Ferrari engine idea would be 'beginning of the end' for F1, says Merc boss Wolff

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says it would be the "beginning of the end" for Formula One if the series adopts Ferrari's suggestion to introduce a method of engine performance convergence from 2022 onwards.

The controversial topic has been put forward by Ferrari as a condition for its agreement to a freeze in engine development from 2022 to 2025.

The freeze is essential for Red Bull, which hopes to buy Honda's engine design and continue to use it when the Japanese manufacturer leaves F1. Red Bull does not have the resources or the factory to continue to develop the engine when Honda leaves, but a freeze in development would allow it to buy the intellectual property and continue to build and use the engines.

Ferrari, which is currently lagging behind in engine performance compared to its rivals, initially rejected Red Bull's idea of a development freeze, but now says it would agree to it if there is a mechanism to allow struggling manufacturers to catch up under the freeze.

However, Mercedes and Renault are not willing to accept the convergence idea, with Wolff saying it simply wouldn't work.

"I think this would be the beginning of the end [for Formula One]," Wolff said on a video conference with journalists on Saturday night. "The power unit is not only measured by sheer max power, but it is subject to drivability, to weight, to cooling, so introducing a simple formula that fits all isn't possible and is not something Mercedes will endorse."

Speaking on Friday, Binotto insisted a convergence system would not necessarily result in making all engines equal and rejected the suggestion it would amount to a balance of performance mechanism similar to those used in sports car racing.

"I don't think it is balance of performance as I don't think that the aim or objective is to somehow bring all the manufacturers to the same level of performance," he said. "That's not the case.

"That's why I call it engine convergence or power unit convergence, as it's only a way of trying to help a manufacturer, which is really down in terms of performance compared to the others. But I don't think if we are helping that manufacturer, we should bring him to the be the best manufacturer of all, so he should somehow try to catch up at a lower level compared to the others but somehow not too distant.

"How can we do that? I think that's part of the open discussion we have got today. I don't there is a solution. Certainly the easiest one is by managing or adapting the fuel flow but I don't think that there is a conclusion yet, it is all part of the discussion we are having."

Ferrari's current lack of performance is rooted in an investigation into its power unit over the winter that resulted in a series of rule clarifications from F1's governing body, the FIA, that clearly hit Ferrari hardest. Wolff said a system that then helps Ferrari catch up with the rest of the field would be "humiliating" for the Italian manufacturer.

"Some of our colleagues have come back with a system of convergence, which honestly said is a bit of an insult," Wolff added. "When you look at the last three years and the development of the performance of the engines, Ferrari was clearly the most powerful engine in 2018 and by far the best in 2019, and we developed our engine and continued to push the boundaries and brought something to the track in 2020 that we were hoping would catch up.

"That's why I cannot comprehend that any car manufacturer that trusts in his ability to develop a power unit and a chassis would want some kind of mechanism that would balance the power unit result. I don't think that anybody would accept such a humiliation in public.

"Formula One must stay very far away from that otherwise we end up like GT racing where you design power units for the sole topic of manipulating the system."