Feb 28th is lock down day for F1 engines, but will Renault be able to lobby for changes?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Feb 2014   |  2:13 pm GMT  |  177 comments

Tomorrow, February 28th, is the deadline for the new hybrid turbo F1 power units to be homologated. This means that the engine makers, Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault have to send the FIA a sample engine and the specification of this engine and Energy Recovery System is then fixed for the season.

It is clear from the testing so far that Mercedes and Ferrari are in a position to do this, but Renault has been playing catch up after suffering a range of problems with the energy storage side of its power unit.

So what will happen next? Will Renault be allowed to make changes to its power unit after the homologation deadline and how does the process work?


How homologation works
On Friday February 28th the engine manufacturers have to place a sample power unit, comprising an engine, battery, motor generator units, in a box together with a disc containing all the drawings of the power unit components. This is then sealed by the FIA and taken away. At any stage of the season they can take out the unit and the drawings and request any engine from the race pool of any team and compare it with what is in the box.

If they don’t match then there are severe penalties.

What happens if there is a problem with the power unit at the time of homologation?
If a manufacturer has a reliability problem, he can apply to the FIA to make some changes. This can also be done on cost grounds, to avoid a situation where a greedy supplier starts charging double for a component, knowing that it’s part of what is sealed in the FIA box.

If there is a reliability issue, the manufacturer writes to the FIA highlighting the problem and specifying the fix it would like to carry out. It has to prove that this fix does not enhance the performance. The FIA considers it and if satisfied, writes to the other manufacturers requesting their permission for the change. The other manufacturers have five days to reply.

It’s likely with such a complex new technology that all three manufacturers will take the opportunity to apply for reliability fixes, even the ones that are covering thousands of kilometres at the moment.

If one of the power trains is performing significantly worse than the others, can the manufacturrer apply for a performance upgrade?
Not in principle. However if that situation arises it is clearly not in the interests of the sport so some common sense needs to be applied. The rule makers looked at this and pre-empted it in some ways; they decided that all manufacturers should be allowed to make a small number of performance upgrades after one year, so the engines will be re-homologated this time next year. And in 2016 there will be a smaller list of areas where they can make further performance steps.

The spirit of this rule (rather like any innovation in chassis design a team introduces which others cannot copy) is that if one manufacturer has the edge he should be allowed to enjoy the fruits of his hard work for a season, but then the others will be allowed to close up next season. But if there is one manufacturer lagging behind, then what happens?


The question then arises, could a powerful lobby, for example comprising Renault powered teams, persuade the FIA to let them make performance steps DURING this season in the interests of the sport, if they were behind?

There are precedents for this. In 2008/9 Renault and Honda both applied for such a dispensation. The V8 engines had been introduced a grew years earlier and Renault won the 2006 world championship with Fernando Alonso, but for 2007 the rev limit was dropped to 19,000rpm and Renault and Honda became less competitive. In 2008 a further drop to 18,000rpm and a new rule saying that for 2009, in addition to introducing KERS, drivers could each have a maximum of 8 engines per season meant that they were both down on power.

Honda pulled out of F1, but Renault got its dispensation and was allowed to make some performance changes.

This week in the final Bahrain test we will see how Renault is doing at fixing its problems and we will get a better idea of how its performance compares with Mercedes and Ferrari when the engine runs at full power.

And we’ll see where we go from there…

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177 Comments
  1. Ryan says:

    The last section of this article is very interesting James. Renault were given this dispensation to make performance changes before the 2009 season (whilst the other teams were not).

    The Renault engine then went on to win 4 (nearly 5) of the next 5 championships.

    Do you think this dispensation gave Renault an advantage?

    1. RobertS says:

      It appears that Renault struggle to adapt to engine rule changes. As was the case as James explained. Once they find their feet it won’t be a problem but for this year I think it will be a 3 tier championship

    2. Steve Zodiac says:

      Renault is French, the FIA is French, Todt is French [mod]. Personally I think they have obviously been incompetant and it should be their hard luck.(it’s rather amusing actually and I’m very pleased for Williams)

      1. forzaminardi says:

        Interesting post, thanks for that…

      2. _marko_ says:

        Todt was not on top of FIA when that was allowed to Renault.
        He came there at the end of that season!!!
        Just remember 2001. Ferrari was struggling against McLaren and then FIA banned beryllium.
        Who was than favored???!!!

        Todt was Ferrari’s boss for so many years that he is more on their side than on any others!!!

    3. Wayne says:

      It’s typical F1 nowadays, everyone including pundits and journalists look for reasons NOT to obey the rules, to get round them, or to change them all together every five minutes.

      What is not in the interests of the sport is sanctioned cheating, by which I mean sanctioned breaking of the rules to allow Renault to catch up. But no-one looks ta that sort of thing anymore, it’s all about the circus and the show and to hell with the SPORT.

      1. Voodoopunk says:

        “What is not in the interests of the sport is sanctioned cheating, by which I mean sanctioned breaking of the rules”

        ..like secret tyre tests…

      2. Wayne says:

        yup, although not much of a secret really was it? Charlie even gave his opinion on it beforehand.

    4. Rob says:

      My recollection is that once they homologated the V8s Renault stopped work. Mercedes and Ferrari continued to make changes for ‘reliability’ but added performance so they moved ahead of Renault. When Renault realised they were at a disadvantage because of the actions of Mercedes and Ferrari they started adding reliability fixes to their engines that closed the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari.

      I would argue that Renault operated within the spirit of the rules back then to rein in engine costs.

      This time they are hampered because they had no KERS capability at Renault, the old Renault team (now Louts) took responsibility back in 2009. Mercedes developed the KERS and had the best of all up and down pit lane so they were in a better position to exploit the opportunities this new power unit afforded.

  2. MrJamesBrown says:

    Brilliant article James, there’s a typo half way down when talking about prior dispensations where you’ve wrote grew instead of few

    James

    1. AndyK says:

      There’s another one where he refers to the engine manufacturer as ‘he’ and not ‘they’ lol.

      1. gpfan says:

        There is another one, where
        James said: “I’m flying to
        the moon on the backs of rocket
        monkeys”, when James meant to
        say: “Renault is suffering a
        lapse in performance when compared
        to the Mercedes powered teams.”.

      2. aveli says:

        have you never made a mistake?

    2. Ian says:

      *written* grew!

  3. Steven says:

    I hope they don’t sort out there problems or they are down on power

    Fed up with rbr winning all the time at least if the mercedes or Ferrari make a good engine there more teams that can take advantage

    If the renault was the best it would just be a rbr whitewash again with lotus close behind

    1. Voodoopunk says:

      “I hope they don’t sort out there problems or they are down on power”

      You wouldn’t rather beat them when they don’t have problems?

      Otherwise, isn’t it rather an empty victory?

      1. Steven says:

        Yeah it is but…. Isn’t it also a empty victory if you win the championship with a car that is a second a lap quicker then everyone else’s

        Its nothing against rbr but fed up of seeing same team win I would just like to see sum different teams fighting for wins and the championship

      2. Juzh says:

        So it’s okay if someone wins all races lapping everyone as long as it’s not a red bull. get a hold of yourself.

