Toto Wolff denies the allegations made by Mercedes's former executive techincal director Paddy Lowe, of slowing down their engines in the 2014 season , at the beginning of the turbo hybrid era.
Lowe said that the team had realised already in the first testing session to have a good challenger by seeing other teams underperforming, but that the true extent of their superiority was discovered later on in Bahrain: "That was an enormous day. And we knew at that point that we were in some quite special territory.”
According to Lowe, multiple senior workers at Mercedes were worried that F1 might change the newly appointed technical rules if others understood how much more powerful they were. This made the atmosphere at Mercedes "more tense":
“It was exciting but you had other stresses,” he said. “So imagine the scene: You’ve got Toto and the board of Daimler who are worried about the negative politics of looking too good.”
A particularly tense moment were the qualifying sessions. In those moments, Mercedes would reduce the power given to their drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, not only during the earlier Q1 and Q2 sessions, but sometimes even in Q3, whilst fighting for the pole position.
“In qualifying, we would never turn the engine up for Q1 and Q2. It was run in a sort of idle mode. The debate would then be how much to turn the engine up for Q3. I’d be getting it in the ear from Toto: ‘That’s too much, that’s too much’. And I’m thinking, ‘but if we don’t get pole, we’ll look like a right bunch of mugs’."
Mercedes only missed once on the pole position in the 2014, in Austria, in favour of the Williams, but still, the more powerful engine modes weren't fully used: "Actually that went on quite a long time. Through most of 2014, that engine was never on full power for qualifying.”
The former senior Mercedes member had concluded that their car was the best not only because of the superiority of their engine, but that also aereo-dynamics played an important role as well:
"It was a good car as well. It wasn’t just the engine, we had terrific aerodynamics as well, better than anyone actually, which we used to track because we would engine-correct all of our data. And that car was better than any car, quite apart from the engine."
However, Toto Wolff completely disagrees with his former coworker: “I think Paddy must have been in a different place than I was,” he said. “There is no such situation that you turn back an engine just to have regulations tweaked in your direction.”