Significant differences between the engines used in Formula 1 racing are preventing honest competition in elite racing, according to novice Dutch driver Max Verstappen. “Right now it’s mostly a championship of engines”, the 18-year-old driver tells NRC, looking back at his successful first year in the league.
“Mercedes has done a much better job than Renault and Honda”, says Verstappen. “But we need to consider the interest of the sport. This has to end.”
The gap in engine power between top team Mercedes and the other racing teams turned out to be significant once again this past season, although Ferrari did manage to land on the podium several times. It was evident that Red Bull and Toro Rosso, the talented team Verstappen drives for, simply lacked horse power on the straights. “A gap of 20 or 30 horsepower can be bridged with a good car”, says Verstappen, who made an impression this year with spectacular passing maneuvers. “But 80 to 90 horse power? That adds up to a second per loop.”
The Dutchman residing in Monaco argues that the major factory teams should not be allowed to continually develop their engines, leaving behind the smaller teams with less financial purchasing power.
Verstappen does expect Mercedes and returning champion Louis Hamilton to come out strong again in the next season. His own team, Toro Rosso, will be using a 2015 Ferrari engine, with significantly more raw power than the Renault engine used during the past season. Meanwhile, Verstappen is physically preparing for the 2017 season, too. He is under contract with Toro Rosso for another two years, and expects faster engines with more power once more after next season.
“In 2017 we’ll have a chance to break records with five, six seconds per loop. When you take the turns that much faster, the G-forces will be more intense as well.”
(Translation by Diederik van Hoogstraten)