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Pushing engines to the limit makes 'no difference' to racing - Cowell

Mercedes' engine chief Andy Cowell

Andy Cowell insists that removing engine constraints to allow drivers to always push to the limit wouldn't actually improve on-track action.

"I don't think it would make any difference," the managing director of Mercedes AMG high performance powertrains told RACER magazine.

"The relative performance I suspect would be exactly the same as it was in Abu Dhabi. All that would happen would be that costs would go up."

Drivers currently have to take great care not to over-tax their engine units during the season. Some teams have even started limiting the amount of running time in practice sessions.

The situation will only get more tense in 2018, when the number of power units available to teams drops from four to three. Any more than that and they get hit by grid penalties.

"If it was one engine for Saturday and Sunday, and you've only got to do 600km, then we'd be running flat-out for longer," said Cowell. "But our safety margin to our vulnerabilities would be the same.

"The risk of failure would be largely the same," he explained. "You'd run it [the engine] hotter so the cooling on the car could be less. And that very quickly gets you into trouble and bits start failing.

"We'd still be sat down with Lewis saying, 'Whoa, you know what? Here's a vulnerability when we run like this.'"

Cowell accepted that the ever-tightening limits on the number of power units had been purely to keep costs under control for manufacturers

"The whole reason for going to four last year and then three this year was purely that financial cost of production, and therefore the cost involved in supplying to a customer team.

"There are more customer teams than there are works teams," he pointed out. "So that's the reason why. And it is a very effective way of doing it.

"It has had a very positive impact on the financial situation," he added.

Even so, Cowell is no fan of the new three-engine limit being introduced this season.

"It's crazy," he said. "The manufacturers will have to virtually redo many parts ... That's a huge cost that the manufacturers will not be able to recover."

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