      3. Steven says:

        Did I say that !!! No I never said I wanted any team to dominate

        And no I don’t want to see rbr winning everything again that’s my view and I’m entitled to it
        I bet there are a lot of fans hopeing it will be a lot closer

        Wind your neck in Juzh If your looking for a fight go and start it with some one else

      4. Elie says:

        @juzh.. Yeah too right its ok. We had 4 years of Red Bull doing that — whats wrong with some other team completely dominating this 1! is that you Dr Marko?

        I dont mind if someone laps everyone- it just means they did a better job and the way things change in F1 the others catch up anyway. So pull your head in,tuck it where it fits & dont try drinking a fizzy drink in the process

      5. Carl Sheen says:

        I for one am interested to see how Seb handles driving an underperforming car, something Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen have all done outstanding jobs of in the past.

        I think that is what defines a great driver, not winning when it is easy.

      6. Tealeaf says:

        Hamilton has never had a non race winning car ever in his career, whilst Seb has already ‘handled’ underperforming cars with Torro Rosso cars in the past, but this new Formula is ridiculous how can cars have 150hp and massive reliability advantage and still be called the same class? I suppose its Hamilton’s best chance, its almost a case of now or never, but somehow I get the feeling all the hardcore Hamilton fans are certainly worried about Rosberg spoiling their party, so much confidence in the ‘best’ driver in the world eh…

      7. Steven says:

        In a ideal world I would love to see all the teams make brilliant cars

        Then that would make a interesting championship

      8. JohnBt says:

        You should have said we all want close racing amongst teams and no domination. A good example will be like 4 cars crossing the line within maybe 0.8 secs.

    2. Grant H says:

      I tend to think common sense should prevail,if it ends up the renault have produced a stinker, it is only fair that at least 50% of this season they cant make performance updates, after that we cant have a situation where renault look foolish. Cant risk losing a great engine manufacture leaving the sport. And lets face it they have helped RB win the last 4 titles. From what i read merc have had a lot more resource to produce this power unit, and fair enough it thats the case merc engines should win this year but cant risk losing Renault

  4. Richard says:

    Why does their need to be a design freeze at all. It is limited by fuel usage so the manufacturer that is able to extract more energy from the fuel than the others should be in a good position to support a winning team. If one can develop aero why not the engine. Of course that may lead to some very highly stressed engines because cylinder pressures by virtue of forced induction would be lightly to rise. A few engine blowouts add to the entertainment! – Bring it on and make it even more competitve.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      I imagine because the cost of aero development running into the double figure millions would be dwarfed by unlimited engine/power train development. Thus we’d only have the top 4 teams reasonably able to afford the ‘best’ engines and everyone else would either quit or have a ‘second tier’ power system.

      1. Cuba says:

        The cost would be shared by all customers of the same engine. The engine supplier, and the big customers would have an interest in keeping smaller teams in business.

        Perhaps just limit development to 4 engine updates per year and keep the 8 engine limit.

      2. Richard says:

        Actually the mechanics of engine design and development are well known. – There is little that is secret any more because engineers move around. I suggest the learning curve is in the ERS area rather than engine hardware. The engine is limited by the fuel usage so a point is reached where the law of diminishing returns applies.

    2. Paul D says:

      Good point – I suggest it could be to do with keeping development costs down?

    3. Ben says:

      The reason an engine freeze was first bought in was due to cost saving. The money that the top teams were spending on engine development they started spending on aero development, there are now restrictions on this as well – who knows what the next big area of spend will before/if they bring in a cost cap.

      I understand where you are coming from but these new PU s have already cost a heck of a lot of cash and if they didn’t introduce a homologation rule it would most likely be a Ferrari vs Mercedes battle – two teams that develop their own engines in house with a very large budget that no one else could compete with. Although I think this may end up being the case anyway….

      1. Richard says:

        Yes personally these engines are a waste of money and resource. The motor industry are capable enough of doing their own development in the ERs area and in some ways F1 engines are behind road cars. I can remember working on direct injection for petrol engines nearly 25 years ago!

      2. Stu says:

        Not really, no road car has got the sort of setup these cars are running with the turbo/ mgu and battery tech etc. Direct injection may have been around a while but it’s still state of the art and has not been replaced….I think the cars are a breath of fresh air. A waste of money maybe but f1 kinda is isn’t it?

      3. Steve says:

        So actually, the old V8s (which had architecture appealing all the way back to the 1960s were no longer “relevant” technology.

        You can think of F1 as being the thoroughbred of the car world… A car that has the same sort of technology as may be available on your car, but refine to such a level that it performs to the absolute pinnacle.

        F1 has never really been about innovation- sportscars have done more in terms of producing new road car technology, but f1 is about the refinement and application of technology.

      4. Richard says:

        Stu: I think missed the point. What I said was that in some aspects F1 engine design has not been cutting edge, direct fuel injection being a case in point having only just introduced it. – They did not need the fuel efficiency it gives, but now they do.

    4. Rick says:

      You know what? I do agree with you! If the spirit is to make engines as efficient but powerful as possible then they should be allowed to develop them much further. Who knows how much further they can push the envelope? I would have like to see a choice of turbo vs super charging! If there was a case for it. Then again who stops these geniuses spending the world twice over? I don’t know but as it’s going right now it looks like engines will be a big performance differentiator and if the push of tech if relevant to the outside world is worth it why not allow that area to be developed a little longer against say… Aero or some other parameter?

  5. Matthew Taylor says:

    I wonder if the existence of the double points rule will have some influence on whether manufacturers approve reliability changes or not. Agreeing to changes could end up giving the opposition a greater chance to sneak ahead of you at the last race.

    Potentially the array of grid penalties for replacing parts of power units will actually be more of a factor in determining the outcome of the later races. It will be interesting to see if anyone can get through 2014 without suffering at least one such penalty.

  6. Ron Colverson says:

    Thanks, James, very useful. That’s the level of detail and some good insights that I’ve not seen anywhere else.

  7. oddball says:

    Mm… If a date has been put in place then it should stand. The other teams have done their work so why should they not take the advantage. Think back to school,you spent weeks doing a project,turn it in on time then have one pupil getting an extension. I know its a poor example but you get the idea

    1. Jeff says:

      Agreed; however, considering the loss of viewership in 2013, one has to think that it would be in F1′s best interest to have a competitive season.

      1. ShaBooPi says:

        People stopped watching because they were tired of one overrated driver winning 4 championships in a row in a superior car. As long as Red Bull aren’t with superior machinery again, people will watch.

      2. Cuba says:

        It also moved to pay tv. The casual viewers are starting to get marginalized.

      3. GWD says:

        Probably correct for the last half of the 2013 season + as Cuba replied. It seems interesting that the talk of wanting to attract more casual viewer’s money (and thus grow viewership) with closer, less predictable, racing without mentioning that horrible ‘p’ word parity has been juxtaposed against trying to move viewership to in some cases very expensive and poor value paytv and an expensive and now seemingly devisive engine change potentially creating ‘tiers’ in F1. I remeber thinking that you can expect one engine manufacturer to stuff it up, but I can’t see how Renault haven’t imposed problems on themselves here though.

      4. Sri says:

        There are enough Mercedes-powered and Ferrari-powered teams to take top-10, Renault-powered can afford to be in mid-field or lower for one season. No harm.

