Wolff leads chorus of dissent over plan to introduce cut-price engines

AUSTIN • Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff yesterday led the protests against Bernie Ecclestone's plan to introduce a supply of alternative cheaper engines in 2017 for Formula One's cash-strapped teams.

Speaking ahead of the rain-hit United States Grand Prix, Ecclestone said the sport's ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA), plans to launch a tender process for the contract for new engines early next week.

"They'll probably have more power and use more fuel, so it means that there will be some regulation changes," said the sport's commercial ringmaster, adding that something had to be done to keep costs under control or risk losing a few teams.

Wolff said Mercedes were against the introduction of a cheaper engine alternative and a change of direction in terms of technological development, after the German manufacturer had spent millions on the current generation of 1.6 V6 turbo engines.

"Yes, it can be done," he said. "But it's not what we would opt for because we've different objectives...

"The engine manufacturers decided to enter Formula One because the current concept fits with what is happening on the roads. But then equally from the commercial rights holder the priority is to have a level playing field."

Ecclestone has been a critic of the current engines, saying they are not loud, powerful or fast enough - and are too expensive for independent "privateer" teams struggling to make ends meet.

But Mercedes have dominated the competition since the introduction of the hybrid engines last year, winning back-to-back constructors' titles.

Qualifying for the United States Grand Prix - postponed to yesterday due to rain - again saw the Silver Arrows come out tops.

Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton secured the front row with times of 1min 56.824sec and 1:56.929 respectively.

Hamilton would take his third world championship if he scored nine points more than Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and two more than Rosberg in the race.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2015, with the headline 'Wolff leads chorus of dissent over plan to introduce cut-price engines'. Print Edition | Subscribe