Hamilton, Bottas and Russell comment on the “party mode” ban

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Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes junior driver George Russell give their comments on the new directive that bans the use of multiple engine modes during a race weekend.

The FIA’s new directive banning teams from using a special engine mode during qualifying will come into effect during this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix. It is thought to have been instituted to prevent Mercedes from using their qualifying “party mode”.

Lewis Hamilton finds the FIA’s efforts to slow Mercedes down “quite amusing”.

“All I can say is I’m really proud of my guys because we obviously did a great job,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.

“I don’t know who called it party mode, but everyone has a party mode, basically. You go through qualifying you have multiple settings, you go through practice you have multiple [settings], and when you get to the end of qualifying you generally try to use the most powerful, which you can’t use all the time.

“What’s crazy is this switch, they’ve said it’s for one reason and then you’ve got Red Bull who came out and said ‘no, no, we were going after them to hold them back!’

“So someone is not telling the truth! All we can do is just smile and keep working hard. That’s what we’ll do. I think [it] is a compliment at the end of the day.”

During the Italian Grand Prix Thursday press conference Hamilton said he finds the whole deal “quite amusing” and went on to explain how big of an impact the ban will have on the team’s performance.

“It affects qualifying a little bit but not massively. It does change things for the race. You should be in a stronger mode for a lot longer so it should be a faster race.

“But reliability is not given so maybe it’ll push people reliability-wise, so we’ve got to keep working on it,” concluded the Briton.

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Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas believes the reason for the ban could be jealousy from other teams.

“I don’t know what happens in the background and how the request and the idea for this actually came,” the Finn said.

“Maybe some people are jeolous we’ve done a great engine and with the car, and are doing a great job.

“I guess everyone will see this weekend, but I don’t think it’s really going to make a huge difference. We’re talking quite small numbers.

“For sure there is a small deficit in qualifying but actually maybe for our engine a small gain in the race. So it’s not so bad for us.”

Williams’ George Russell, who is also running a Mercedes engine (and is himself a part of Mercedes’ junior driver programme), thinks the ban will have a bigger effect on Mercedes customer teams than on the works team itself.

“I think unfortunately it will probably affect us and Racing Point more than Mercedes,” said Russell.

“Purely because Mercedes are so far ahead in qualifying anyway. If anything it’s only going to help them even more in the race.

“So the whole idea of trying to slow them down is actually going to go completely the opposite way and is only going to enhance their performance.

“I think on a Saturday it will probably compromise us a tenth or two. But we expect it to also compromise the other manufacturers a tenth or so. So we are probably net one-tenth down on a Saturday.

“But on a Sunday we’re definitely net up by a big margin. And I think what Mercedes have done to improve the engine to allow us to run a very high engine mode for the whole race is really impressive and she’s going to be flying on the Sundays.”

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