    2. Gaz Boy says:

      Totally agree. All the engine manufacturers were given perfectly adequate time to design, develop and engineer the new turbo compounding engines for the new formula. If my memory serves me correct, it was around summer 2011 when the turbocharged 1.6 litre V6 engine specification was rubber stamped.
      If Renault have messed up, sorry, it’s their fault, they knew the date of the engine homologation. What have they been doing for the previous couple of years? Eating cheese and drinking wine outside of Paris?
      Personally I think the homologation should have been around September, at the end of the European season, but all the teams and engine suppliers signed upto the new formula so they have to accept it, come what my.
      Listen to the words of The Pub Landlord, Al Murray: “Sorry mate, those are the rules, because if we didn’t have rules where would we be? France! And if we had too many rules, where would we be? Germany!”
      Having said that, I do think Adrian and the design team at Bull have been somewhat complicit in producing a chassis/engine combination that is problematic.
      In the photo above, Christian looks like he’s praying to his maker; it will take more than divine intervention though Christian!

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Just to add to my comments about Christian in the photo, I wonder if he is singing (to himself) that Janis Joplin song: “O lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz…..”
        Christian, Adrian, Sebastian and Daniel: you really are going to earn your money this season…………

      2. Random 79 says:

        I would like to formally name that photo “Wishing, Hoping and Praying” :)

      3. James Allen says:

        More like Pleading, Planning and Shouting…

      4. David says:

        That wins the caption contest for the picture…. hands down.

      5. oddball says:

        Long..long clap….i am rolling here!

      6. AndyK says:

        Ahahahaha!! Absolute gold :)

      7. Pjaycee says:

        How about Faith, Hope and (complete lack of) Charity?
        ;-)

      8. Rick says:

        What maker you mean! His engine maker or his actual maker? :.D
        Sorry no offence! Had to do it!

      9. Gaz Boy says:

        Probably both!

      10. forestial says:

        I don’t think 2.5 years (since summer 2011) was a long time for these engine makers to develop a totally new formula. Just think about how different these PUs are to the ancient V8s they had previously been making (ERS, fuel restrictions etc.).

        Also remember that under prior rules there was no development on engines, so presumably a whole new staff of engineers had to be recruited to do the design work. Even if they transferred people from other engine work within those manufacturers this is no small matter.

        It is an amazing engineering achievement to have produced what they have.

    3. Random 79 says:

      No, that’s a perfect example.

      I used to do that all the time – get an extension that is, not turn stuff in on time – and you’re right, it wasn’t fair on those who did things right and finished their projects on time.

      But a small difference is that if I didn’t finish on time it only really affected me – I didn’t have four teams relying on me to do what they do and I didn’t have millions of fans disappointed that their teams couldn’t compete properly because I screwed up.

      Renault need to fix this problem, and if they need an extension to do so then I say fine, give it to them, but it shouldn’t be a get out of jail free card – they also need to make some kind of restitution for this mess.

      Some kind of refund to the teams for their shonky product and a big apology might be a start.

      1. Sebee says:

        FIA tried to squeeze Renault during Crashgate, how did that work out for them?

        F1 nearly lost a team and engine supplier.

        Truth Random is that F1 needs Renault more now than Renault may need F1 after this 4 year run. The conversation for this engine issue will be simple really.
        FIA: “Renault, you can’t have the extension.”
        Renault: “Would you rather we pull out?”
        >Feel free to handle this retort Random. I bet you’re giving them the extension faced with these two options.

        A bit of the same conversation that Mercedes may have had when they were dragged through the mud with the Secret Test.
        FIA: “Hey Mercedes, Secret Tests are against the rules.”
        Mercedes: “Either we’re competitive or we’re out. Now go and smooth this over as if it was lack of rules clarity.”

        Face it, the power has shifted. There are now 3 engine makers that hold the balance of power until Bernie can get Cosworth to make these new spec engines. Where is the grid going if there are no engines? Where is F1 going if Ferrari compete against themselves?

        Look closer and see that with Bernie’s troubles and age, only 3 engines (looks like 2 good ones, and Honda’s not here yet), and team financial issues, F1 is in a “delicate” position right now and has to look after it’s own. And that means Renault’s needs will be looked after.

      2. mtm says:

        How about a one make series to clear all this up? I could see Ferrari and Merc puttering around with the selected Cosworth PU =D

      3. Random 79 says:

        Not only that, but in an extreme case if worst came to worst and Renault bailed soon after the homologation date F1 would instantly lose one third of the field.

        So you’re spot on I think, but it will be interesting to see how they handle it publicly.

      4. deancassady says:

        Ultimately, I think you have it right, Sebee.
        But what is your proposed solution?
        What if, still rewarding Mercedes for their work, homogulation is pushed back by a week, and we have a re-homogulation following (days) after the last race before the summer break?
        Something like that?

      5. Sebee says:

        mtm,

        For sporting/fairness/budget control spec car is the only way. But it has it’s draw backs of course.

      6. Rick says:

        I would love to see a British engine in F1…. That said I know Merc’s engine is engineered in Britain most probably, mainly by British engineers….. But still! Who though? Cosworth despite their heritage didn’t seem to cut the mustard!! Anyone else? You know?

      7. Sebee says:

        @deancassady,

        It’s always a fine balancing act that we’re dealing with in F1 issues. Ideally the goal would be to keep everyone happy, but at some point compromises will have to be made.

        We are not privy to the goals set out in F1 by the rulers. But it’s safe to assume that one of F1′s goals is to keep all it’s partners in good light and give them value for dollars spent. It would not in F1′s interest to see Renault dragged through mud this year 1/3 of the teams DNFing at every race. Fans wouldn’t like it. Renault wouldn’t like it. GP Promoters wouldn’t like it. No good can come of it.

        My suggestion is to give Renault the time to get it’s house in order. Mercedes also understands that winning is wonderful, but if they win against weak competition, it’s not as if we fans won’t notice it. So as strange as may sound, it’s in Mercedes’ interest too to have healthy competitors on the grid.

        The real question is how does FIA give Renault an inch and not a foot on this engine issue? Because as many here speculate, giving Renault special treatment could give an advantage, and also set up a precedent. And as we’re seen with the Secret Test, FIA is really mindful of precedent setting rulings. I’m sure Renault will be given the time, but it will be interesting to see how they justify it as fair without setting a precedent that may be exploited.

      8. deancassady says:

        They’ll have to do it another way, Sebee.
        Rob White, apparently, wrote the homogulation rules!
        (I didn’t know)
        Now it will have to be via safety and reliability, and cost savings, which is what they did last time, and, after all, everybody will need it, won’t they?
        Thanks for your reply; very good.

      9. Kingszito says:

        Rule is rule. If Mercedes and Ferrari agrees that Renault fix anything in their engine, I for one won’t be happy, however it’s Mercedes, Ferrari and FIA’s call. Millions of fans was also disappointed when RBR was winning everything FIA did bend the rule then to make us happy.

      10. Random 79 says:

        Bending the rules is what F1 and the FIA do best :)

      11. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        Apparently it’s only really Bernie and Todts call. I think, for who knows why, they have 6 votes each and the teams have one vote each?

        If Bernie and Todt agree then it doesn’t matter whether Merc and Ferrari say no. Wonder if they’ll be allowed an extension themselves though, otherwise it would really be unfair. Surely all teams could argue an extension on the reliability clause.

        If it was down to just Bernie, he’d probably just let Red Bull run their V8 from last year!

    4. M Wishart says:

      No its not a poor example, its a very good example.

      Why should one student get added time unless it was VERY good reason. I seen this time and time again……..Enough of my schooling.

