Mercedes would support engine freeze


Toto Wolff says Mercedes would support a freeze on engine development if it allows Red Bull to continue with Honda engines.

Despite buying Honda's IP being the only real option for Red Bull as it recovers from the shock news that the Japanese manufacturer is to quit the sport at the end of next season, team boss, Christian Horner and team consultant, Helmut Marko have both made clear that this would be dependent on there being a freeze on engine development.

"The more we look, there really only is one option that works," Horner told Sky Sports this weekend. "And that would be to try and agree something with Honda where we could take on the IP for the Honda engine, but of course that would have to be dependent on the regulations.

"It would only make sense for an independent engine supplier, as Red Bull would effectively be, if there was a freeze," he admitted. "It would be impossible to fund the kind of development spend that currently goes on with these engines."

"We would favour, provided the talks with Honda are positive, that we take over the IP rights and everything that is necessary, to then prepare and deploy the engines ourselves in Milton Keynes," Marko told Germany's Sport1 a week earlier.

"But this is only possible on condition that the engines are frozen by the first race in 2022 at the latest," he added. "We cannot afford further development, neither technically nor financially. That is a prerequisite."

While Mercedes has said that it does not have the capacity to provide Red Bull, Toto Wolff has offered hope to his Austrian rivals by saying he is in favour of such a freeze.

"I think Formula 1 is in a good state with three engine suppliers," he said. "I totally understand where Red Bull is coming from.

"They don't want to go back to a customer status," he continued. "They want to be a works team and they have the capability of tweaking it and maybe optimising it, and maybe there are a few things in the pipeline from Honda that are giving them confidence that there is more performance in the engine.

"I think we should be doing everything to give Red Bull that opportunity."

Referring to Horner and Marko's comments, he said: "I understand that they don't want to go into a spending war with all the other OEMs on developing engines. It's a sensible proposal. I'd like to support it.

"I think Red Bull is a tremendously important brand for Formula 1," he continued, "and we should do everything to keep the two teams in Formula 1 and help them with the option of having basically works status."

Asked if he thought Red Bull might have an ulterior motive in seeking the freeze, such as holding back the opposition, he said: "I think in Formula 1, everybody is trying to get the best deal, the best financial deal and best performance deal. This is the current position and I can live with either.

"I can live with them taking a customer engine or help to fund the Honda development programme or do it on their own," he added. "I am easy with either decision."

The F1 Commission meets on Monday, when it is expected that the freeze will be one of the issues up for discussion.

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Published: 25/10/2020
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