F1's Imbalance Of Power
Autosport|February 15,2018

The top two teams have far too much clout, too often exerted for self interest instead of the long-term health of the sport as a whole.

MAX VERSTAPPEN SUGGESTED LAST WEEK THAT IF Red Bull had the Mercedes engine, its rivals “would never see us again”, and maybe he’s right. In the opinion of most, Adrian Newey remains unsurpassed, so yes, Max and Daniel Ricciardo might well be in the pound seats for 2018 – if they had Mercedes power.

They don’t, though. When the team’s relationship with Renault was at its lowest, a couple of years ago, attempts were indeed made to do a deal with Mercedes – and Ferrari – but, unlike Renault, these two companies are famously reluctant to sell engines to any team that might threaten them.

When Zak Brown was casting about for an engine to replace Honda at McLaren, unsurprisingly, given their mutual history, there was never a conversation with Ferrari, but there was much discussion with Mercedes, and Brown told me it got far down the line. What, then, ultimately killed it?

“Well – this’ll surprise you – politics! Some at Mercedes wanted us to have the engine, and some didn’t; then fuel​​​​​ became an issue – and also you needed permission to supply more than three teams from the FIA, who were insistent on keeping Honda in Formula 1: it became very political.

“Like I say, there were different opinions at Mercedes about supplying McLaren, but in fairness to them they were prepared to help Honda develop their engine, so I must give Toto [Wolff] credit for that.”

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