Lewis Hamilton says he is not surprised to hear about a plan to ban Formula 1 engine ‘qualifying modes’, though he does not believe the change would have the desired impact on Mercedes.

The high-performance ‘party mode’ settings originally developed by Mercedes for use in key moments of qualifying and in races could be outlawed as part of new restrictions that the FIA plans to impose, potentially as early as the Belgian Grand Prix.

Such changes are likely to reign in the Mercedes-powered cars, given the world championship-winning outfit’s apparent performance advantage over one lap compared to its rivals.

“It’s not a surprise, they’re always trying to slow us down,” Hamilton said in Thursday’s press conference ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix. “But it doesn’t really change a huge amount for us so it’s not a problem.”

Asked whether he feels Mercedes has more to lose than its rivals, Hamilton replied: “No.”

“The guys at our team have just done such a good job with the engine. It’s obviously to slow us down but I don’t think it’s going to get the result that they want. But that’s totally fine if they do it.”

Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas reckons it is difficult to judge exactly how much performance teams could be gaining from running the modes during qualifying.

“It’s impossible to know with other engine manufacturers how much they can actually gain when they put it all out in qualifying and if we’re actually gaining more or not,” he said.

“We are not panicking about it. If the regulation comes then it’s same for everyone.

“Every team obviously has different modes, how much they’re going to risk in terms of wearing the engine and sometimes when they can – and also same for us – save the engine,” he added.

“And also in terms of strategic things in the race for drivers, many times we’re using different kinds of modes whether we are defending or attacking.

“From my side it feels like if it would be same engine mode for everyone all through the race, there will be less overtaking because everyone’s just running the same modes instead of playing with them and trying to maximise the situation, sometimes using more power, sometimes less.

“In the end it will be less things for us to do in our driving. Obviously it’s not up to us but we’ll just take it as it comes.”

 

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