Mercedes and Ferrari agree power unit convergence is inevitable

Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Mercedes' chief designer Aldo Costa says it is inevitable power unit performance will even out between manufacturers in the next few years.

When the current V6 turbo regulations were introduced in 2014, Mercedes stole a march on its competition and still holds a sizeable advantage over Renault and Honda. Ferrari has closed the gap considerably in the last two years and Costa believes it is only a matter of time before all four manufacturers are capable of delivering similar performance.

"We have seen the situation was converging in this last three years and we see a lot of activity from the competitors," he said. "We think they are closer and closer and we are in a situation where the difference between powertrains is effectively less and less. We think it will still carry on because the formula is a fixed formula and it is inevitable it will have this situation, so yeah, we are going in the correct direction."

Earlier this year a new engine agreement was reached with the FIA to keep the same power units until 2020 and encourage performance convergence between manufacturers. Under the agreement, the controversial engine token system will be ditched next year -- effectively lifting restrictions on performance upgrades -- and restrictions on the materials and minimum weights of certain components should prevent excessive development in niche areas.

Ferrari's new chief technical officer Mattia Binotto, who oversaw the power unit side of the team until his recent promotion, believes it is already hard to distinguish whether Mercedes' advantage is actually a result of its power unit or its chassis.

"Performance-wise, [engine] manufacturers are converging. I think that when you're at a certain stage of convergence it becomes even difficult to split the affect from powertrain to chassis and aero. I think that it means so far, at the moment, we are really close and the difference is not any more as it was in the past."