Analysis: Important deal agreed on F1 engines to 2020
Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Apr 2016   |  5:39 pm GMT  |  80 comments

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. Sergio Marchionne

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.

Mercedes engine

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. Christian Horner Jean Todt

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. Esteban Gutierrez

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

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Gary Meredith

AS a Formula One FAN I can NOT see ANY reason to go to ANY F1 race as these F1 cars are only to be seen and NOT HEARD .

When the testing began in early 2017 , I along with MILLIONS of other F1 fans we
thought that Formula One Management , and others that are involved in THIS SPORT had gotten the message that ( the hybrids NEEDS TO GO ) so Mr Todd got
his way and THIS IS WHAT WE THE Formula One FANS have to put up with ??????????? .

Mr Todds BIG PROBLEM is HE has NEVER been to ANY OTHER RACE’S so how should HE know what WE F1 fans are missing when we go to A REAL RACE and
can SEE & HEAR the RACE Cars run .

Gary S Meredith


Jean Todt has been to a shedload of races, given that he ran the Ferrari team for over a decade. He’s also been involved in Le Mans, was the team boss of Derek Warwick the year he won it.

Whatever your criticism of Todt, to say he doesn’t go to races is simply untrue. Just like Mosley before him, he has a genuine passion for F1, was involved in the sport before and tried to make improvements. He hasn’t entirely succeeded but one thing you can’t say is that he’s ignorant and doesn’t attend races.

The cars are much faster this year and three different constructors have won a race. Ferrari have caught Mercedes in race pace (maybe surpassed them at some tracks) and Red Bull are improving a little after a disappointing start because the development race is back on, it was non-existent the last four seasons.

This is the best season since 2012 by any measure. Not perfect because McLaren-Honda are really struggling and they shouldn’t be so far behind after making mid-table last season, but it’s better than it has been for a while, that’s for sure. Still plenty of work to do on costs so we don’t lose any more smaller teams, I want a full grid of at least 24 cars, preferably 26 like the old days and I want more even distribution of the money (Ferrari getting $100m for just being Ferrari and them having a veto is grotesquely unfair and as vacuous as most of their flag waving “fans”. Many things wrong with F1, but also many positive signs from the new owners who remember, have their hands tied on certain contracts that were already signed before they took over.

I don’t care about the noise (I’m a grown man, not a child who gets excited by loud noises), I want to watch good racing and see the best drivers in the best cars (so Alonso needs to get the hell out of McLaren and then all of the top 5 drivers will be competitive).

While F1 will never be environmentally friendly, that doesn’t mean they can’t do their bit, and so the hybrids will/must stay and they’ll get better and cheaper. I hate the idea that because these cars pollute the environment anyway, that they might as well do it some more! It’s a ridiculous argument. It’s like saying if you damage your laptop in some way, then you might as well smash the whole thing to pieces, even if still kinda works.


Can someone explain to me what engine manufactures do to make an engine more reliable, and at the same time reduce it’s cost?

Jon Eyvindsson

The sport is there to entertain and innovate. If innovation is strangled through standardisation we will lose benefits to the rest of technology. If we were to limit the size of aerofoils to what would be practical on a road car, it is possible that more exciting racing would result, and the engineers would soon come up with improved grip which would be transferrable.


These power units have become a total nightmare. Generally speaking the fans don’t like them, the teams don’t like them, except for Mercedes, and all of the rules surrounding them through the FIA have made it a complete disaster . It’s incredible how fast Formula One has fallen from grace with no sign of recovering. The people that created the new qualifying for Matt are the same people who run Formula One in case nobody noticed. I must say that they are totally insane. And of course F1 mouthpiece Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t help matters at all with this horrible comments in the crappy tracks you signed contracts with as he Veers Formula One away from Europe. Pretty soon nobody will be able to afford or want to play in the sandbox because it’s way too expensive, and that includes the fans also. I used to go to three Grand Prix a year and last year at the US GP will be my last race. If you think this engine sound horrible on TV you should hear them live there 10 times worse. The worst sound out of the race car I have ever heard.


