A supply of Formula 1 power units is to become cheaper, the units more reliable and the performance will converge while the FIA has vowed to keep regulations stable until 2020, in a new deal announced today.
It means that the plans for a threatened standard engine will be shelved and hybrid turbos will be the default power unit for F1 until 2020. All teams are guaranteed to have an engine so there will be no repeat of Red Bull’s situation last season. The Anglo Austrian team is a major player in F1, but was left vulnerable when no-one wanted to supply them with engines for 2016, before a compromise was reached with Renault for unbadged engines.
The FIA together with the F1 engine manufacturers and commercial rights holder have agreed a package of measures which will see €4m knocked off the cost of a supply of engines over the next two years.
The rules will move to reduce the supply to three engines per driver per season, making the engines more durable and reliable than today. This is quite some way from the early 2000s when it was common for a driver to get through two or three engines in a weekend, let alone a 21 race championship with 4.5hours of practice, plus qualifying and a 300km race.
Interestingly, there is also a note to confirm that, despite plenty of criticism of the current governance structure of the sport, with the controversial F1 Strategy Group, “the FIA commit to … the maintaining of the current Formula One governance structure for the 2017-2020 period.”
Under the current system Ferrari has a veto and an upfront $100m a season, Mercedes around $70m and so on. The maintenance of the current governance structure confirms that these measures as well as the regulatory power that sits with the F1 Strategy Group, which contains mainly the leading teams, will ensure that continuity.
Although the manufacturers like FIAT/Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Honda have come to the table with this deal, behind the scenes the power struggle goes on. Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault in particular are challenging Bernie Ecclestone’s grip on the sport, with Ferrari’s Sergio Marchionne in particular looking like a key adversary.
What makes the challenge for Ecclestone greater this time than on previous occasions when he has faced adversaries, apart from his age, is that men like Marchionne, Toto Wolff and Dieter Zetsche of Mercedes and Carlos Ghosn of Renault are figures coming to the sport from the outside; men who are not behoven to him in any way, unlike Frank Williams, Ron Dennis and other big beasts from the past.
The details of the power unit deal are as follows.
Agreement has been reached on a significant reduction in the price of power unit supply to customer teams and a reduction in cost to manufacturers over the coming years.
– In 2017 the power unit price for customer teams will be reduced by €1m per season compared to 2016.
– From 2018, the annual supply price will be reduced by a further €3m.
– Cost reduction on power units will be driven by changes to the Sporting and Technical regulations in 2017 and 2018, with a progressive reduction of the number of power unit elements per driver per season.
Supply of power units to customer teams will be ensured, as the homologation procedure will include an “obligation to supply” that will be activated in the event of a team facing an absence of supply.
The new agreement includes a package of measures aimed at achieving performance convergence.
– The token system is to be removed from 2017
– Additionally, constraints on power unit part weights, dimensions and materials, and on boost pressure will be introduced in 2017 and in 2018.
Manufacturers are currently conducting a promising research programme into further improving the sound of the current power units, with the aim of implementation by 2018 at the latest.
What do you think of today’s developments? Is this a move in the right direction or would you have liked to see the sport introduce a standard engine? Leave your comments below