Toto Wolff says he is worried Formula 1 will develop into an 'arms race' between the manufacturers should the FIA not tighten up regulations he feels have allowed Ferrari to gain an advantage through its technical partnership with the incoming Haas team.
Mercedes has written to the FIA for clarity over a number of appendices in the sporting regulations that it deems to be 'ambiguous', most specifically bodywork design, wind tunnel testing, data sharing and the acceptance of entries.
Core of the complaint is the question over the timeframe from which an incoming team is classified as a competitor, thus bringing it into line with rivals when it comes to regulations restrictions, namely CFD and wind tunnel testing bans.
With this in mind, though Mercedes does not specifically name Ferrari or Haas in its letter to the FIA, the complaint is widely considered to assert the Italian team has gleaned data from Haas - which isn't classed as a competitor yet – it wouldn't otherwise be able to acquire under competition rules.
With the matter set to be resolved ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race, Toto Wolff insists the approach isn't about attempting to prove Ferrari or Haas have done anything wrong, more clarification for the future and whether Mercedes can also establish a similar partnership with a customer team, such as Manor.
“We think that a collaboration between Ferrari and Haas is within the rules and Ferrari has been given a carte blanche from the FIA,” he said. “There is nothing that we deem to be not within the rules.
“We are looking at 2016 and especially in consideration of the 2017 rules where the car might be completely different about the scope of development we could be having with another team. About sharing resource - human resource or technical resource - and we just need to understand what would be seen, going forward, as acceptable or not.”
However, though Wolff suggests Mercedes would be willing to go ahead with such a partnership, he adds an 'arms race' of launching junior teams under these regulations with the specific intention of aiding development of a parent team would not be in the interests of F1.
“This is the trigger of reorganising your structures to share ATR quota, to collaborate and educate personnel jointly, share infrastructure and it would eventually lead to a situation where it could become an arms race of how many co-operations or partners you could actually sign up in order to develop at a greater speed.”