The Italian GP will be the first event in the 2020 F1 season with teams running just one engine mode across qualifying and races as drivers await to see how it shuffles up.
The talk from FIA for banning the qualifying mode and having just the one engine mode for Saturday and Sunday, was about helping the governing body to decrease irregularities of regulations from the F1 teams. They wanted one mode for better management.
However, in the days leading to the F1 Italian GP, Red Bull Racing’s Helmut Marko revealed that it was them pushing for a change, so that it limits certain advantages of Mercedes. It remains to be seen how much change there is which is what drivers concurred.
Even though the notion is about Mercedes being at a disadvantage, the German F1 manufacturer is more optimistic as they feel that they will stand to gain in the races, despite them losing a bit in qualifying, especially in Q3.
As for the rest of the field, it is their own battles, whether it is Renault and McLaren chasing Racing Point or Haas and Alfa Romeo Racing getting the better of Williams. The larger picture will only come to light this Saturday and Sunday.
Here’s how the F1 drivers reacted to the change:
Mercedes F1 pack –
Lewis Hamilton: “I think naturally we lose a little bit, but it’s not the end of the day. I think everyone is potentially going to lose something, but maybe some more than others. No-one particularly knows I think, but I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for us. I find it kind of amusing, because the FIA said that it was so they could manage everyone’s usage of the engine or something like that, then Red Bull said we were the ones pushing for it. So there’s complete different reasons why they’re doing it. I think it’s a compliment at the end of the day.
‘Hopefully the guys back at the factory, it’s a compliment, they’ve done such a fantastic job with the engine. We’ll continue to work and improve with the situation that we’re given. I like personally being able to control when you use some of the life of the engine and when you save it. That’s been a strength of mine in terms of saving engine mileage through the year, making the engine last longer. They take a bit of that away, but it means we have to worry less about switching over to anything else.”
Valtteri Bottas: “I think in qualifying obviously there is going to be a small difference, it’s not huge, but in the race hopefully it seems like we’re going to have overall better race time with a decent mode all through the race. The team has really tried to maximise it. Of course we’ll see this weekend how it goes, but it’s not going to change much. It’s just one strategic thing less, so everything is a bit more equal I guess.”
Sergio Perez: “We’re gonna see. We don’t know how hard the others can run their engines in the race, we will see, I think certainly it’s going to hurt us a bit the qualifying. And it’s to be seen how much we are able to gain back in the race compared to others. It’s all relative. So I think it’s just a matter of waiting for this weekend. This track is very hard on engines, so there might be some engines blowing up out there this weekend. So it will be important to make it to the end. And it will be very interesting to see the differences across teams.”
Lance Stroll: “I haven’t done any work on the simulator, but I expect us to take a bit of a drop in quali, and a big gain in the race.”
George Russell: “I think unfortunately it will probably effect us and Racing Point more than Mercedes – purely because Mercedes are so far ahead in qualifying anyway. And if anything it’s only going to help them even more in the race, so the whole idea of trying to slow them down is actually going to go complete the opposite way and it’s only going to enhance their performance.
“I think on a Saturday it will probably compromise us a tenth of two, but we expect it to also compromise the other manufacturers a tenth or so. So we are probably a net one tenth down on a Saturday, but on a Sunday we’re definitely net up by a big margin. And I think what Mercedes has done to improve the engine to allow us to run a very high engine more for the whole race is really impressive and she’s going to be flying on the Sundays.”
Nicholas Latifi: “In the sim work done before Spa, I would’ve been using the probably full party mode for those runs. It’s going to be maybe a few tenths, a tenth or so. In qualifying it’s going to hurt us a bit, but then in the race it’s only going to help us – we’re going to have just more allocation, more laps of a higher engine mode that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to run for so long.
“It will be interesting to see how it stacks up. For us in qualifying it might look a bit more evident because, as with George he’s always just on the cusp of… he’s been on the right side of getting to Q2 and sometimes that tenth came make the difference. We might not have that now. [But] it’s going to be a benefit in the race, for sure.”
The Honda F1 pack –
Max Verstappen: “Hopefully, we don’t lose too much. I don’t think for us let’s say the party mode was that big, so I don’t think we will lose a lot of power there. The other teams, it’s difficult to say, so we just have to wait and see in Q3 how it’s always going to be. As for attacks in the races, don’t think it will affect so much my style because I see two Mercedes cars in front of me, which most of the time I’m not able to get in the DRS from.
“So, it probably is the same. To be honest, it just makes everything a bit easier. Not that it was very difficult before, but you just stay in one mode in the restart, or to start, and it’s a bit better I guess. After qualifying normally we are not allowed to change anything on the car. But we were allowed, of course, to change the engine mode. So I guess if you want to go in that same direction I guess it’s a good thing to do that as well with the engine.”
Daniil Kvyat: To be honest I haven’t gone on bit depths with it with my engineers. I think, the team and the engine engineers they have all the information at their disposal. We will understand a bit more maybe tomorrow after running how it will feel for driver, and I don’t expect it gonna be day and night for sure, but we will see. In the end, the engine the way you drive the car will not change much in that respect, so I think for a driver it will not be a huge change to before, to be honest.
Pierre Gasly: “We had some information about our package. Obviously it will depend a lot on the impact it has on all the other engines Renault, Ferrari, Mercedes. Yeah, we expect the main difference to be qualifying, obviously. But as I said, like it’s the first race we’re going to have this change, there will probably be things we’re going to discover also tomorrow, to be able to improve the performance for Saturday and Sunday. So no, it’s going to be slower in qualy. I don’t expect much difference in the race. But ultimately it depends how it impacts others, so I guess we’ll have to wait Sunday to see if it can help us or improve our performance relatively to the others, or not.”
The Renault F1 pack –
Lando Norris: “I’m hoping it will hurt Mercedes the most! But at the same time it is going to effect us and going to effect everyone at some stage but I think the Renault power unit is pretty good, it is not terrible, they have taken some steps forward over the last couple of years and it has come on strong as we can see at these long straights on the circuit, we are much better than we were a few years ago, but at the same time the Mercedes is still there.”
The Ferrari F1 pack –
Romain Grosjean: “We’ve discussed this morning what the changes are, and make sure that we get it right for the race. I think we have a plan to act accordingly. We know what we are losing or what we are gaining. Mostly what we are losing. But we don’t know what the others are going to be like. It will be interesting to find out and see if it will shake up the order or not. I guess Saturday and Sunday is going to be interesting in that aspect.
“As for Williams, unless they can run the qualy modes for the whole race, which on tracks like Monza and Mugello where you need full power from the engine. That’s the other side, it may bring some shake up, it may not bring anything different. It may push some of the manufacturers to bring their engine to the next limit, and then maybe we see reliability issues, which could create some surprises.”
Kevin Magnussen: “We won’t have to change engine modes in the race. That’s one less switch to be turning, but it wasn’t really a big problem anyway in the past. Hopefully the other engine manufacturers will lose more than us. That’s just my hope. I have no real knowledge.”
Here’s what Helmut Marko said
Here’s Mercedes explaining F1 engine modes