Horner calls for restriction on engine qualifying modes


The qualifying mode that saw Lewis Hamilton take pole position for the season opening Australian Grand Prix, left Daniel Ricciardo devoid of his usual ever-present grin.

"That sucks," said the Australian. "It's frustrating, because everyone else wants to see them get challenged a bit more, so that was a little bit of a punch in the stomach to everyone."

Indeed, the so-called 'party mode' left rivals teams feeling there was precious little to celebrate.

It comes as no surprise therefore to hear Christian Horner become one of the first to call for a restriction on the qualifying modes that allow Mercedes to consistently raise the benchmark ever higher.

Indeed, the Briton is calling for engine modes to be included in parc ferme conditions at the start of qualifying, thereby preventing teams using them to ramp up the power over the course of the session.

"You have parc ferme when the cars leave for qualifying," he told Sky Sports, "maybe engine modes should be the same from the moment you leave the garage to the end of the grand prix.

"Lewis' time came predominantly between Q2 and Q3," he added. "They have a qualy mode that they don't need to use in the earlier parts of qualifying, because why stress the engine?"

Ignoring the fact that last month the FIA issued a directive aimed at ensuring customer teams have engine performance parity with works teams, Horner points to the obvious disparity between the Renault engine and its rivals.

"You only have to look at Saturday's speed traps where all the Renault engines were grouped together with varying amounts of downforce on the car," he said. "That is where we need to make progress.

"There are bits in the pipeline," he added. "Renault are not divulging everything that they're up to but it's certainly something that we're pushing for."

Though Max Verstappen was 0.715s down on Hamilton in qualifying and Ricciardo 0.988s, the Australian went on to post the fastest lap of the race.

"We got one lap in clean air in the grand prix to judge our pace on which Daniel set the fastest lap," said Horner. "I think we have a quick race car, it's just unfortunate on this track not to be able to use it.

"Taking the positives out of the weekend, it's the first time in the hybrid era we have got two cars to the finish. We got the fastest lap of the race, and that wasn't through putting a set of ultrasofts on, it was genuine pace. I think we have a quick race car.

"The negative for us is still the deficit in qualifying," he concluded. "The party mode... we'd like to go to Lewis' party."

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Published: 27/03/2018
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