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Three-engine rule won't compromise power - Cowell

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Mercedes power unit boss Andy Cowell says this season's restrictive three-engine rule won't have any impact on the manufacturer's quest for power.

F1 teams will only be allowed to use three power units this year before grid penalties kick in, one engine less than in 2017.

Andy Cowell, Mercedes' head of High Performance Powertrains, sees the move simply as another gradual engineering step in the lifespan of its engines, a trend which started back in 2004 with the introduction of F1's one-engine-per-weekend rule.

"The move to the three engines means that you need to do seven races with each power unit, rather than five," Cowell told Motorsport.com.

"That's a reasonable step forward, but for the last 10 years every single engine engineer has had a progressively increasing life requirement from everything that he or she's been working on, and so it's not a new science, it's just a different number.

"We had qualifying engines when they were permitted but we then said no that's ridiculous to have a qualifying engine and then fit a race engine, it's going to be the same spec of engine throughout a race weekend. That was the first time.

"That's the point where you have to balance off qualifying performance and race durability.

"Then we said it was two race weekends and then we said it's eight engines per driver and then we said it's five power units per driver, because KERS was completely free, and it's all done for cost."

The new restriction hasn't hindered Mercedes quest for power however, with Cowell recently revealing that the manufacturer was closing in on the impressive 1000bhp mark.

The British engineers underlined however the need for a fine balance between a unit's sheer output and its all-important reliability.

"It's what the engineers have completely accustomed to managing and our ambition is always to not compromise our qualifying pace, nor our race pace but not have a DNF or need a grid penalty," he added.

"In some areas it's a balance between raw power and life, in other areas it's battle between raw power and mass."

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