      Anyways, being a bit of an anti red bull, you could look at it like this:

      For the past 4 years they have been the team to beat, which is and was good for them, but just may be they decided to spend less time on a future, i.e. next years car and engine package and spend there time in the present, winning last years championships.

      Well that was good for the present, which they won last year, but may be that decsion is now coming back to haunt them.

      There is only so much you can do, so going back to the school idea.

      These people within red bull and renualt have not worried about a deadline and now want an extension, just like the pupils you and I know that took the “Mickey” out of the school and the system.

      Rules are rules, but unless there is a VERY good reason why their situation is now so bad instead of just not spending enough time on this season, last year, then like teams have done in the past, likes of Honda and McCarlen and others, it looks like they will have to write off this year and start to worry about 2015.

      Poor Red Bull……….

      1. Sebee says:

        If that Student is supplying 1/3 of your student body with hearts that keep them alive, trust me – you’re giving them extra time.

      2. yellowbelly says:

        A bit ironic, given Red Bull’s comment last season about other teams dangling their balls in the pool!

      3. Sebee says:

        It was a valid comment last season. After all, RBR did push further and thus won the WDC because of their second half performance. And teams perhaps did “surrender” a bit early to focus on 2014.

        On the other hand, truth is really, we should not judge RBR on pre-season testing. Anything is possible still. Not like their budget won’t allow it, not like we have not seen cars win pre-season only to find themselves not fastest at all.

    5. Urko says:

      Are you sure you want onother 4 or more years of domination, lik we had in past 4 years..???

      1. SteveS says:

        People have a very peculiar idea of “domination”. 2010 and 2012 were two of the most closely fought and exiting seasons in the history of F1. The fact that a driver you don’t like won those years does not alter that reality.

      2. deancassady says:

        true.
        2012 was the best season that I can remember, since 1997.

    6. I know says:

      If four teams were to end up completely uncompetitive, including two of the top four teams from the previous season, it would clearly take away something from the racing. It would probably also be the end of Team Lotus in F1. Whether or not it is fair, the FIA won’t allow that to happen.

    7. Glennb says:

      I’m a RBR fan and I totally agree with you mate. Same rules for everyone.

      1. oddball says:

        It can be a double sided argument, look at honda coming in next year,a whole season with no restrictions on testing, could this be a smart move? Merc,Ferrari and renault all being locked into a final design. Mr dennis is one smart cookie, pity i like my red cars

    8. AuraF1 says:

      I think Mercedes might start lobbying for double points at the opening 3 races at this rate! Quick before red bull and Renault get a b spec car and new engine out in time for the final races…

    9. Totally agree and I love Gaz’s comment! Haha!

      Is it really in the sports interest that Renault are given an extension? I know how much the sport loves its drama.

    10. J Hancock says:

      If Renault were to get extra development time, it would take no time at all for the press to extrapolate this into the rules being manipulated to help Red Bull win (and I would largely agree). Whilst it would be great column inches I can’t see the inference helping viewer numbers in the slightest.
      .
      Renault have been working to the same deadline and rules as Ferrari and Mercedes, if they’ve got it wrong they should spend the 2014 season facing the consequences.

  8. Random 79 says:

    Rules are rules, but if the Renault powered teams are significantly behind during races or even worse consistently failing to even finish you would think that they would have to allow Renault to eliminate their gremlins.

    Question is though if Ferrari and Merc both have to agree to this and one or both end up having rock solid reliability why would they give their permission?

    Is there any provision for the FIA to override them in extreme circumstances?

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Random, I’ve posted this above, but I’ll post it again.
      As Al Murray, the Pub Landlord says, those are the rules, because if we didn’t have rules where would be? France! And if we had too many rules? Germany!
      Oh, as the Pub Landlord also says, she’s your queen!

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        PS Random, when Jonsey the 1980 French GP at Paul Ricard for Frank and Patrick, somebody from the Williams team gave him a Union Jack to wave on his lap of honour. Alan didn’t mind because of course a) he was an employee for a British team (en route to 1980 WDC) and b) all drivers from Australia, New Zealand and Canada are from the commonwealth realms of HM Queen Elizabeth II. (Incidentally Alan and his first wife Beverly used to live in Putney running a guest house for tourists from commonwealth countries).

      2. Random 79 says:

        No, that was an Aussie flag they gave him – they just had to trim it a bit ’cause it was too big ;)

      3. Gaz Boy says:

        I reckon Frank and Patrick “threatened” Alan if he didn’t perform he would be sent back to Australia like his ancestors were!
        Probably the same for Daniel too!

      4. Random 79 says:

        Except that’s not a threat, that’s an incentive ;)

      5. Gaz Boy says:

        Do you know what, I miss Adelaide. The fact that it hosted the 1986 and 1994 WDC showdown probably has something to do with it, and the fact it was at the end of the season, not the start. Melbourne has some great races and all that, but Adelaide as a whole dedicated itself to the grand prix.
        Still, if Melbourne is hosting a race why not have a grand prix just across the Tasman in New Zealand, around the streets of Wellington or Auckland?
        Also, to complete the old Tri-Nations hat-trick, its about time F1 went back to South Africa, Cape Town or Durban street race in the rainbow nation. It is odd that the African continent is not represented in F1.
        The colonials have given at lot to F1, I mean McLaren was founded by Bruce the Kiwi himself while Sebastian engineer Rocky is a Springbok. A lot of employees at Macca, Frank and Claire’s and Bull have a lot of commonwealth employees; shame we don’t have a race in their country.

      6. Gaz Boy says:

        By the way Random, check out – if you haven’t seen it – Steve Rider’s interview with Jonsey on F1 Legends – its on Youtube. One of the great personalities of F1 – and of course he was Frank and Patrick’s first WDC in 1980. I reckon when Mark joined Frank in 2005 they thought he would be another Jonsey, but there could only ever be one Alan Jones, and of course going into 2005 Williams were in decline, so that relationship didn’t pan out quite like it should have for both parties.

      7. Random 79 says:

        Alan Jones is actually part of the commentary team for Ten in Aus – has been for the last year or so – and it’s great to have him :)

      8. Gaz Boy says:

        Random – great to see Jonsey still involved in F1 in some capacity. I bet he doesn’t mince his words and always gives strong opinions!
        I remember a few times he worked alongside Murray Walker at Adelaide – good old Alan had some pretty forceful views on the drivers!
        Pity he doesn’t work at the FIA, we could he with his straight talking no nonsense attitude in the corridors of power in F1.
        Imagine Alan giving “Napaloen” Todt a verbal bashing or two…………..

    2. mtm says:

      Renault has input for the other manufacturers changes and memories tends to last longer than just one season! It’s the first year of a brand new engine so it’s likely they are all going to need to fix things at some point. Remi quoted the Renault V8 ended up with 95% of it’s parts changed compared to their initial offering in 2007

      Appendix 4 “POWER UNIT HOMOLOGATION” of the FIA sporting regs state “or modified and re-delivered to the FIA after that date, which the FIA is satisfied, in its absolute discretion and after
      full consultation with all other suppliers of power units for the Championship, could fairly and equitably be allowed to compete with other homologated power units”

      “absolute discretion” sounds fairly.. err.. absolute.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Yes, but as you point out it also says “and after full consultation with all other suppliers of power units”.

