When the F1 Commission met at last month’s Belgian Grand Prix, the topic of engine equalisation was on the agenda. This followed claims from Alpine that its power unit supplier Renault needed to recover a potential 30bhp deficit relative to rivals Ferrari, Mercedes and Honda.
Presently, F1 has an engine performance freeze. As such, Renault elected to target power with its split-turbo 2022 engine design at the expense of reliability.
The rules allow the manufacturer to modify its set-up in order to improve its durability only. But amid the concern that its engine performance was lacking, Alpine management met with other teams to see if support for performance-balancing measures could be agreed.
However, Ferrari F1 boss Fred Vasseur raised his doubts about the scale of the problem. He said exceptional circumstances could be allowed for manufacturers who were “completely out of range” but he was “not sure that Renault is so far away”.
Wolff has now reinforced this, saying that Mercedes’ own measurements suggest the Renault engine does not fall beyond a 3% performance deficit relative to rivals to permit special dispensation.
Asked whether extra development hours should be afforded to Renault, the Austrian said: “How we designed the regulations was that for 2026, if one of the constructors would fall outside of 3% to the best power unit, we would allow them to have more dyno time and we would act in best faith and find regulations.
“Now, we’re not talking 2026, but we’re mid into those regulations and it’s true it’s frozen. But Fred is absolutely right, we don’t see anything close to 3%.”
Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 A523
Photo by: Erik Junius
Wolff added that the rulebook could not be changed “on the fly” and that Renault needed to “sort it out” independently.
He continued: “Number two, we cannot make up regulations on the fly just because someone doesn’t perform. Therefore, if you’re going to change them for the next cycle, then fine, but I think that with 3% we are in a good place and certainly not fiddle with the PU or give them more fuel flow or any of these things.
“Work yourself out, the same would be for us, I might be biting my tongue in three years. Work yourself out, you’re getting more dyno time and sort it out.”
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