17 November 2015
Mercedes hints it will discuss engine price ‘compromise’
Toto Wolff airs his frustration about the 'political agendas' behind the move to develop a customer engine, but says Mercedes is open to discussion
Toto Wolff says Mercedes could be enticed into a discussion about compromising on the price of its power units, but maintains reaching a unanimous agreement will be difficult to achieve.
Manufacturers have expressed their opposition to proposals from the FIA and FOM to develop a standard 'independent' engine that will be offered at a significantly lower price to customer teams than the current V6 Hybrid power units available from Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda.
With the FIA officially launching its tender for the engine over the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend, Mercedes F1 boss Wolff admits he is frustrated by the governing body's actions to shake up the engine formula, particularly given the manufacturer has already relented on the original plans for an engine freeze 'for the good of the sport'.
Despite this, Wolff maintains he is open to discussing the potential to lower prices of its engines, even if he feels the FIA wouldn't ultimately succeed in its aims.
“I think, like everywhere, compromise is the right way to go. We are not in a position where we want to freeze everything; we need to take the right direction for the sake of F1 in opening up the rules for next year so we didn't stick to the current regulations and take a hard line, saying 'these are the rules, next year's engine is frozen and the scope of development is being reduced next year'.
“We said 'no, let's open it up'. It's going to cost more money but, for Renault and Honda, it is the right thing to do, so we did that but does anybody talk about it and say it's good for F1? No.
“Now, is compromise needed in the purchase price? I think it's just a matter of discussion but I don't think we'll get everybody on board as there are so many different objectives from the various stakeholders in the sport – and, again, if we believe there needs to be a competitive platform, if it needs more teams to be competitive, to be able to win races, it makes the whole thing more attractive for us.”
Refuting the prices of the power units as quoted by various figured, Wolff is sceptical about the reasons behind the push for a cheaper engine, saying it is a bi-product of agendas from various parties.
“All those prices that are in the market, which are rumoured, are just part of politics – for whatever reason. I think it is fair enough to just accept that everybody has a view and has an agenda – and everybody has different agendas.
“There might be a team which wants to break the domination of Mercedes at the moment and wants a different engine concept; and then we have Jean Todt, who wants a cheaper engine for whatever his agenda is…
“Then you have Bernie, who doesn't like the constructors supplying customers because then, he says, you have a certain influence on the customers and this has shifted the balance of power in F1. Is that the case? I don't know but some of these agendas are very interesting.
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