Ferrari have had quite the engine upgrade for the last few races, one that Toto Wolff believed had a 0.5 second advantage over them on the straights at Hockenheim.
The Ferrari power unit still has a few much awaited developments in the pipeline, something that Mercedes quite worried, because they can’t always depend on ‘Vettel mistakes’ to help them stay relevant in the world championship race.
Now, Ferrari’s massive upgrade in performance has led to rumours suggesting that they have found a loophole in the regulations and are exploiting it to get this kind of performance.
Speaking at an AMG Media event in Stuttgart, Wolff questioned the legality of the Ferrari power unit by not explicitly saying it out loud, but by sugar coating it with the ‘risking your reputation’ euphemism.
“I think it’s highly complex technology,” Wolff said.
“If someone — and I’m not saying somebody is, because the fact is I don’t know, we are not in anybody’s engine, we are not in anybody’s bodywork — but if someone were prepared to risk his reputation then there is very little possibility to police that.
“You need to rely on the integrity of people and organisations, and we do that. At the end of the day with all the scepticism and paranoia that has always existed in Formula One we rely on the integrity of the FIA, we rely on the integrity of our competitors, because that’s the only way we can go racing on a Sunday.” he added.
Wolff then clarified his comments out ‘doubting his competitors integrity’ by saying that all Mercedes can do is take motivation from this and work towards a better package for the rest of the season.
“I think what we’ve seen is that on racetracks that should have suited us — Silverstone and Hockenheim — they had a car that was very good on the chassis side and a power unit that was the benchmark in the field. The only reaction we can have to that is not to say ‘What are they doing?’ but the reaction should be ‘What can we do in order to accelerate our own development program?’.
“I tell you, my mindset is really that everybody is respecting the integrity [of the regulations] because that is the only way we can go racing. If you doubt that, then the whole sport would have a problem, and I don’t [doubt it].” Wolff said.
Wolff also spoke about the 2019 aerodynamic rule changes and how Mercedes would cope with focussing on this season’s upgrades and balancing it out with how the car should be for the 2019 season.
“Yeah it’s a tricky one because every season you have to ask yourself when do you switch,” Wolff said.
“And if there’s new regulations kicking in obviously the development curve is very steep at the beginning and then flattens out.
“Whoever is able to start a month earlier is going to have the advantage at the beginning of the season. So we are asking ourselves that question every day and of course cooperations between teams play a role in that also. It’s not trivial and we are re-evaluating that constantly.” he concluded.