Mercedes and Ferrari 'not trying to thwart Volkswagen entry'

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13 and Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75 battle for position. 03.07.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, Race
© XPB 

Mercedes and Ferrari officials have denied trying to make things difficult for Volkswagen, which is seeking to enter Formula 1 with its Audi and Porsche brands in 2026.

The manufacturer is planning to join the sport when new engine regulations come into effect. But confirmation and an official announcement is on hold pending the finalisation of the 2026 rules.

At the start of the month, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner indicated that an announcement was expected in the coming week, while his Alpine counterpart Otmar Szafnauer stated that the “big things have been decided”.

But the Austrian Grand Prix the following weekend came and went, and there has still been no official word from the FIA or F1 about where things stand with the regulations.

It's raised suggestions that Mercedes and Ferrari might be deliberately delaying the final sign-off of the 2026 specifications in order to frustrate Volkswagen.

Both teams are known to have concerns about how Audi and Porsche's entry might 'dilute the product'. But both Toto Wolff and Mattia Binotto denied that they were intentionally holding things up.

"On the contrary we don’t want to delay those regulations but we want to have them in place,” Wolff insisted.

The Mercedes team principal pointed out that the agreement to drop the expensive MGU-H from the package had been done expressly to open the sport up to new manufacturers like Volkswagen.

Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director and Mattia Binotto (ITA) Ferrari Team Principal on the FIA Press Conference. 09.07.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, Austrian Grand Prix, Spielberg, Austria, Sprint

“We have given the [MGU-]H, which was a massive thing to accommodate the newcomers," he said. “We’ve made big steps towards them.

"Let’s make those final steps on the regulations. It’s more the detail and it doesn’t matter if we discuss 50 dyno hours up and down for a newcomer.

“This is an environment where regulations will change all the time so you can’t make it regulation-dependent," he added.

Wolff suggested that Volkswagen itself was also dragging its feet.

"It was said to us that by the end of [2021] we would have the confirmation they are joining the party. That confirmation hasn’t been given until today. I don’t know why.

"They have been sitting at the table negotiating those regulations since a while but not committed yet," he said. “But we’d like to have them as part of the show."

Ferrari's Mattia Binotto agreed with Wolff about wanting to see Audi and Porsche in the sport, while adding that there were still points about the new regulations that needed to be resolved.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13 and Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari F1-75 head to the grid. 10.04.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Race

“We are very positive that Audi and Porsche are joining F1," he said. “We are very positive because it’s great for F1. It’s great having more manufacturers and it’s great to have VW Group within our business and our F1 racing championship.

"I think we have done whatever we could to try to adapt to make sure they were happy. We removed the [MGU-]H, we did it only to try to help them joining F1.

"For us, removing the [MGU-]H is something which is not maybe the best choice," he added. “It’s a compromise because it’s a technology we know pretty well. It’s a very high efficiency technology, which is great for F1.

"I think overall, again, we are very positive and constructive," he insisted. “So now, why is taking so long? Because it is the time which is required to do these things properly.

"Simply we are not ready right now. Not only us as current manufacturers but the FIA, because they are the ones who are leading the discussions.

“And as well, I think, for Audi and Porsche, the current regulations are not ready yet. They are still open points. And those open points simply need to be tackled and discussed and agreed.”

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