A ban on qualifying engine modes won’t now come into effect until the Italian Grand Prix, giving teams more time to prepare for the rule change, which had originally been planned for next weekend’s Belgian round.
The FIA issued a notice to teams of its intention to ban powerful engine modes because they are difficult to monitor, but many believe the ban is actually aimed at slowing Mercedes, which has an enormous advantage on Saturday.
FIA secretary general for motorsport Peter Bayer wrote to the teams during the Spanish GP weekend stating that the “multitude and complexity of modes being used make it extremely difficult for the FIA to monitor compliance with all the PU-related regulations and provisions in selected critical moments of the event.”
It went on to add that “in order to address the above concerns in the future, we will be requiring that during the qualifying session and the race, the PU should operate in a single mode.”
A technical directive was issued earlier this week confirming the ban, but certain teams raised concerns and requested more time to implement the changes.
This has duly been agreed to and the ban will now come into effect for the Italian GP at Monza, a week later than originally planned.
Speaking last weekend, F1 race director Michael Masi said he is confident the rule change can be effectively policed.
“I think we’re very confident of that, otherwise we wouldn’t have gone down the road that we have,” he said. “I know that the technical team in particular has done a huge amount of work on this, and has also consulted with the four power unit manufacturers to get their input into this.
“We’re as confident as we possibly can be at the moment, otherwise we wouldn’t be going down that road.”
Although rumours suggest Mercedes have been targeted by the ban, team boss Toto Wolff thinks they could actually benefit.
“If Formula 1 were to ban in-season certain power unit modes, then I think it will actually help us in the race. If you can avoid damage to your power unit in those few qualifying laps that you have available, in Q3 and then the odd lap in the race, the damage metrics goes down dramatically.
“So five laps of qualifying modes not being used gives us 25 laps of extra performance in the race, and that is something we believe will give us more performance.
“You must take into effect even if it may hurt us more in qualifying, which I’m not sure [it will], and it’s only a couple of tenths, then it will hurt all the others in the same way.
“But for us, we are always very marginal on what we can extract from the power unit, and if we were to be limited in qualifying modes, then well, we will be stronger in the race.”