Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner has called for the FIA to take action over apparent disparity in engine power outputs in Formula 1 amid fears Mercedes’ current dominance will hurt the sport.
The former championship-winning team has suffered a dramatic fall in grace since the switch to the new turbo-hybrid power unit regulations in 2014, and its woes have continued into the second year with lead driver Daniel Ricciardo finishing a lapped sixth in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix. Reigning champions Mercedes, meanwhile, seemingly increased their dominance, cruising to a one-two finish in the opening round of the season in Melbourne.
Horner estimates Mercedes’ engine currently has 100bhp more than Renault.
Horner’s comments come despite his outfit having its own period of dominance in the sport between 2010-2013, where it swept to four successive Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship crowns – two of those seasons saw the team claim a record number of wins as they crushed the opposition.
Curiously, Horner doesn’t see the parallel between then and now, and has instead cited a number of examples where – he claims – the FIA altered the rules to negate his team’s advantage over the rest of the field.
“When we were winning, and we never were winning to the advantage that [Mercedes] have, I remember double diffusers were banned, exhausts were moved, flexible bodywork was prohibited, engine mapping mid-season was changed; anything was done [to bring Red Bull back to the field],” he after the Australian Grand Prix – all examples listed are situations where Red Bull (or another team, subsequently copied by Red Bull) exploited a loophole in the regulations which the FIA subsequently closed.
“And that wasn’t unique to Red Bull. Whether it was Williams in previous years or McLaren, etc, etc. The FIA within the rules have an equalisation mechanism and I think that’s something they need to have a look at. I would fear that [fan] interest will wane,” he added, when asked of the potential consequences of the current domination continuing.
“I didn’t see much of Mercedes on the TV this afternoon and I can only image that was because it’s not interesting watching a procession. The highlight for me was seeing Arnie (Arnold Schwarzenegger) on the podium. The FIA have a torque sensor on every engine. They have a power output that they can see which every power unit is producing.
“They have the facts. They could quite easily come up with some form of equalisation.”
While Horner’s criticisms met with limited support, his complaints were predictably shot down by those in the Mercedes camp.
“If you come into Formula One, try to beat each other and perform at the highest level and then you need equalisation after the first race – you cry out after the first race – that’s not how we’ve done things in the past. I think just get your f***ing head down, work hard and try to sort it out,” Mercedes motorsport boss, Toto Wolff, replied.
Image via Red Bull Racing