.
“I think Paddy must have been in a different place than I was,” he said. “There is no such situation that you turn back an engine just to have regulations tweaked in your direction.”
F1 introduced the current V6 hybrid turbo engine formula in 2014. Lowe said it was unlikely those rules would have been changed at short notice in response to Mercedes’ advantage.
“We were very competitive in 2014 and I think everybody could see that it was the start of a regulatory environment that wouldn’t have been changed anyway,” he said.