Bernie Ecclestone warns Mercedes' domination could continue for three years
Merc "left everyone behind and I can't see people catching up quickly"
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 22/01/15 5:13pm
Bernie Ecclestone fears it may be three more years before Mercedes' current domination of F1 ends, with the sport's chief describing an agreement on a change of engine format as his one wish for 2015.
F1 is currently gearing up its second season of running with turbo V6 power units following a dramatic change to the regulations. After Red Bull dominated the end of the previous era, it was Mercedes who established a big initial advantage last year as their new V6 unit proved the class of the field, a power advantage which provided the platform for their works team to dominate the season and win both World Championship titles.
Mercedes' rivals are once more expecting an uphill challenge in 2015 and Ecclestone, who has made no secret of his disdain of the new complex, quieter engines, cannot see how the Brackley outfit can be challenged in the short-term unless the rules are changed again.
"I'd like to see the engine formula changed. If you said to me I have a wish, that's what I’d wish for," he told Sky Sports News HQ's Craig Slater in an exclusive interview.
"Mercedes have done such a good job with this power unit it’s left everyone behind and I can’t see people catching up that quickly.
"Maybe in three years - we can’t afford to wait three years. Or two years or one year."
Ecclestone is therefore fully expecting reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton to make it back-to-back titles. "Whether he is [my title favourite] or not, I think he’s going to win it," he predicted.
Prior to the discovery of a loophole in the 2015 regulations which will allow manufacturers to continue updating their engines during the season this year, Mercedes had resisted calls from their rival teams to relax the rules, arguing that it would only serve to push up costs.
"This whole business revolves around regulations so if we could have changed the regulations, we would have changed them. But we need agreement from all teams that have entered the championship - and they won't," Ecclestone added.
"If you were running Mercedes, the last thing you'd want to do is change."
McLaren's suppliers Honda were initially set to be excluded from the loophole owing to their status as a newcomer and Ecclestone hinted he personally intervened into the situation to ensure the Japanese firm wouldn't be unduly disadvantaged.
"Again, it was the regulations that caused trouble because they were the new kids on the block. We went through this with the FIA and I said we have to look at them a little bit different otherwise we won’t have any more new teams come in," the 84-year-old added.
Ahead of a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group in December, the F1 supremo suggested he would float a return to normally aspirated engines with some associated hybrid technology for the 2016 season.
Amid suggestions that the spectacle of the sport could be improved by increasing the power of the cars to 1,000bhp in future, Ecclestone insists the V6 power unit in its current guise is not exciting enough for fans.
"I think, genuinely, if it was possible for these engines to produce what the V8s used to produce, that is what would happen. But it’s not possible with this power unit," he said.
"It’s a magical piece of engineering but in my opinion it’s not what the public really worry about. They want to see good racing and preferably with a lot of noise."
The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary of all three winter tests, starting in Jerez on Sunday February 1, with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News HQ.