The FIA are keen to avoid a team having a superior power unit in 2026, when the new engine regulations are introduced.
Effectively, the governing body don’t want a repeat of what happened when the engines were last significantly changed in 2014, when the turbo-hybrid era was introduced.
Mercedes entered the turbo-hybrid era with an engine so powerful that they “never” ran it on full power during qualifying, as revealed by Paddy Lowe, who was the side’s technical director at the time.
FIA head of single seaters, Nikolas Tombazis, is very much wanting to avoid a “huge controversy” in 2026 by one manufacturer having a significantly stronger power unit, which is why measures have been put in place to avoid this.
“We obviously don’t want to start that season with huge controversy,” Tombazis told Autosport. “Last time, we had it pretty good. Since then, we have learned a bit more, and we can make sure we can avoid any kind of controversy.”
It was Mercedes’ superior engine which really kickstarted their dominance, which only concluded in 2022 when Red Bull won the Constructors’ Championship.
The Silver Arrows won the championship every year from 2014 all the way through to 2021, before their dominance ended following the introduction of the current aerodynamic regulations.
Back in 2014, Daniel Ricciardo was the only non-Mercedes driver to win a race, with the Silver Arrows having won the Constructors’ Championship by a healthy 296 points over Red Bull.
It was in qualifying where Mercedes’ power unit in 2014 really stretched its legs and showed its superiority, to the point that team boss Toto Wolff wanted the Germans to turn their engine down.
Lowe revealed that Wolff didn’t want their advantage to be too big over one-lap, with debates having taken place as to what level to put their engine on for Q3.
“The debate would then be how much to turn the engine up for Q3,” Lowe said, as reported by The Express. “I’d be getting it in the ear from Toto: ‘That’s too much, that’s too much’. And I’m thinking, ‘but if we don’t get pole, we’ll look like a right bunch of mugs’.
“So what number to pick that would do the job and knowing you didn’t want to err on the wrong way? So that was a big part of the discussion on Saturday afternoon. Nice chat to have. Actually, that went on for quite a long time. Through most of 2014, that engine was never on full power for qualifying.”