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Formula 1

Every F1 driver’s verdict on the quali engine mode ban

by Matt Beer
9 min read

Following the news that the FIA has informed teams of its intention to issue a technical directive that would effectively outlaw qualifying engine modes for the Belgian Grand Prix in two week’s time, The Race asked all 20 drivers for their reaction.

Here is what each and every driver said in response.


Charles Leclerc Ferrari Silverstone 2020


To be honest I don’t think it will affect us so much so I think it can only be positive for us. Then how much it will be beneficial, it’s still to see but for us we don’t have anything different from quali to the race so for us it won’t change everything.

Would you support it?

Yes, as they are probably doing that for a reason. So yes, I do.


It doesn’t affect us this season, so let’s wait and see what happens. I think it always depends what you are able to pull off, if you have something developed or in your engine that you can probably run a certain amount of mileage with more power or stress on the engine it’s probably not the best news, but from where we are right now as Charles said it doesn’t affect us.

But it might affect rivals?

That’s what I mean. So I guess depending on how much it makes a difference to you, you are either happy or not happy. Pretty simple.


We don’t have them [qualifying modes] so it makes no difference to us! But obviously we can see that if you take practice, what happens then in qualifying always seems to take quite a big hit behind the others, they seem to have a lot of straightline speed suddenly but that’s out of our hands, we have what we have and we try to make the best out of it. So we’ll see what comes.


It’s something that we see after FP3 and going into qualifying that on the straights some teams gain so much and that will be something for us to have a little bit more of a better situation.

But we’ll see if it will happen or not. For us, it will not change much but hopefully we can be a little bit closer to the midfield.


Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Silverstone 2020


It’s not a surprise. They’re always trying to slow us down, but it doesn’t really change a huge amount for us so it’s not a problem. At end of the day, the guys at our team have just done such a great job with the engine. As I told you, it’s obviously to slow us down, but I don’t think it’s going to get the result that they want. But totally fine if they do, to slow us, but [it] won’t work.


I’m not aware of that information so I can’t really comment on it, but I think that’d be a shame.

Formula 1 is all about operating at the maximum capacity of the car and the engine. I think we want to see all the engine manufacturers and the teams, the car, development, push the limits. So no, I don’t think that would be nice to see.


I don’t know when is that happening, I thought it was only for next year?

It’s potentially for Spa

Potentially… Let’s see if that happens.


Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Silverstone 2020


I think it will be a shame because obviously F1 is always pushing the limit and trying to be as efficient as possible. We always try to be as fast as we can as drivers and I think also on their side, teams are pushing the limit of the car all the time.

I don’t think it really goes in that direction on the engine side, ultimately slightly less power during qualifying. On my side, I would rather have the full beans the whole time and the way you push the engine in qualifying is different from what you do in the race. It would be a shame to have a drop of performance on Saturday.


I missed that headline, that’s the first I’ve heard. My initial answer is no [I don’t welcome it] because I like going all out on Saturday and I think that’s what qualifying is really for. But if there’s more to it then I probably won’t answer too much more.

The thought of going fast and even from a pure performance point of view for an F1 car to be singing as loud as it can on one lap, and for the engine guys to be trying to squeeze everything, I think that’s also cool. So that concept I love. I don’t think I want that to be changed but I’d better find out more!


It’s the first time I hear it, so as surprised as he [Ricciardo] is! But I would join him on that, I think it’s cool to have a pure one lap exercise in qualifying like we have now – full beans, new set of tyres and push.

We have enough to think about in the race that qualifying is a cool exercise. So, I would probably prefer to keep it the way it is now.


I’d be disappointed to see it lost. I think for every engine manufacturer you’ve got a boost for qualifying, you have got the lowest amount of fuel you have for the whole weekend, you’ve got the fastest engine mode, you’re the most pumped up for that lap you’re about to approach so everything just feels like a little bit extra and it allows you just to extract that little bit more for from the car.

It’s such an exciting part of the weekend. It’s normal in life, like a runner if it’s only a 100m race, you can sprint throughout that. If you’re in a marathon, you’ve got to take it easy for the duration. It’s the same with an engine, you’ve got that one lap, give it full beans then just tune it down for the race. I’d be disappointed to see it gone.


