F1 risks “catastrophe” if engine move ends up in BOP, warns Wolff

Formula 1 risks “catastrophe” if any moves to equalise engines ends up in Balance of Performance approach, warns Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. 

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

As Autosport revealed last week, the FIA tabled discussions at this weekend’s F1 Commission meeting to evaluate whether action needed to be taken in balancing the performance of engines  to help out Alpine supplier Renault. 

It is understood that the Renault engine could be as much as 30hp down on the best of the opposition, with no prospect of closing the gap because of F1’s engine freeze. 

The matter has now been passed to F1’s Power Unit Advisory Committee for it to evaluate what needs to done and close what it says is a ‘notable’ gap. 

The last time the F1 engine equalisation topic came up, the FIA suggested that the best way to deal with it was to peg back the performance of the top power  units to make them equal, rather than help out anyone who had fallen behind. 

But as the evaluation process begins, Wolff has made it clear that any actions that would impact the performance of everyone would ‘bankrupt’ F1’s meritocracy. 

“Entertainment follows sport, and why the sport is so credible is because you have just got to work hard to be successful,” explained Wolff. 

“If you're falling back as an engine supplier, and your engine isn't as performant as others, that's obviously everybody's problem. But at the same time, with a frozen engine, we don’t want to lose out on giving someone opportunities.  

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“But it needs to be done in a meritocratic way. And, for that, we have a rule in the 2026 power unit regulations that if one powerunit will drop out of 3% below the top power unit, then the teams would sit down in good faith and debate what could be done.  

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“And once we have a common understanding of what the lack of performance is, we need to discuss how much more dyno hours and [development] jokers can be given. And that is something that we are to debate.  

“But touching any kind of fuel flow, or BOP, is a catastrophe and bankruptcy declaration for F1. It should never even be talked about.” 

Alpine is open that it is behind rivals in the power stakes, and the equalisation push is important because of the limitations imposed by the cost cap. 

Alpine’s interim team principal Bruno Famin said at Spa: “The engine is a bit behind for sure. It is a fact that the engine is in a frozen period, and we cannot develop performance.” 

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