The FIA is planning to ban engine qualifying at the next Formula 1 Grand Prix in Belgium.
What remained a (very strong) assumption throughout the Barcelona weekend was confirmed by FIA Race Director Michael Masi during his post-race debriefing.
“Our engineers did a lot of preparatory work and we also consulted with the engine manufacturers,” he said in Barcelona.
“So we have full confidence in our directive and we intend to publish it before the race in Spa.”
To many, this seems like finally the FIA and the owners of F1, are at last trying to do something about the dominance of Mercedes. But will it actually work?
The so-called ‘party mode’ coined by Red Bull’s Christian Horner some years ago, allows the manufacturers’ engines to go up a notch or two for qualifying, unleashing the full 1000+ BHP in Q3 on a Saturday. Mercedes were the first, and arguably still the best, at doing this.
But the truth is qualifying mode for Mercedes is part of a risk strategy of how much engine life is available against the Power Unit quantity restriction per season. And it is still likely that Mercedes dominate in both power but more crucially, in reliability.
Logic dictates their base engine mode is already producing a higher amount of BHP than the rest.
Therefore, we might see other manufacturers having to boost their base engine power to compete with Mercedes, resulting in engine failures and / or grid penalties later in the season.
One can also argue that at present for Barcelona, the litmus test for Formula 1 car performance, Mercedes are already 1.5 seconds ahead of the rest, so without party mode they’ll probably still be over a second faster anyway.
Sorry FIA, too little too late.
Masi was also asked about the possibility of Istanbul and Jerez joining the calendar. If so, has he already planned to go and inspect these circuits? The Australian answered with a smile and some spin.
“The FIA regularly inspects the circuits, which is done at the request of the local federations and this work will continue.”