High-performance ‘qualifying mode’ Formula 1 engine settings originally developed by Mercedes could be outlawed from the Belgian Grand Prix.

The FIA has informed teams that it wants to impose new restrictions on the special engine modes used in qualifying, with the changes set to rein in the Mercedes-powered cars.

Mercedes were the first team to develop the dubbed ‘party mode’ during the V6 hybrid era, which has prompted other engine manufacturers to push to develop similar settings that extract more performance from the car during key moments in qualifying and the race.

The extra stain such qualifying modes place upon power units during their peak performance is unsuitable to be used constantly over a full race distance due to reliability reasons.

“The only reason we don’t run full power the whole time is reliability,” Haas driver Kevin Magnussen explained when speaking to media ahead of this weekend’s Spanish GP. “What matters to us is how competitive you are and I guess that’s the end of it.

"Sometimes when you're turning things up and down it can mix up your braking points and entry points through different corners, as a driver it would be nice if you had the same power all weekend.

“The main thing is to be competitive I guess and that’s what you look at, and you try to put as much power from the engine that you can.”

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And Magnussen reckons such restrictions would result in teams running less during practice.

“If you’re only allowed to run one single engine map the whole weekend then you would probably limit running in practice and so on,” he added. “That’s my guess but we will see.”

According to several reports, a letter has been sent to teams by the FIA outlining its intention for teams to run the same ICE modes in both qualifying and the race for the 2021 season.

It is understood the restrictions could be imposed as early as the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of the month.

If that is the case, then teams would only be permitted to use their current ‘quali modes’ at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix before the change comes into effect.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner and Max Verstappen believe that its current deficit to Mercedes is largely down to the differences in the way the teams can run their engines in qualifying.

Romain Grosjean says he witnessed the benefits of Mercedes’ high-performance engine modes during last weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone when he watched the onboard of Williams’ Nicholas Latifi’s overtake on Magnussen.

“When I was watching the onboards from last race and I saw Nicholas Latifi could overtake Kev through Turn 9 and Turn 10, obviously they have a button that is very powerful - the Mercedes engine, which is good for them because it’s definitely not a place where you can overtake a car,” he said.

Speaking about the effects of the engine modes, Lafiti explained: “It definitely is noticeable. You feel the engine is a bit more punchy.

“You are using the full deployment of the battery as well, so you end with nothing left. It would be a shame to lose that part of it.”

Williams teammate George Russell said he would be “disappointed to see it lost” from F1, adding: “For every engine manufacturer you’ve got a boost for qualifying within the car.

“You’ve got the lowest amount of fuel for the whole weekend, you’ve got the fastest engine mode, and you are the most pumped up and ready for that lap.

“Everything just feels that little bit extra and it allows you to extract more from the car. It’s such an exciting part of the weekend and I would be disappointed to see it go.”

Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen confirmed Ferrari has not provided a ‘party mode’ for the 2020 F1 season, so any technical directive is unlikely to have an impact on the Ferrari-powered cars.

 

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