Ferrari is no longer on a par with Mercedes in terms of engine output, having seen its unit's performance reined in by a confidential settlement with the FIA following suspicions of non-conformity that emerged a year ago regarding the Italian outfit's engine. Meanwhile, Mercedes has made a significant step with its engine performance, suggesting any change to the rules would handicap Mercedes and level the playing field among all engine manufacturers.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) confirmed ahead of tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix that the 10 teams had been informed a change was being evaluated. "So, for us, it won't change anything".
The move is seen as a slap in the face for the Mercedes-powered teams, who typically gain the most from special qualifying engine modes.
Six times world champion Hamilton was 0.039 slower with Red Bull's Max Verstappen - now second overall after winning at Silverstone to end Mercedes' opening run of success - third fastest but 0.939 off the Finn's pace.
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"The guys at our team have just done such a good job with the engine", he added. I think we are quite strong as a team but again, the main thing is Sunday and with these temperatures, how will they hit the tyres given the conditions. "But that's totally fine if they do".
Teams use various engine modes throughout a race weekend, but often have special "qualifying modes", which turn the engine up to the absolute maximum for a couple of laps, but these modes can not be run for long periods of time and therefore aren't run during a race.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who drives a Honda-powered vehicle and is Hamilton's closest rival in the championship, said it was a logical step in the regulations.
"I mean it's not a surprise - they're always trying to slow us down", Hamilton said.
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"The morning session was good, maybe a bit better for me than the afternoon", said Bottas.
Ferrari needs all the help it can get to help it surmount its current slump, so a ban on qualifying engine modes is good news for Charles Leclerc.
"To be honest, on our side I don't think it will affect us so much", he said. But for us, I can say that we don't have anything different from qualifying to the race.
"How much will it be beneficial?"
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