Wolff rejects PU convergence proposals, calls them "an insult"
The Austrian warns that an engine convergence mechanism as mooted by rivals would threaten F1's integrity as a meritocracy.
Without a F1 power unit supplier for 2022, and seeking to form their own engine program, Red Bull had previously requested an engine freeze from that year onwards, so as to give the Milton Keynes team a chance to build up a programme.
Further steps were also suggested by the team and its rival Ferrari more recently, the two teams mooting a performance-equalizing system to be applied to power units, all the while reiterating that the system would not be akin to the 'Balance of Performance' (BoP) system seen in other series', such as in DTM or WEC.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff repudiated this proposal, though, arguing that the implementation of such a system goes against the fundamental philosophies of F1. He also refutes the claim that this proposal is, in any meaningful way, different to BoP.
The Austrian also says various factors would make the quantification of a PU's quality, and therefore the evaluation of deserved penalties, impossible. "I don't see any difference, and I think this would be the beginning of the end [of F1]," Wolff told media including Motorsport Network, Racefans.net, BBC, AMuS and more.
"The power unit is not only measured by the sheer max power, but it is subject to driveability, to weight, to cooling, and introducing a simple formula that fits all isn't possible. It's not something that Mercedes would endorse."
Wolff considers DTM's introduction of such a system this year to have been the downfall of the series, and cautions that a similar system could taint F1. Those in favor of BoP would likely argue that other series' iterations of BoP have proved effective, like in a sister-category to DTM, Super GT. "I've seen it in DTM where weights were introduced based on your performances, and the only thing we heard after qualifying was 'well I would have qualified on pole if I wouldn't have had 5kg in the car'," said Wolff.
"That was the whole narrative of the DTM seasons. Formula 1 must stay very, very far away from that, or we end up like in GTs where you design power units for the sole topic of manipulating the system."
Wolff also rejected the re-introduction of a possible token system, calling it an "insult" after years of caprices from Mercedes' rivals, seemingly based solely on their performance. "We had a token system in the past when the regulations came out, and because some of our colleagues wished the tokens to be removed in order to catch up, we agreed to a removal of the tokens. Now some of our colleagues come back with a system of convergence, which honestly said, it is bit of an insult.
"When you look at the last few years, and the development of performances in the engine, Ferrari was clearly the most powerful engine in 2018, and by far the best in 2019. And we developed our engine, we continued to push the boundaries, and we brought something to the track in 2020 that we were hoping would catch up.
"That's why I cannot comprehend that any car manufacturer that trusts in his abilities to develop a power unit and a chassis would want some kind of mechanism that would balance the power units out. I don't think anybody would accept such a humiliation in public. We won’t do Balance of Performance because as I said before, that is not in the interest of any car manufacturer, nor Formula 1 nor the drivers.
"This is a meritocracy and it was always a meritocracy,” Wolff said, emphatically.
[This story was written by me for FormulaRapida and edited by Darshan Chokhani]