        Still, you make a good point in your first paragraph: If Ferrari and/or Merc block Renault from making any changes then turnaround is fair play if either of them end up having a problem that needs fixing.

        I just hope common sense prevails.

  9. Rich B says:

    that wiggly exhaust manifold looks good, love to have it on my coffee table

  10. Richard says:

    They were all three given the same rules at the same time. Merc and Ferrari did a good job, Renault clearly did not. In the same way Ferrari and Merc didn’t do their job well enough to keep Red Bull from dominating. In my opinion, Renault should only be allowed to make changes when the safety of the driver/fans at the race track/pitcrew is at risk.

    1. ptrfjd says:

      They were all three given the same rules at the same time, but they didn’t have the same developing conditions. If Renault had the whole team of developers as Mercedes and Ferrari, (not only power unit engineers, but aero and mechanical) who worked together, you would be right. However, Renault engineers didn’t have the luxury of tweaking and on the go developing parts according to the data given from chasis and other vehicle engineers as Mercedes and Ferari had. Because of very tight integration of engine and car which they couldn’t observe, they hardly could know where they were going. It seems as they were learning to swim without going to water.

      1. Richard says:

        Renault should have gotten more resources for the design of their engine then, they supply Red Bull with engines, and Red Bull are in the sport to win, Renault should’ve known Red Bull demanded a good engine.

      2. yellowbelly says:

        Red Bull are the de facto Renault factory team, so a poor excuse. Also, the Mercedes engine factory at Brixworth is at a different site to the chassis factory at Brackley, so working at a remote location can be done.

      3. ptrfjd says:

        Its not excuse, its an explanation. I do not care for Renault, even less for Red Bull. But you have to consider something like this (Allison words):

        “Being able to build the engine and chassis together is definitely a nice advantage for Ferrari,” he said. “Other teams cannot do the same and this year, like never before, installing the new power unit in the car’s chassis will be a complex operation.

        “I’ve got direct experience of that from my time at Lotus: it’s true the engine supplier tries to meet your demands, but it’s never the same thing as happens here, where there is a historical culture relating to a common task of defining and developing the design of the new car.”

        Ferrari’s head of engines and electronics Luca Marmorini added: “We have worked side by side with our chassis colleagues over the years. Precisely because we know there is no point in we engine engineers pushing too much emphasis on our single project if then it doesn’t adapt to a winning car. This is the case not just as far as the engine is concerned, but also relates to all the other elements of this powertrain which, as you can understand, is much more complex than in the past.”

    2. forestial says:

      I am speculating whether, during the last 2-3 year development of these new PUs, Renault at some point got cold feet about the whole project and decided to reduce funding/manpower. Then had to scramble to catch back up, with the results that we now see?

      Remember that during that entire time, even as recently as a month ago, Ecclestone was rubbishing the whole project and politicking to keep the V8′s. Maybe someone high up at Renault thought that he might be successful (and he rarely fails to get what he wants) and was panicked into a decision that now looks bad?

      Pure speculation of course… but that’s what we are here for :-)

    3. Yak says:

      It’s not really the same as the aero side. Cost “agreements” if anyone’s following them, and the upcoming cost cap aside, Merc/Ferrari/McLaren/whoever could continue to develop their aero through the season just like Red Bull.

      I’m not necessarily saying that Renault should be allowed to make whatever changes though. If the FIA want real parity in the engines, they should just specify one spec engine supplier. But they don’t. That said, with it being for most teams a constructor/manufacturer partnership, I think it’s a bit rough to make it a simple, “Renault screwed up, so all of you Renault-powered teams are just going to suck for a year.” And with all of Lotus’ problems and Caterham suggesting they need a decent year or they’re pulling out of the sport, can F1 afford to potentially lose two teams and an engine supplier?

      What if all three teams had made Renault-style failboxes? Would it make sense for the FIA to just say, “You all made rubbish power units, homologation date has passed, bad luck,” and have a whole grid of cars crawling about all year hoping to be one of the very few who might just make it to the end of the race? Championships essentially decided by which driver and team just finished the most races? A year of qualifying being rendered largely pointless as grid penalties are handed out left right ‘n’ centre?

  11. Jeff says:

    Thank you for the clarification. Has there been any talk within the paddock of Ferrari and Mercedes considering some action if Renault is granted performance improvement allowances? What is the rumor mill saying?

    1. Jeff says:

      Given concerns such as Matthew Taylor’s and oddball’s above, the extreme technical challenges of this year’s rule package, and the “gimmicks” introduced for 2014, one has to be concerned about this season. It seems like F1 has really created a recipe for disaster. I truly hope I am wrong.

      Personally, I’m quite surprised by Ferrari’s and Mercedes’ silence on this matter.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Don’t worry, I’m sure they’re giggling with glee on the inside ;)

  12. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

    Engine changes will surely be passed, on safety grounds or whatever, if the Renaults start without giving competition to the rest or if they fail left right and centre. If this is the case though then the others, Ferrari and Merc should also be allowed to make similar ‘safety’ adjustments to prevent failures and improve performance for the credibility and fairness of the sport.

    Would you like to start the race in Melbourne sitting behind a Renault powered car as things are just now?

    Sweepstake, how many retirements before the end of lap 1?

    I’ll say four, assuming there are no lap 1 collisions!

    1. Random 79 says:

      Four?

      Well there are four Renault powered teams so that’s eight cars right there, but then Caterham have actually been doing not too bad in the reliability stakes so that takes us back down to six and then you have to factor in some unexpected failures and first lap collisions so I’m going to guess…nine.

      But that’s a bet I really hope I lose.

    2. Gaz Boy says:

      That’s assuming the Renault powered cars can do the warm up lap without combusting!

      1. Random 79 says:

        And that’s assuming they even qualify in the first place…

      2. deancassady says:

        and is the 107% rule still in force?

      3. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        Imagine if Mercedes kept all their softest tyres for Q3, then Lewis and Nico each did three banzai runs, just to see how many Renault cars they could knock out of the race!!

  13. Rayz says:

    This is an absolutely fascinating process that I believe will lead to F1 teams being at war with each other. Renault are clearly not ready for Homogolation tomorrow and if we find out that they are way down on performance compared to Mercedes come race 5 (European season), there will be huge pressure from the Renault powered teams to get this rule tweaked. I suspect that there could be some major falling outs within the sport this year.
    Mercedes do deserve to enjoy the fruits of their superior engine but I very much doubt, Red Bull would sit around quietly at the back of the grid for a whole season if the power unit turns out to be a dud.

  14. Roddie says:

    Renault said they’ve found a “fix” for their problems. Even if they have some issues in this final test in Barhain, I think they’ll be given green light by the FIA to make changes after homologation, provided that they finish before F1 season begins, and of course those changes have nothing to do with improving performance.

    I don’t think FIA will let them improve the engine (performance or not) DURING season, even though Renault-powered teams can have tremendous influence. More than one would love to see someone else besides Vettel and RedBull win the championship.

    Furthermore, all serious title contenders are not Renault-powered (except Vettel) so you can have an exciting season without the French motor-maker as protagonists. FIA and many others won’t mind them lagging throughout the season. We got at least 5 drivers (plus upcoming talents like Magnussen & Hulk) fighting for a win.

    So to sum it up: Changes are OK before season starts.
    During, they’re not.

