Mercedes drove deliberately slower at the beginning of the hybrid era

28-04-2021 16:35 | Updated: 28-04-2021 20:27
F1 News
Mercedes drove deliberately slower at the beginning of the hybrid era

When Formula 1 introduced hybrid engines in 2014, it had a huge effect on the competitiveness of the sport. From then on, it was dominated by Mercedes. Paddy Lowe, then executive director at Mercedes, explains in Beyond the Grid that Mercedes even had to hold back in those first few years.

Mercedes was afraid of political consequences

In the first years of the hybrid-era Merceces was so strong that even then there was a strong suspicion that Mercedes didn't show the back of their tongue. Lowe has now admitted that this was indeed the case. They were afraid at Mercedes that the FIA and Ecclestone would intervene if they were too dominant.

"You had Toto and the board of Daimler who were worried about the negative politics of looking 'too good'. Then you had Bernie [Ecclestone] running around with saying 'this is a nightmare, these engines are terrible'. The thinking was that if Mercedes looked ridiculously good, then something would be done about it," says Lowe.

"So there was a lot of tension around the strangest of subjects, which was ‘how good to look’. So in qualifying we would never turn the engine up for Q1 or Q2, which was run in a sort of idle mode. The debate would then be how much to turn the engine up for Q3."

For Toto Wolff, it soon went too fast

"I would be getting in my ear from Toto ‘That’s too much, that’s too much!’ While I was thinking ‘If we don’t get pole we’ll look like a right bunch of mugs. That actually went on for quite a long time. For most of 2014 that engine was never on full power for qualifying."

Now that Paddy Lowe is no longer involved with Mercedes, he can talk freely about this. It confirms the suspicions of many skeptics that Mercedes had an unprecedented advantage at the start of the hybrid era, damaged the sport with their dominance and are still reaping the rewards to this day.

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