Lewis Hamilton believes a proposal to stop teams using qualifying-specific engine modes is aimed at slowing Mercedes down, but says it will not have the desired effect.
The FIA wrote to teams this week to notify them it is planning to outlaw high-power engine modes that are reserved for qualifying and very short bursts in the race. The change could be enacted by the next race at Spa-Francorchamps and would likely see teams required to use their qualifying engine settings for a certain percentage of the race.
Last year, Ferrari had a significant engine advantage in qualifying, but the team has since said that its superior power unit performance has been stripped away by amendments to the regulations over the winter. Meanwhile, Mercedes has made a significant step with its engine performance, suggesting any change to the rules would handicap Mercedes and level the playing field among all engine manufacturers.
"It's not a surprise, they're always trying to slow us down," Hamilton said ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix. "But it doesn't really change a huge amount for us so it's not a problem."
Mercedes has held a significant performance advantage in qualifying this year, which rivals suspect is linked to its use of high-power engine modes. But Hamilton does not think a change in regulations will peg Mercedes back.
"The guys at our team have just done such a good job with the engine," he added. "It's obviously to slow us down but I don't think it's going to get the result that they want. But that's totally fine if they do it."
The mid-season change would likely be tied to parc-ferme regulations, which require teams to run the same specification of parts in qualifying as they do in the race. The rule has been in place since 2003 and was aimed at stopping teams developing specific parts for qualifying alone.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who drives a Honda-powered car and is Hamilton's closest rival in the championship, said it was a logical step in the regulations.
"I think in a way maybe it's good as we are not really allowed to touch the car after qualifying, except those kind of things, engine modes," he said. "So probably if you want to go down that route anyway by not touching the car I think it's good you maybe get rid of that as well."
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc his car does not have a specific engine mode for qualifying.
"To be honest, on our side I don't think it will affect us so much," he said. "I think it can only be positive for us.
"How much will it be beneficial? It's still to be seen but for us, I can say we don't have anything different from quali to the race so for us it won't change anything."