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Wolff: McLaren to give Honda Merc data

2014-05-06 10:02

CONCERNED MERCEDES: F1 driver Nico Rosberg in action at the 2014 Chinese GP. Image: AP

LONDON, England - Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff suspects McLaren will pass on knowledge about Mercedes' turbo/hybrid V6 'power unit' to its 2015 engine supplier Honda.

Through 2014 Mercedes is in the awkward situation of being contractually bound to supply its industry-leading new technology to McLaren, while knowing the British team is already setting up its new works relationship with Honda.

When asked by Germany's Auto Motor and Sport magazine how much information about Mercedes had already passed to Japan, McLaren team principal Eric Boullier smiled and insisted: "Nothing!"

INFORMATION EXCHANGE

Indeed, correspondent Tobias Gruner insisted Mercedes was "using every means" to prevent Honda from learning from McLaren's final year (2014) with Mercedes, but Wolff admitted: "I'm convinced that what McLaren learns is being exchanged with Honda in the context of what is allowed."

Wolff said McLaren's own telemetry would allow Honda engineers to see information about things such as torque, power delivery and driveability "and what is needed for cooling, hydraulics, electronics - all these things are of course passed on".

Wolff said he trusted McLaren - famously fined $100-million (R1-billion) by the International Automobile Federation for the 2007 'spygate' scandal - to stick to what is allowed as it moves from Mercedes to Honda power.

He added: "We have a very clear understanding of what can be disclosed and what cannot but I am convinced that Honda acknowledges the partnership and the confidentiality that they enjoy as a client."

Wolff also acknowledged that even the transfer of some information would not overcome Honda's inherent "disadvantage" of only returning to Formula 1 in 2015.

"Honda has a natural disadvantage," he said, "because it is coming into the sport when everybody else has already been there (in the V6 era) for a year."

At the same time, he thought rivals Ferrari and Renault would be closer to Mercedes in 2015. "Our concepts are very different," said Wolff, "but the others will certainly catch up a lot because they have information about how our engine runs when they see it on the track.

"In 2015 the field will automatically be closer."

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 Spanish F1 GP weekend.

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