Mercedes power was the recipe of choice in 2014 – the guys and girls at Brixworth had clearly managed to provide the best package on the grid and in what has become an engine-formula, this proved to be a vital asset. Coupled with an excellent chassis, the W05 was the class of the field. While analysts will be bold to bet against more Mercedes domination this season, the head of the outfit’s engine department Andy Cowell, has acknowledged that Ferrari, Renault and the unknown quantity of Honda are likely to mount a challenge over the course of this year.
Homologation aside, catching Mercedes power in 2015 was always set to be a difficult task for rival manufacturers. Engine politics has dictated that the 32 token limit has been instated for this season, on the basis that overriding the rule required unanimous agreement of the three 2014 suppliers and it was Mercedes who essentially vetoed the wishes of Ferrari and Renault – and quite rightly so. Turkey’s voting for Christmas comes to mind…
Even following the eagle-eyed Ferrari engineer’s discovery that no homologation deadline had been established ahead of this season, the Mercedes-topped incline looks remarkably steep. Undoubtedly, rival manufacturers will have been able to adopt some of the technologies used by Mercedes, as well as find their own ingenious touches, but Mercedes will continue to develop as well. Speculation suggests that Brixworth may have discovered an additional 80bhp – their ERS advantage gave them an equivalent advantage in 2014. 80bhp could have the potential to negate any gains made by rivals over the winter months.
“Ferrari and Renault will aim higher than what we have at present,” Andy Cowell highlighted in an interview with Auto Motor Und Sport. “Honda is a bit of an unknown, but we should not underestimate the ability of the Japanese manufacturer. We will take a big step forward, but I cannot guarantee that this is sufficient to be better than the competition.”
While the likes of Adrian Newey would criticise the fact that F1 success has become so engine-dependent, a lack of freedom for aerodynamisists has been balanced out by the constant drive to find power. Albeit not a perfect formula, I feel that the current regulations provide enough freedom to keep the technology interesting. Ultimately, the regulations will only ever be too restrictive when all the cars post the same times, and with Mercedes domination, we are far from that. The lack of an engine deadline promises to keep technological fascination as a key factor this season. Cowell’s suggestions are certainly promising for neutrals.