Mercedes isn’t sold on 2017 regulation changes

We’ve discussed the pending 2017 regulation changes at length here but there has been a story out regarding Mercedes boss Toto Wolff’s insistence that we not change anything for 2017:

“There are two weeks to go until we have our final commission and strategy group meeting in order to come up with the regulations,” said Wolff. “On the engine front we are pretty much there. We have an agreement which needs to be ratified by the stakeholders, but there are lots of benefits for most of the teams in that agreement. So I am hopeful that they will be done.

“And in terms of the 2017 regulations, we voted for them and we voted for the so-called McLaren proposal a while ago. There will be discussion around it, if it is the right way forward. Of course, but I don’t think that will get the necessary majority to turn it down again and come up with something else.”

One of the conventional beliefs in Formula 1 is that the more stable the regulations, the lower the costs and more competitive the racing becomes. We saw that when the V8 engine reached its zenith in development and left the series to tweak aero and chassis designs for a competitive edge.

When the FIA introduced the hybrid engines, the disparity was immediately evident on who got it right the first time and that was clearly Mercedes. With Ferrari closer this year, are we starting to see the regulation stability allowing for the closing of the performance gap?

“You remember what we always said. Even if it is uncomfortable for the commercial rights holder [Bernie Ecclestone] that we have been running away with lots of races and the two championships, the longer you keep regulations stable the more the performance is going to converge between everybody and this is exactly what is happening now.

“The engines are converging, the teams are converging, the gains we are making are smaller as the curve flattens out and the others are making bigger steps so I think we are having an ideal situation with great racing. Three great races in a row now, are we capable of reacting quick enough and acknowledging that, and reverting to regulations which seem to be okay now. I don’t know.

“We are going to change it. Somebody else or us is going to run away with the championship next year because it is in the regulations, everything starts from the beginning. More downforce which you won’t see just on pure laptime, less overtaking because the wake is much more extreme. There is nothing to be sold on that. There is no selling proposition in those new regulations in my opinion. We should just leave it alone.

“And maybe speaking against ourselves because clearly we don’t have the advantage we had last year, but the racing is great and will become even greater if we leave the regulations alone.”

If Toto is right and we are seeing this convergence and more competitive racing, then I wonder if it isn’t a simple question that the owners simply do not think the hybrid engine format and current chassis design is really what they want for F1? If it’s as plain as the nose on Toto’s face then clearly owners see this but perhaps what they see isn’t what they want.

Hat Tip: Adam Cooper