How F1 has stopped "insane" engine spending war

Formula 1 has headed off the danger of an all-out arms race on engine development costs with a raft of new rules that will severely limit upgrades that power unit manufacturers can make already from this year.

How F1 has stopped "insane" engine spending war

With engine development costs having been kept outside the scope of F1's budget cap that is coming into force from 2021, there had been concern that investment in that area of performance could ramp up.

In fact, Renault F1 team principal Cyril Abiteboul had already suggested earlier this week that the levels of expenditure now needed to stay competitive had become a burden.

"We've been able to push for containing the crazy development race on the engine, and it's really insane what we've been spending on the engine, and finally that's going to change," he said about the planned new rules.

One of the key components of the raft of rule changes that had been agreed for 2020 and beyond is a strict limit on what engine manufacturers can do.

Up until now, manufacturers have been able to come up with an all-new engine each year and then upgrade it as they wish each time a new element came into play on a grand prix weekend. So with three power units allowed per year it could mean multiple specs each season.

All that changes for next year, however, with F1's engine makers now having to homologate an engine for a period that runs from 2021 until the end of 2025.

The rules from 2021 state: "Each Power Unit Manufacturer shall be permitted to present only one homologation dossier with respect to the period and the homologation granted will be valid until the end of the 2025 Championship."

This does not mean that no modifications can be made during that period, but the regulations are clear that strict limits are being put in force throughout the five years covered.

Read Also:

Starting from this year already, the rules prevent manufacturers from changing some smaller components, while some items can be changed just once each year from now until 2023.

For example, all engine sub-assemblies (such an engine components within cam-covers, cylinder heads, crankcase and gear case) and the MGU-H cannot be changed again this year, while just one change will be allowed each year for the 2021 season, the 2022 season and then 2023.

Some items can be changed between now and the end of 2021, like the MGU-K and Energy Storage, with one further upgrade then allowed in 2022 or 2023.

Without going into specifics of the 41 engine items covered by the regulations, in broad terms it means only one upgrade in limited areas this year – such as the MGU-K, the energy storage of control electronics.

For 2021, manufacturers can have a new or upgraded engine for the start of the season, and then just one further change that year.

For 2022 and 2023, one further upgrade will be allowed, and then everything will be pretty much frozen until the current engine formula ends in 2025.

There are certain exceptions though, as existed when the V8 engines were frozen, to allow for changes to be made on reliability grounds.

The rules add: "A manufacturer may apply to the FIA during the course of the homologation period to carry out modifications to the homologated power unit elements for the sole purposes of reliability, safety, cost saving, car installation and supply issues.

"Applications must be made in writing to the FIA Technical Department and must provide all necessary supporting information. The FIA will circulate the correspondence to all manufacturers for comment."

One other interesting aspect is that the rules have got stricter in ensuring that customer teams are given the same specification of components as the works outfit from the start of 2021.

Unless a customer team has rejected a change, customer and works teams must run with "identical software for PU control and must be capable of being operated in precisely the same way….[and] run with identical specifications of engine oil and fuel, unless an alternative supplier is preferred by a customer team."

shares
comments
How F1's new aero handicap system will work

Previous article

How F1's new aero handicap system will work

Next article

How development freeze will save F1 teams money

How development freeze will save F1 teams money
Load comments
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Prime

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall...

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Prime

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Prime

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed.

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Prime

How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021
The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Prime

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't Prime

How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says Oleg Karpov, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021
The signs that point to F1's rude health Prime

The signs that point to F1's rude health

OPINION: Formula 1's calendar might still be facing disruption as the pandemic affects travel but, says Mark Gallagher, the business itself is fundamentally strong thanks to the epic rivalry taking place on track and the consistent arrival of new sponsors.

Formula 1
Jul 24, 2021