I think George summed it up pretty good. I’m in agreement. [The power increase] definitely is noticeable, you feel the engine is just a bit more punchy. Obviously, you’re using the full deployment of the battery as well so you’re ending with nothing left. So it’s pump yourself up going into the lap and you feel the extra boost that you get, so it would be a shame to lose that part of it.


Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Silverstone 2020


It’s impossible to know with other engine manufacturers how much they can actually gain when they kind of put it all out in qualifying and if we’re actually getting any more or not. We’re not panicking about it. If that rule comes it’s the same for everyone.

The first thing that came to my mind was that in races, because every team has different modes, how much they want to risk in terms of wearing the engine and sometimes when they can – and also for us – we can save the engine if we have margin. And also, in terms of strategic things in the race for drivers, many times we’re using different kind of modes, whether we are defending, attacking.

So, from my side it feels like if it would be same engine mode for everyone all through the race, I think there would be less overtaking because everyone is just running same modes instead of playing with them and trying to maximise every situation, sometimes using more power sometimes less. In the end, it could be less things for us to do while driving.


Every engine manufacturer has different modes and so on, some have a lot more than others so it’s probably going to be a very difficult thing to police with how many variables there are in Formula 1 nowadays with the battery in the power unit and so on.

It’s very difficult to say. I think it’s going to benefit some people more than others, I don’t know if it’s going to benefit us more or less than other teams but at the same time, I think it takes away that rawness of, you know, a team’s doing better, they’ve done a better job, they deserve to have the advantage that they got. So I guess it’s only good if it’s going to be benefiting you because your package maybe isn’t as good as someone else.


For one side, it’s a good idea to keep everything a bit more consistent and more predictable for the fans. And for us, as teams, it’s very tough to predict the swing of performance gains in all the teams so it will be one less thing for the engineers and the strategists.

But on the other hand, if that makes some teams slower and it slows down the lap times I’m also a bit hesitant because I just want Formula 1 cars to be as fast as they can be and you are taking out performance. Probably around Spa it could be a big chunk of lap time. I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it too much to be honest, I have those two opinions up here [points to brain] but I haven’t really thought about it too much.


To be 100% honest I just read on Twitter about the new rule and haven’t discussed with any of the engineers the impact that we think it may have. I know what we have between practice, quali and race, I don’t know what the others have. So it’s difficult to answer right now. Obviously, yes, when there’s a new rule coming in you always hope it’s going to be going into your favour rather than the other way around. I guess we wait and see for Spa.

If it was down to me I would go back to the KERS time, where you would have 100% of battery for the lap and you can use it as you want it to defend or attack. That was quite cool to just be able to use your energy as you want it. When the drivers get some say on if he wants to defend or to attack, it’s pretty cool. But we know what difference it is going make to us, I don’t know what it’s going to make to the others.


I mean, the only reason we don’t run full power the whole time is reliability. What matters to us is how competitive you are, I guess that’s the end of it. Sometimes, when you turn engines up and down it can it can mix up your braking points and entry speeds to different corners and as a driver it would be nice if you just had the same power the whole weekend.

But the main thing is to be competitive I guess and that’s what you look at when you try to put as much power from the engine as you can. So if you are only allowed to run one single engine map the whole weekend, I think you would probably limit running in practice, and so on. That’s my guess but we’ll see.


Max Verstappen


In in a way, maybe it’s good because we are not really allowed to touch the car after qualifying except those kind of things with engine modes. So probably, if you want to go down that route by not touching the car then I think it’s good that you maybe get rid of that as well.

Where does the Mercedes advantage have the biggest impact?

I think every weekend has been a bit different, sometimes a bit more top speed where then we are maybe a bit more competitive in corners compared to some other tracks. Even between Silverstone the two weeks was different. So, it’s difficult to say because you run different kind of downforce levels between the teams as well.

Clearly also in qualifying they have quite a strong qualifying mode. But, from our side, we know that we can do better on the car side and we know that also we need a bit more power. So we just need to focus on that.


I don’t really know to be honest, I haven’t followed this story very well so I don’t know what’s behind it and what kind of effect it can have on qualifying and the race in the future. So I wouldn’t have much to say regarding this.

But I guess if people want to do something there is so idea behind it, so they know what’s behind it better.

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