V8 1000+ bhp, less aero, Bring back re-fuelling, Add another tyre into the equation, a second tyre supplier, use has many engines you like, no tokens, lets go racing.. Not his GP2 crap!


It’s a shame that the token system is going. I thought that was a really good way of letting people upgrade through the year without going crazy and I thought it actually could’ve been implemented more across other areas.


“If we could just get all the engines equal. . ‘
then we could get all the chassis equal, . . then get all the tire equal -wait we are there already. . . actually we could save a lot of money by just having the drivers move their fingers on a steering wheel in a simulator. They wouldn’t have to wear helmets, or worry about g’s on the neck muscles. It wouldn’t waste petro or hurt air quality and it would make us all feel better.

How about a racing series.


Hi James, will the reduction engines mean less time on track in P1, P2 and P3.


What I find interesting is the boost pressures. To me it says that they are going to increase the fuel flow rate because upping the boost pressure with the current fuel flow rate will be meaningless. More boost, increased fuel flow rate, greater power, faster cars….
We can hope…


I read that as constraints on boost pressure = less or the same boost not more


In the big scheme of things with the really big dollar numbers, the proposed cost reduction is just a little bit of fluff in a windstorm, really no more than window dressing.

At the end of the day we’re still left with these little battery operated whiz-bangs, maybe 2 cars that are racing for a win, Todt is still hanging around, and it’s really time for a new racing series called ‘Formula A’ to start up with normally aspirated V8’s and/or V10’s and/or V12’s.

Let ‘Formula A’ showcase new green fuels, and leave the battery powered junk to the taxi-cabs at the airport. ‘Formula A’ would very rapidly erode what’s left of the fan base of this hybrid stuff in F1.

It’s clear that the only way through Todt and the FIA is to drive around them in a new ‘Formula A’ and off into the distance in real machines. There’s no use battling the ‘Head Shed’ in Paris. They completely lost the plot over three years ago and there isn’t enough collective IQ there to bring back any version of F1 as it used to be.


Seems a little academic, the trajectory F1 is on now there won’t be many people still watching come 2020.


And how will the elimination of tokens help F1??? That means we are in an open arms race now, and clearly someone will dominate next season.


Einstein once said “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” So having said that……..

Let us just summarise where we have come from and are going to:
– everyone agrees we want 1000bhp engines so drivers actually crack a sweat but per the new deal done by the magnificent governance structure (that will remain in place from 2017 -2020 by the way…..) let’s limit boost pressure and decrease the allocated number of engine units to 3 per year, limited boost/increased reliability and 1000bhp are not mutually exclusive in the slightest!!!!! So much for that idea……
– it didn’t occur to anyone when the new regs were announced that the turbo would stifle exhaust gases/volume and in two years not one person in the F1 seems to be able to get them to sound anything like any F1 engine in the history of the sport pre 2013
– engine regulations were changed which cost a fortune and have led to Mercedes dominating the sport. The small teams can’t afford the new engines so they will be reduced a total of 20% in price (approx) over the next two years by which time Sauber will be no more and the smaller teams will still not be able to afford the engines
– new engine regulations are put in place with a token system to cap spending. This fails so the engines still cost far too much, the manufacturers want the smaller teams to underwrite their investment, then the token system is removed to get parity and development costs will increase to achieve convergence/reliability. Let’s just throw some ambiguous comments in here about monitoring dimensions/weights/materials etc so it looks like the TWG actually have the faintest idea what they are doing….
– new engine regulations are put in place which leads to Mercedes dominating the sport and the sport essentially being in “crisis” for a few years now. So they change the regs to get convergence by which time this is achieved (2020) the regs will change and the process will start again (which is where we have been for 2 years now)

Can Carlos Slim just come along and put together a new series, Sergio would be on board and the others would follow…..we can even stream it on the internet so the sponsors actually get some exposure and then Ferrari would enjoy more money than what they get now….


