Red Bull chief Christian Horner has stirred the pot by suggesting that Claire Williams lobbied the FIA to ensure that engine manufacturers in their case Mercedes – provide equal engines and software relating to running them and implying that the Grove outfit doubted the parity between the power units bolted onto the back of the Silver Arrows and those on their cars.
But Mercedes chief Toto thinks differently, “I don’t think any of our customers was pushing for it. It’s not relevant for us, because the rules have been in place for a while that you must supply the customers with the same hardware and software from a power unit standpoint, and we’ve always done that.”
In recent years the Mercedes works drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas (and formally Nico Rosberg) have appeared to be capable of extracting a little extra from their engines than their customers, especially evident in qualifying Q3 when everything is dialled up to the maximum.
Indeed no Mercedes powered customer teams – Williams and Force India – has won a grand prix in this new turbo era while the German outfit have been dominant. This, of course, prompted speculation that the hardware was ‘identical’ but the software was not, hence the recent FIA directive.
But Wolff insists, “Identical modes for the customers and us. They have the same mileage allowance as the works team, there is no difference whatsoever. That’s why we have no problem with that. If there is any suspicion out there, it certainly wasn’t anything that would have any consequence for us.
“We have the belief that sharing modes and engine calibration among six cars triggers a steeping learning curve for us than running different engine specifications between the customers and the works team.”
And added, “We’re all using the same fuels, because we’re calibrating our engines on one spec of fuel.”
Big Question: Do Williams and Force India really have the same Mercedes engines as the Silver Arrows?