‘Only changes to engine regs will stop Mercedes’

Date published: January 8 2017

Although rivals are hoping that this year’s new regulations will halt Mercedes’ run, Bernie Ecclestone says only the scrapping of the hybrid engines will do that.

Formula 1 is undergoing a major overhaul ahead of this year’s championship with wider tyres and cars that will look more aggressive. The aim is to reduce times by up to five seconds per lap.

With the majority of the new rules focusing on aerodynamics, Red Bull Racing are confident that they can challenge Mercedes at the sharp end of the grid.

Ecclestone, though, reckons the reigning World Champions will maintain their advantage because they still have a superior power unit.

“Red Bull believe they can beat Mercedes with better aerodynamics,” the F1 supremo told Bild. “However, I’m not so sure about that.

“Mercedes’ advantage on the engine side still is large. Because of this we have to introduce new engine rules as soon as possible.

“It doesn’t matter [what kind of engine rules]. The important thing is to rule out the hybrid engines.

“[FIA president] Jean Todt thinks they are the spirit of our times, and this may be true for normal road cars. But in F1, people want to see something special.

“They want to have noisy, powerful engines that can be managed only by the best drivers in the world.

“You don’t put orthopaedic shoes onto your pro football players, do you, just because these kinds of shoes are popular in everyday life?”

Not for the first time the 86-year-old hit out at Formula 1’s rule book, saying in general the regulations are too complicated and need to be overhauled.

“The rules must be changed: all of them,” he added. “They are too complicated. We are in the entertainment business. But how are we supposed to entertain people when the audience doesn’t understand a thing any more?

“Even the drivers don’t know anymore what they can and cannot do on track.

“Sometimes I think the rule book just says: “Don’t race!” But let them touch from time to time, so what? Let the drivers handle it themselves.”

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