Today February 28th, has been a very busy one in F1, with not only the testing going on in Bahrain, but also deadlines for new teams to enter the sport in 2015 and for engines to be homologated as well as a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group.
There are three headlines arising from the day which F1 fans need to be aware of.
Double points still in place but only for last race
The Group discussed the suggestion that the controversial idea of awarding double points at the final race should be extended to the last three races. This was not adopted. Fans’ reaction to the news that the final race will be worth more than the others has been extremely negative and while there is no doubt that team bosses and the FIA have taken note of this reaction, they feel that the end of the season needs to have a highlight, the equivalent of a “Play-off” in US sports and in other sports like rugby and football.
The level of artificiality that has been introduced by the selection of double points as a means of creating this “highlight” does not appeal to many within the sport or outside it, but having got this far, it looks like they are going to try it. But there are already many voices within the sport who concede that it is likely to only last one season.
They also agreed to give the top 10 cars an extra set of tyres for Q3 – to encourage them to go out on track – and modified the timings slightly.
No extension to the power unit homologation
We wrote yesterday about the homolgation of 2014 power units and the deadline, which was today, for all manufacturers to supply one of their power units, together with drawings and software in a sealed box to the FIA. There were reports that Renault, which is clearly in difficulty, had requested an extension to the deadline, which the company denies. In any case the F1 Strategy Group has decided that the deadline stands and all three manufacturers have sealed a unit in a box and it’s on its way to the FIA in Geneva.
All three manufacturers will take advantage of the possibility to make changes to the engines for reliability reasons, so there is no question of Renault being locked into a problem for the season. But they have to prove that these fixes are not performance enhancing.
The engines will be re-homologated at the start of 2015, at which time the manufacturers will have been allowed to make some performance updates.
No decision on awarding a franchise to a new F1 team
A panel comprising FIA figures including Charlie Whiting attended presentations from two parties interested in entering F1 in 2015 for the 12th franchise. One party, Gene Haas from the USA and another from Romania, which involves former F1 team boss Colin Kolles.
It has been decided to delay a decision on this.
FIA president Jean Todt reported that his team had felt both bids were “solid” and added that “it is important to fill that empty space, it would be good, but the priority is to keep the 11 teams we have now in business”
This will require cost control and cost capping was another item on the agenda for the F1 Strategy Group. No information has been forthcoming on this so far, but the situation going into the meeting was that the teams, including Red Bull, had agreed in principle to a cost cap at somewhere around €200 million a year, with discussions today focussed on the glide path down from there, to what level and how it would be audited.