Isn’t three engines per driver for an entire season being a bit too extreme ? I understand the sport wants to improve the technology, and reduce costs, but won’t this lead to reduced running in practice sessions and a probable 2-3 penalties oer driver ? Or is the development curve of these engines projected to be good enough that such a thing will be not only feasible, but won’t impact the quality of the show ?


Oh dear, they’re not scrapping the ridiculous DRS.
Missed opportunity to make overtaking more of a skill than just “move over I’m going faster than you”.


And yet another own goal by f1.
Problem : smaller teams can’t afford the new engines.
F1 fix: reduce the cost of engines which while being technical master pieces, have reduced the show somewhat. To reduce costs we simply will supply less engines. Which means more conservative racing to preserve and increase engine longevity. Which reduces the entrainment and yet again reduces income and the merry go round continues.

Logical fix : fair distribution of income so smaller teams can buy engines ( it is after all a car racing series, and the engines are rather important). Leave the regs alone, more engines means more aggressive tuning means better racing.
But that would make too much sense wouldn’t it


Sounds like more of the same until 2020.
So the enginedxate coming down in price? No, not really. The manufacturers will make up the costs in these infant years. And they are supplying less engines. So of course the cost will come down.
But any saving will be wiped out by chassis changes and all the design that for a into a new car.
Is it just me, or has some stability actually seen 3 good race days this year. I know merc still have a performance advantage and good for them in doing so well. But I bet by mid season the rest of the pack will be closer.


I must be missing something about the way it’s explained. Have seen figures bandied around suggesting teams currently pay €20m for engines. 2 drivers, 5 engines so that’s €2m a piece. If they are dropping to 3 engines a season then supply should drop by €12m all on it’s own. Where does the €4m drop fit in?


I didn’t think the sound was an issue until I saw some “old” footage recently from 2005. The current engines are an absolute embarrassment and sound abysmal.

Wow, so the regulations will be fixed for a whole 3 years. Great job F1, whose turn will it be to dominate this time, Honda?

This sport needs a proper spring clean, back to basics approach. Get rid of the stale old guard currently running the show and get some of the younger generation to return the sport more to its roots.

V8s minimum. Anything else is not legitimate.


wrong answer!


I’m waiting to hear what Sebee has to say about this ;-)!!


Sucks. But I fully expected this.

I need to just care less. I need to let go. V10s…Schumi…it’s all in the rear view. Real men in F1 that’s gone too. Those were good days. Glad I saw it.

Hey, at least whatever this is, it’s sufficient enough to be on while I’m on the treadmill in the gym. Even if I get a way bigger laugh putting on the food network. I know it’s evil, but funny as hell, especially when one of those desert baking shows is on. It’s like everyone is running towards the cakes! Cake 1, I call it.


nelson piquet in brabham bmw 1400hp on a quali lap. unlikely to ever get better than that.


A couple of million shaved off here or there isn’t really going to make a difference.


How on earth does anyone guarantee supply?. Eg If Renault tell RBR we dont want you for commercial reasons etc-( broken contract terms on advertising) – nothing related to technical- so they go to Mercedes & they say get lost you have a supply with Renault. Why should anyone be forced –or even Vice a versa – If Renault had a dispute but still wanted to supply & RBR say nope – why should Honda /Merc/Ferrari supply if the reason for the split is not technical.?? I can see teams using this as an escape- sure the divergence rules will make them similar but as we all know every team will chase whatever small gain they can get especially if the cost is the same accross the board.


Seems like a good decision to me.

3 Engines per driver a season will be incredibly challenging though! Hopefully this is realistic and the teams can run flat out. It would be a shame if we have teams saving the engine on Free Practice. Not good for the fans attending!

The V6s sound a lot better this year. I was quite surprised going back on youtube and watching some of the old V10 footage. It was great for about ten seconds and then I found the constant whine a bit tiring on the ear. This year they are quite musical with a nice low growl. I think if they can get them a bit louder for the fans at the track, it will be even better.


So the FIA have agreed a deal that was nowhere near the 12 or 14 million or whatever it was, for a power unit supply.
The manufacturers must be rubbing their hands together, they’ve hardly given anything away.

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