Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team principal, Toto Wolff, believes that Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault, and Honda all now have equal outright performance as we head into the seventh season of the hybrid era.
Wolff’s Mercedes started the generation in 2014 as the clear leaders in performance, with the team winning every drivers and constructors championship since, but with lesser dominance as the years went on. Starting in 2017, Ferrari managed to unlock some performance and put up strong title challenges in the hands of Sebastian Vettel.
Renault has been making steady gains since returning to the sport in 2016, and have vastly improved the reliability that dogged Red Bull since 2014. The Milton Keynes based squad has since moved to Honda power in 2019, and made accelerated progress in the power stakes, and appear to have the most powerful engine on the grid now with a reputed 1000 bhp + power unit at the latter end of the year.
“Last year, for example, Ferrari had a much stronger engine than we had. Maybe this year too, but we haven’t seen that yet. In qualifying and in the race, everyone will really show how good they really are.
“I always look at it a bit pessimistic, from the idea that we have to make up for a backlog. At the end of the day, we have to come up with a reliable and strong engine and then hope it’s good enough. I wouldn’t rule out Honda and Renault either. I think all engine suppliers are now at about the same level.” explained Wolff.
The 2020 season will finally begin in just two weeks on the weekend of the 3-5 July at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. The first eight races have been announced, formally confirming world championship status. With little running since the pre-season test in March at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Toto Wolff is remaining skeptical about engine reliability.
“The new calendar and the corona crisis present great challenges for all of us. For example, reliability is going to be a crucial aspect in those first few races. The cars come straight out of Australia’s containers and we also have little time to run things around the test benches, so we really have to make the most of every session.” said Wolff.