Andy Cowell, the Managing Director of Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, believes the decision to reduce the allowed number of power units from four to three in 2018 is ‘crazy’, believing the reduction will have the opposite effect the FIA was hoping for.
Cowell is unsupportive of the move, despite the Mercedes-Benz power unit being one of the most reliable on the grid, mainly because the move to go down to three units will mean manufacturers will have to redo a number of their parts in order to offer as much reliability to their teams as possible.
“It’s crazy,” said Cowell to Italian publication Corriere dello Sport, “because the manufacturers will have to virtually redo many parts.
“We will build at least 80-100 engines and then test them on the bench and take the three or four that have the best reliability and power characteristics. That’s a huge cost that the manufacturers will not be able to recover.”
Cowell does not believe allowing drivers to go flat out for longer would necessarily make for better or closer racing, and all it could do is push costs up even further as the need for reliable components increase.
“I don’t think it would make any difference,” said Cowell to RACER. “The relative performance I suspect would be exactly the same as it was in Abu Dhabi. All that would happen would be that costs would go up.
“If it was one engine for Saturday and Sunday, and you’ve only got to do 600km, then we’d be running flat-out for longer. But our safety margin to our vulnerabilities would be the same.
“The risk of failure would be largely the same. You’d run it [the engine] hotter so the cooling on the car could be less. And that very quickly gets you into trouble and bits start failing.”
However, Cowell does believe that it was necessary for the three-engine regulation to be introduced for the benefit of the customer teams, which outnumber the works teams six to four, who do not have the kind of financial might of the manufacturers.
“The whole reason for going to four last year and then three this year was purely that financial cost of production, and therefore the cost involved in supplying to a customer team,” said Cowell.
“There are more customer teams than there are works teams. So that’s the reason why. And it is a very effective way of doing it. It has had a very positive impact on the financial situation.”