    1. Alex says:

      I agree with you in general terms, but not about the FIA permission to fix something not related to performance, I mean, if there is a rule that allows engine manufacturers to apply for only reliability changes, as said in the article, it would be dangerous for Mercedes or Ferrari to deny it specially in the beginning of the season, because then they could find something that have to be changed in their own power units. Ferrari and Mercedes seem to have made the job well, but only in races could be seen how reliable their PU are, especially when only 5 PU are allowed for the entire season.

      1. Roddie says:

        I see what you mean. It’s very speculative to base reliability solely on the preseason tests. Besides teams don’t know the rate of “degradation” of each PU.

        Wasn’t aware only 5 PUs are allowed for the entire season! FIA is really putting an iron fist to budget cut regulations.

  15. Matt H says:

    Surely the precedent of the V8 engines won’t apply to 2014 because in that example they moved the goal posts by reducing the rev limit? Here, the the specification has not changed, Renault have simply hashed (to use a polite word) their solution.

    In my view, you have to suck it up and accept having a rubbish season. It’s not the end of the world. McLaren have done it recently, as have Ferrari and others. It’s just this time it’s a bunch of teams rather than one but that’s sport; you shouldn’t be allowed a sob story to get back into a World Championship.

    Here’s another precedent of a host of teams reliant on a supplier than didn’t deliver: 2005 United States Grand Prix. Michelin dropped the ball and the teams had to take it on the chin.

    Perhaps that’s not the best example, as it wasn’t good for F1 but so long as the season doesn’t descend into farce then I see no reason to throw Renault a life-line…

    It wasn’t bad luck that got Renault in this predicament. It wasn’t force majeure. It was a calamitous engineering process or series of decisions.

    So, I imagine I speak for many fans when I say ‘No to a 999 rescue’; let Renault have a bad season if that’s what they deserve.

    Neutral observers, who have spent the last 4 years bored to their eye teeth watching Vettel cruise to victory can rub their hands together with relish, as RBR toil in the midfield or worse. Quite literally lovely stuff.

    I still don’t believe it will happen. Horner is a man of great influence and will likely lobby AKA weasel his and Renault’s way back into contention.

    Roll on Melbourne.

    1. Voodoopunk says:

      “Neutral observers, who have spent the last 4 years bored to their eye teeth watching Vettel cruise to victory can rub their hands together with relish, as RBR toil in the midfield or worse.”

      That should read die hard Hamilton/Alonso fans, not neutral observers…

      …we didn’t mind…

      1. Matt H says:

        Very educated comment.

        Perhaps you should check the TV viewing figures for F1 over the last 4 years and see whether they are healthy (in which case your opinion is valid ) or whether they’re in terminal decline (in which case you are embarrassingly wrong).

        You might even find that there are some whacky ideas flying around e.g. double points in the last race(s) to address the problem of… everyone being really happy already.

      2. manz says:

        u cant blame redbull and vettel for doing a good job for the last four years…..shame for other teams including car manufacturers factory teams for not coming upto the challenge …
        TV viewers get bore when theres no competition (which is last four years was cause of other teams not pushing the limits)..neverthless they will get bore of anyother team dominating as RBR is already handicapped cause of RENALUT..and vettel will be robbed of his championship without any chance to defend it..infact people will wait including you my dear friend @MATT H tht when RBR/vettel will be able to challenge mercedes or ferrari and u get to see some competiton
        neverthless i think vettel/RBR fancs reallly enjoyed last four years :D

      3. Voodoopunk says:

        “Very educated comment.”

        Thank you, I do try, shame I can’t say the same.

      4. Matthew says:

        I notice you chose to ignore the bit about viewing figures and you being completely wrong.

        Any response to that?

  16. Brent says:

    If Renault receive dispensation it should be limited to the time it takes to get the power unit to work in the car with the most forgiving cooling package. There are obviously problems on the Renault side but cooling in Newey designs is a perennial problem. Renault has had the same opportunity as Mercedes and Ferrari. When it can run a few race distances in any of it’s teams, put it the box, seal it up and take your lumps. If, for instance, the power unit doesn’t suffer the problems in the Caterham , does it not then become an issue of cooling system design for the other teams rather then a problem with Renault’s design?

    1. Jeff says:

      Excellent point.

    2. Matt H says:

      Great point.

  17. Cuba says:

    Perhaps engine manufactures should be allowed to make a set number of changes through the year, regardless if it is for performance or reliability. This will allow limited competiton in engine technology, which will introduce more excitement into a sport that needs it. Have direct relevance to road cars. As the number of engines and engine suppliers will still be limited ,the costs will be kept down.

  18. Brace says:

    Where does it say that four cars mustn’t suck? HRT, Marussia and Caterham sucked for years and nobody cared. So if four Renault teams are going to suck this year, then so be it.
    Only thing that would be bad for the sport is if the rules weren’t same for every competitor or if some were getting “dispensations” just because they did a poor job.
    I couldn’t care less if none of Renault cars finishes a single race this year. 20 years ago it wasn’t uncommon to see half a grid retire at every race.
    Renault and Red Bull kept piling on performance upgrades throughout 2013, while others were focusing more and more on 2014, so I can’t see how it would be fair to give Renault and Red Bull “dispensation”, when they willingly decided to sacrifice 2014 preparations in order to win 2013.

    1. Dimitar Kadrinski says:

      well said!

    2. Jota180 says:

      I tend to agree and besides ‘Wonder Boy’ doesn’t need the best car to win, everyone knows that surely?

      So Renault have a bad season
      If I’m reading the rules up there ^^^ correctly and they are adhered to, they’re going to have a bad 2015 and 2016 too as only a limited amount of changes are allowed each year.

      1. Optimaximal says:

        It’s not a ‘limited’ amount of changes… the rules state that after each season, more and more parts of the car must be homologated, most of which seem to relate to the ICE design.

        If the FIA locked down the ERS development, they’d have shot themselves in the foot, because the series would once again fall behind road car/WEC development.

  19. OlPeculier says:

    I’m a little surprised that homologation doesn’t happen after the final test. Is this standard practice, I can’t say I’ve payed any real attention ro it in the past.

  20. Kingszito says:

    Red Bull was developing their car up until Brazil last season, and everybody was applauding them for it. You win some and lose some, they gave everything to win the last 4 years, while some teams gave less the past 4 years so that they can give more to win in the future.

  21. Dave Emberton says:

    In 2013, changing the tyres post Silverstone appeared to give Red Bull an advantage and the championship, although of course it wasn’t that black and white. If Renault are allowed to upgrade their engines half way through 2014, we could be looking at the same result.

    Honda obviously isn’t affected by this engine freeze, so doesn’t it give them a big advantage for 2015?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not really because they won’t have engines running on track at every 2014 race, gathering data. They have to join in year 2 when the others are able to upgrade based on their learnings

      1. Ian H says:

        out of interest are Honda under the same testing restrictions in 2014 as the others or could they run their 2015 engine round suzuka constantly?

      2. James Allen says:

        No the rules forbid track testing

      3. Toni says:

        James

        You mean, the rules forbid track testing with an F1 car, yes?

        What’s to stop honda to put the engine in another chassis or even a prototype “roadcar” development chassis and test the engine this way?

        (actually, I think merc and ferrari might as well done that… not so sure if renault could do it)

      4. Optimaximal says:

        Well, track testing ‘in a F1 car’…

        Did anyone get to the bottom of that strange looking FXX Mule running around Fiorano with the turbo sound?

