Threat to ban ‘party mode’ will not slow Mercedes down, insists Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has told Formula One’s sporting federation that its plan to slow him down will fail.

It emerged ahead of Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix that FIA secretary general Peter Bayer wrote to the teams telling them that a qualifying engine power boost may be outlawed after this weekend.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team have mastered the one-lap setting in recent times, with the Silver Arrows holding as much as an eye-watering one-second advantage over their rivals in qualifying.

Hamilton, who has referred to the high-performance engine setting as “party mode”, and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas have taken pole position at all five rounds this year.

But the FIA fears the complex engine modes are becoming too difficult to police. However, Hamilton believes it is a ploy to bring the field closer together.

Hamilton holds a 30-point championship lead over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ahead of the sixth round of the campaign here at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.

“It is not a surprise because they are always going to slow us down, but it doesn’t really change anything,” said the six-time world champion.

Asked if Mercedes had more to lose than their rivals if the rule is changed before the next round in Belgium, Hamilton replied: “No. The guys at our team have done such a great job with the engine.

Spain F1 GP Auto Racing
Spain F1 GP Auto Racing

“It is obviously to slow us down, but I don’t think they will get the result they want.”

Mercedes’ run of dominance came to an end at last weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone after Verstappen produced a fine win to provide hope that the season will not be dominated by one man.

Indeed, Verstappen could now prove the closest challenger to Hamilton for the title this year, a role once filled by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

But the four-time world champion arrived in northern Spain facing questions over his immediate future after he finished 12th last Sunday.

Vettel is a miserable 13th in the championship, 35 points and nine places behind team-mate Charles Leclerc.

Sebastian Vettel File Photo
Sebastian Vettel File Photo

The 33-year-old German, who will be kicked out of Ferrari at the end of the season, said he intends to serve out his final five months with the Italian team.

“All I can do is empathise with him and be understanding,” added Hamilton.

“It can never be a great feeling to be told you are not wanted, especially when you give the team your heart.

“The way he is still pushing and helping shows the great character he has and his commitment to racing. I hope something positive comes out of this year for him.”

Asked if he feared he could be turfed out by the Italian team before the season concludes, Vettel said: “I don’t think so. It hasn’t been considered or spoken about it. I guess it is not just a question for myself.

“I know what I’m aware of, I know the job that I can do, but at the moment it’s not been the cleanest run.”