We were discussing the 2017 regulation changes here and while Mercedes boss Toto Wolff isn’t sold on the idea, perhaps no surprise that Red Bull’s Christian Horner is. Is his endorsement of the changes self serving? Well, perhaps but you could see where the power struggle in Formula 1 is starting to manifest.
Red Bull has very little to lose as it is using a re-badged Renault power unit and working within chassis regulations that have neutered what I will call the Newey effect although I would also argue Adrian and his folks have done an incredible job of it this year. Bottom line is, they are down on power and competitive performance, like most of the field, and behind Mercedes quite a distance. They, naturally, might welcome a change in regulations to re-balance the grid.
“I think the change is a positive change,” he explained. “It will make the cars more dramatic, and more challenging for the drivers to drive.
“It is not a totally clean sheet of paper but it is a significant change, and that will maybe shuffle the order up a bit.
“I think while the racing has been good this year, a shuffling of the pack is probably not a bad thing.”
Conversely, Mercedes may not be keen to make changes, as we discussed in this story, and for good reason. Even Ferrari aren’t keen in making radical changes at this point as their power unit seems to be making competitive performance progress. Horner feels they should welcome the changes:
“Maybe they will get it better than everyone else, but when you get a significant rule change it does move the order around,” he said.
“Inevitably the big teams get on top of it quicker sometimes than others.
“It is the first significant regulation change that Mercedes will have faced in its current guise, but it is a challenge for everybody.”
Where the issue could get a bit sticky is that you may naturally feel that privateers like Red Bull, Force India, Sauber, Haas F1, Manor and Williams would all join Horner in his endorsement, that may not be the case at all. They would most likely side with Mercedes and Ferrari as the two manufacturers are nearest in competitive performance and supply over half the grid with engines. Making changes would most likely hurt their competitive edge whatever that may be.
This is where F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone alludes to the cabal of power and how they’ve ganged up to control the sport. The power in F1 is largely between two teams. It’s the reason he wants a new, third engine option that would keep manufacturers from dominating the sport of a power base standpoint.
You may argue that Horner is just being a self-serving prat but I would argue that he’s anything but. He knows that the owners of F1 need to make changes, viewership is down and domination—so comprehensive—from Mercedes isn’t helping matters and the political control of the sport is at risk. If it happens to help his team, well, that’s an added bonus.
Hat Tip: Motorsport