  22. Dimitar Kadrinski says:

    This all reminds me of the USA GP and the Michelin screw up…. It was not allowed then… it should not be now.
    But then again it is F1 and allowing this will be accepted as well as the double points race(s), just watch!

    1. Random 79 says:

      You’re not the first to raise this, but it was a different situation.

      Renault are clearly having performance / reliability problems: The teams can race, it’s just they’ll likely not get very far and even less likely win.

      Michelin on the other hand advised their teams not to race on safety grounds.

      But still, being the disaster that that was, the FIA tried everything they could to find a solution – even going so far as to suggest the drivers slow down on the final turn or drive through the pits every lap – but they couldn’t come to an agreement.

      Here the solution is simple: Let Renault fix the problem – easy to say, but then those pesky rules get in the way.

      Many have made arguments for and against, but I think it basically boils down to this:

      Rules are black and white, but reality is not.

      It will be interesting to see what happens.

      1. dimitar kadrinski says:

        I see your point.
        However, thinking about it a bit more (the Renault problems) it is not connected to the engine itself (from what I read everywhere) it is more like a battery pack, electrical, software issue. They surely can swap batteries during the season or run as many software updates as they wish… or can they?
        Is the freeze only on mechanical side of the power unit or does it include the software side as well? any one more informed?

      2. Random 79 says:

        I can’t say I’m more informed, but if how I understand it is right then the freeze is not on the “engine” per se, it’s on the entire “power unit”, which is a new concept.

        I’m not entirely sure what they can change and what they can’t within the power unit, but you might be right about software / battery upgrades being okay.

        Even so, the problems they have might be a bit more involved than just that.

  23. jeff ashcraft says:

    I don’t wish any bad luck on Lotus, but I would not be too disappointed if RBR was unable to finish a race this year.

  24. marystern says:

    Hi James,

    I’d like to know if the new brake-by-wire electronics is included as “part of the engine spec”, and hence fixed, or can it be developed throughout the season?

    Also, do the engine suppliers provide the code for this, or is it the teams themselves that code the brake-by-wire systems?

    (I’m very unclear what can and can’t be done in this area this year, as everyone is talking about re-coding everything at the tests, so I assume it can’t be part of the standard ECU).

    1. Optimaximal says:

      Because it’s related to the K-ERS, it’s likely a combination of McLaren ECU and manufacturer PU developments.

  25. Dmitry says:

    Interesting… what about Honda in 2016?
    Will they be able to have more upgrades than others (as it will be after their first year in F1… well, in “new” F1)

  26. David in Sydney says:

    A massive own goal by Renault – it’s lucky they’re not competing with Ferrari or Mercedes with their road cars.

    Renault; not a good look and someone will be fired for this I’m sure.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      True enough about the road cars statement – mind you, Ferrari’s 458 kept bursting into flames if I remember correctly……………..certainly not a good look when your prized 458 has been incinerated!

      1. Optimaximal says:

        The 458 kept bursting into flames because of insulation issues near the exhausts. Ferrari changed a glue supplier or something and not a single one has burnt since.

      2. dimitar kadrinski says:

        yes SINCE…. lets just forget about the BEFORE times… :)

      3. Gaz Boy says:

        I hope the Ferrari customers whose 458′s were incinerated got a free replacement!

    2. Random 79 says:

      “someone will be fired for this I’m sure”

      Whether it’s fair to blame him or not I’m betting $5 that it ends up being Renault Sport F1′s Deputy Managing Director Rob White.

  27. Graham bowman says:

    The only reason renult are so far behind is because they have spent to long keeping red bull happy and Pilling too many resources into last year’s tittle challenge. They deserve to have a year on the the back foot.

    1. dimitar kadrinski says:

      This has been mentioned a lot of times in this comments. I can not understand how can you claim this, when the last years engines were frozen for development long time ago and no engine supplier could have altered anything on them (including engine mapping). So how could RB have spoiled Renault with their title fight last year is very hard for me to understand.

      1. graham bowman says:

        You my friend obviously don’t understand the structure of renult racing. There are renult engineers in the garage of red bull there are also data collectors,data analysts and not just there but in the garages of all renult team’s. These resources where put in to play when red bull were struggling in the middle of last season, between red bull and renult working flat out to produce a winning car. Don’t take my word for it read this quote from Mr.wolff
        Mercedes suspects Red Bull, Lotus F1 form down to Renault
        By Jonathan Noble Monday, October 14th 2013, 08:39 GMT

        Renault F1 2013

        Mercedes suspects that clever engine mapping from Renault could be behind Red Bull and Lotus’ recent upturn in performance in Formula 1.

        With Mercedes’ title hopes having evaporated thanks to Sebastian Vettel’s five consecutive victories, the German car manufacturer has its own theory as to why its challenge has faded.

        Renault-powered teams have locked out the podium for the past two races, and Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff thinks Red Bull and Lotus could be benefitting from advanced mapping settings and exhaust flow control.

        When asked by AUTOSPORT about the current form, Wolff said: “I think what you can see is that Red Bull from Singapore onwards looked like having made a big step forward, and then in Korea the Lotus made a big step forward of 0.2-0.4 seconds.

        “The question we need to look at is what they do in terms of engine mapping maybe.

        “Is there something there? The blowing strategy maybe?

        “In terms of development over the last races, we seem to be behind. Is it because there is something we don’t understand in terms of mechanical set up?

        “Or did first Red Bull and then Lotus do something which is related to engine strategy?”

        Wolff says getting to the bottom of why Red Bull and Lotus’ form has improved is vital for his outfit if it is going to finish second in the constructors’ championship.

        But he admits the team will have a tough decision to take if they feel they need to respond because it could mean pulling some resources back from the 2014 project.

        Nico Rosberg F1 Mercedes 2013

        “There are three points to look at,” he said. “First, did we miss something and if so, why?

        “Second, we need to balance the resources right in terms of 2014 versus 2013.

        “Then third we have to be looking at finishing second in the championship.

        “That is our target and we can’t let that go.”

        Renault has been at the forefront of sophisticated engine mapping over recent years to improve driveability.

        The legal use of engine cylinder cutting and exhaust blowing to the floor area to help in its quest has often wrongly been interpreted as evidence of traction control.

  28. Howard P says:

    Surely this is against the nature of the sport? Was Cosworth given special treatment because they were constantly behind (vastly) in spec compared to the others? Why should Renault be given this? All the engine manufacturers were told of the switchover at the same time, they’ve all had plenty of time to make their preparations. If one global engine manufacturer – with all the resources and expertise one can afford on this planet – cannot adjust to the new regulations, then that’s their problem.

    1. Toni says:

      “with all the resources and expertise one can afford on this planet”

      Trust me, they are far from that… that would mean, for a start, fully integrating engine and chassis development (still can’t understand how newey/redbull let them get away with it… I would be on their case from day one to make sure the engine turned out as I wanted).

      In 1982/83, when Macca was being brought from the ashes by Ron, they needed turbo power. they paid porsche, to give them an engine according to designer Gordon Murray’s specs. That did they get? The most powerful and efficient turbo engine for 84-85. Honda surpassed them in 86 and after.
      Also, when RBR was choosing between the different engines, newey really wanted the renault V8… why? I believe not for outright power, but other characteristics of the engine (fuel consumption and cooling needs, i believe), made it the best for him to design his aero wonder car…

    2. SteveS says:

      Wow, most commenters here seem not to have read the article. Or if they read it they failed to understand it.

