NOVEMBER 4, 2014
Mercedes close to agreeing engine unfreeze
Talks over a touted engine 'unfreeze' for the 2015 season appear to have taken a dramatic turn.
On Monday, media reports in Italy suggested Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault may have pulled off a political masterstroke over the US GP weekend by convincing F1's dominant force Mercedes to agree to the relaxing of the engine homologation rules.
That is despite Mercedes chiefs Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda respectively describing the proposals as "nonsense" and "irrational", as it drives up costs and unfairly attacks the German squad for performing best under the new rules.
But now Italy's La Repubblica is also reporting that Mercedes "has agreed to a compromise" over the engine freeze, which currently dictates that manufacturers may modify 48 per cent of the engine but have it re-frozen before the start of the 2015 season.
"Finally," read the report, "thanks to pressure from (Bernie) Ecclestone and the FIA, the Germans gave in."
La Repubblica cautioned that the compromise, while agreed by the Brackley team, will now have to be approved by Mercedes' paymasters in Stuttgart.
Ferrari boss Marco Mattiacci said: "At the meeting on Saturday, Mercedes said it was willing to compromise.
"But I do not feel like saying the matter is closed now, because Mercedes had already declared its willingness before and then changed its mind."
However, Mattiacci thanked Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda for at least "putting everyone around a table to discuss" the issue.
Other reports suggest the 'unfreeze' will now mean that manufacturers' 2015 designs will not be locked in until July next year.
Christian Horner, the boss of Renault's works team Red Bull, confirmed: "Mercedes have accepted that they need to provide a window of opportunity to the others to introduce competition.
"They participated in a discussion, so they haven't actually agreed to anything as yet, but there was a very constructive discussion which hopefully will see a solution in place in the very near future," he added.