Lewis Hamilton says he is not concerned by Formula 1’s move to ban qualifying engine modes, insisting it won’t have a major impact on Mercedes’ current performance edge.
It is understood the ban will come into force at the Belgian Grand Prix later this month, with the FIA issuing a technical directive to inform teams of the change.
This will result in teams now having to run the same engine modes for both qualifying and the race, in what has been interpreted as a move to clampdown on Mercedes-powered teams being able to make significant gains over one lap.
Mercedes has been the benchmark for engine performance since the beginning of the V6 hybrid era in 2014, winning six championship doubles on the bounce.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, Hamilton said he wasn’t surprised by the change, but remained relaxed about the situation.
“it’s not a surprise to us, they’re always trying to slow us down,” Hamilton said, as quoted by Motorsport.com. “But it doesn’t really change a huge amount for us so it’s not a problem.”
Asked if Mercedes will lose out more than rival engine manufacturers, Hamilton believed that while it would inevitably slow them down, other teams won’t “get the result they want”.
“No. And just going back to the fact that at the end of the day, the guys on our team have done such a great job with the engine,” he said.
“It’s obviously to slow us down but I don’t think it’s going to get the result that they want, so that’s totally fine if they do.”
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas was also unfazed by the ban, but pointed out that it could limit overtaking chances during races given engine modes are a strategic aspect when trying to gain or hold on to a position.
“It’s impossible to know with other engine manufacturers how much they can actually gain when they do it all-out in qualifying and if we’re gaining more or not,” Bottas said. “We are not panicking about it, if that regulation comes it’s the same for everyone.
“But when I heard about the possibility for the first time, actually this morning, the first thing [that] came to my mind is the effect it will have in races. Because every team obviously has different modes in terms of how much they want to risk in terms of wearing the engine and sometimes when they can [change the performance mode].
“[It’s] also the same for us, we can save the engine if we have margin, and also in terms of strategic things in the race, for drivers many times we are using different modes whether we are defending, attacking.
“So from my side it feels like if it could be the same engine mode for everyone all through the race, I think there could be less overtaking because everyone is just running the same modes instead of playing with them and trying to maximise every situation with sometimes using more power, sometimes less.
“But in the end it would be less things for us to do while driving. Obviously it’s not up to us but we’ll take it if it comes.”