      The rules most emphatically do NOT prohibit engine changes after homologation. In fact they specifically make allowance for changes.

      The assumption that the Renault engine needs performance fixes rather than reliability fixes is wishful thinking on the part of some people.

    3. Optimaximal says:

      The Cosworth was never behind… it had just as much power as the other engines and I think it had the second-best fuel consumption value (behind the Renault).

      The problems were with the cars it was installed in.

      1. Bryce says:

        Not even having KERS in some of them.

  29. David Sherwood says:

    I think the answer is simple. The fairest thing would be to postpone the homologation for all of the engine suppliers. This way no one gets preferential treatment and if Mercedes and Ferrari just happened to find a bit more performance whilst Renault find their reliability, so be it. The status quo is preserved. But the new date has to be absolute, agreed by the 3 teams and that is it, no second chances.

  30. Ahmad says:

    I think to make it fair, every manufacturer should be allowed the same number of engine upgrades per year e.g. 3, whether it is on reliability, performance and/or efficiency grounds (no questions asked). This simplifies the process for the FIA and the teams as well.

    It would be simply unfair to allow one engine manufacturer to effectively work longer on improving their engine and then bypass a deadline and probably gain an advantage (or nullify a disadvantage) while others have effectively stopped developing theirs.

    So Renault could bring an upgrade for the second or third race of the season, whereas Mercedes or Ferrari could bring one at the beginning of the European season or later.

    As engine makers will be gathering a lot of data over the course of the year and better understand their engine, they should be given the opportunity to bring improvements to their engine during the year to give us better racing. Why is just aero development allowed during the year (though it has resource/usage restrictions)?

  31. Mark P says:

    James,

    I’ve read comments from Renault referring to software changes on the power units fixing some of the problems the teams have been having.

    Does the homologation process include the software too? I would imagine if not, this still gives significant scope to improve things once they have the basic stability sorted.

  32. Jack says:

    So the entire idea of this new change in F1 was to make the racing closer but by the looks of it now it has never been further apart. The FIA will let Renault make changes because if they don’t your going to have no less than 10 cars (8 renults + marussias) they arn’t going to finish the race due to reliability and also struggle to get out of Q1. The FIA and F1 have a serious problem at the moment with all these cars going to Melbourne soon without even being able to get a handful of laps together without braking down.

  33. plantsman says:

    Red bull put everything into development to win last year meaning there behind with development this year not just renaults problem.If bernie got is way 3 races with double points, fia giving dispensation to develope after 28th deadline,three race wins at end of season would be a championship boost 150 points well engineered red bull !!!

  34. chris green says:

    it seems to me that the fia has lumbered itself with a bad set of rules regarding engine homologation.
    it’s not true that each manufactuer has had an equal opportunity to develop the new f1 engines.
    maranello, brixworth and viry are not comparable organisations. each company is a unique entity with its own strengths and weaknesses. in other words it’s not a level playing field. anyone who says otherwise is a fool.

    the original intent of the new engine rules was to make f1 more road-car relevant and to feed new technological innovations back into road cars.

    to freeze engine homologation at february 2014 was a bad idea. bad rules deserve to be changed. the new engines need to be developed in a real world situation i.e in an f1 chassis preferably under race conditions. after all no car manufacturer would ever release a new model car without rigorous real world prototyping. the new rules should have been partially open ended to see what happens over the course of the 2014 season. i think that the rules regarding how many ‘power unit’ sub assemblies can be used over a season will need adjusting. the electronic sub assemblies will ultimately prove to be more reliable than the motor and turbo units.

    f1 desperately needs a full field of competitive cars. as it stands the engine rules prevent that from happening. that needs to change.

    anyone who thinks that lotus, caterham, toro rosso and red bull trolling around at the back of the field is good for f1 isn’t thinking straight.

  35. Distant Knight says:

    So when Renault are allowed to make changes later in the year, will this be referred to as homoloGate???

  36. Elie says:

    Very simple answer here just move the homologation deadline back to 30 april for Everyone. Gives Renault a chance to ‘fix’ their problems and the others to continue development. This way we dont have breakdowns all year and all teams that were reliable continue to benefit.

  37. Chris says:

    Not going to get an even/sensible discussion on this, purely because Renault supply engines to Red Bull and esp SV!!

    If Renault are given the time and Red Bull dominate, the people who post sensibly on JA will once again be outnumbered by SV haters and lovers.

  38. Steve says:

    Hi All,
    AB over on the BBC FI page just posted this which I feel makes fr interesting reading and perhaps carries more weight when viewed against this discussion…
    “It’s fair to say Renault’s request for an extension to the engine homologation deadline has stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest. It’s a very controversial thing to request, for two reasons – 1) these engine rules are effectively only in F1 because Renault wanted them and threatened to quit if they were not introduced; 2) the manufacturers have already had an extra year to develop the engines, after the initial date for the introduction of hybrid turbos was pushed back from 2013. Renault want an extra two months of development before specs are frozen, by the way.

  39. Bryce says:

    Whilst I would not be averse to seeing[Vettel-mod]walking back to the pits on a regular basis (think it is going to happen at first regardless), something has to give. The sport and overall even rival teams gain no real benefit from a third or so of them not being remotely able to compete.

    An extension until five days after Malaysia is where I think it will end up.

  40. John S says:

    As a huge RBR fan this situation really puts me in a bind. I want them to be competitive and fight close with the top teams, but at the same time Renault screwed it up (maybe Red Bull too with the design of their car).

    Just the same way Ferrari hasn’t given Alonso competitive cars aerodynamically (to Red Bull). That doesn’t mean you suddenly just give Ferrari tons more tunnel time, testing and such to fix it.

    As much as it pains me to say this: Why shouldn’t Mercedes and Ferrari enjoy the fruits of their labor like Red Bull has in the clever evolution of a sound design?

  41. 1.6V6T says:

    A lot of the homologation was insisted on by Renault and they threatened to pull out if these requests were not included in the regs. So now they got them in, surely Renault must live with it. You can’t have your cake and eat it……Renault should have worked harder, if reports are to be believed Renault had around half the staff on the project as Merc so it’s their own fault. I think Renault should be made to suffer for at least half the season. If they threaten to leave make them pay through the nose to break contract, plus they will have waisted the R&D time and money so they won’t pull out, they will just make lots of noise about it to try and get their own way. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Sorry for the cliches but they fit the situation perfectly.

    1. James Allen says:

      Rob White wrote the document for the homologation process, approved by all the others and the FIA

  42. TGS says:

    Great article James, thanks for the info.

  43. JohnBt says:

    I thought it’s rather unfair as Renault did not get it right. All engine manufacturers had the same deadline. What a loss of face at Red Bull and Renault. This reminds me of last year when Ferrari, Force India and Lotus got their tires right and some teams didn’t so it became dangerous with the exploding rubber.

    Personally I feel allowing Renault the so called extra time is definitely not a fair stance. Win some lose some.

  44. xyler says:

    The only problem I see if Renault is not able to lobby and if their motor is really so much worse than the others they will not be able to stay in F1 becaue they will soon have no customer/partner any more.

  45. Gyurio says:

    Is it specified in F1 regulations that fuel must be “benzine” or we will see the efficiency and not performance based F1 following the World Touring Car Championship lead and going diesel ?

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