Formula One Will Allow In-Season Engine Development For 2016
Formula One teams could once again find themselves in the position of being allowed in-season developments of their power units for the 2016 Formula One season. The proposed change is a dramatic turn-around from the 2016 technical regulations that were published just earlier this week.
The original plan for the 2016 season would have required manufacturers to submit their power units for homologation by the set deadline of February 28, 2016. Once those submissions have been made, manufacturers would be barred from making any more updates, unless these updates fall under the scope of safety, reliability, and cost-cutting measures.
But just as quick as these changes were made, the FIA and Formula One’s engine manufacturers convened to discuss this new rule with both parties agreeing to allow engine updates after the February 28 homologation deadline. These updates would still follow the same token system that’s currently in place for the 2015 season so teams are still constrained by the amount of updates they can make throughout the year.
Under this system, each team will be allowed to spend 32 tokens throughout the season. Specific power components will continue to have different token values depending on their influence on the car’s overall performance. Having only 32 tokens limits the amount of changes a team can have on the engine. For a little perspective, a full change of all weighted components of the powertrain would cost a team 66 tokens. Certain components are also not allowed to be changed after the first homologation.
The proposed changes leaves room for an engine manufacturer like Renault and Honda to have more time to overhaul certain components on their powertrains to make them more competitive. It also allows Mercedes and Ferrari, the two other engine manufacturers in Formula One, to tweak whatever needs to be tweaked to stay on top of the sport.
All that said, the proposed changes are still subject to a unanimous agreement from all teams at the F1 Commission and they need to be ratified by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.
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Why it matters
Formula One has always had one of the most competitive group of individuals and teams in any sport that I know. We normally don’t get to see it because a lot of it happens behind the scenes, but rest assured, these teams will look to find whatever edge they can get to stay ahead of the competition.
The agreement toward this proposed regulation change should be a boon for all parties concerned. At the very least, there’s an explicit agreement among all teams and the FIA on what can happen ahead of the coming testing and development phase for the 2016 Formula One season. There won’t be anything ambiguous about how these engine manufacturers and their partner teams on what can and can’t be done during the engine development phase.
It’s not going to level the playing field for all engine parties, but at least nobody’s going to have more time than the other in regard to engine development. Now it’s up to each specific engine builder to make the most of the allocated time to research, develop, and test the possible engine configuration that will be used in the 2016 Formula One season. The regulatory changes also gives teams like Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso with no engine supply deals yet to find a suitable partner to work with for 2016.
Hopefully, this new set of rules will give each engine supplier and all the Formula One teams enough time prepare their cars for next season. The proposal will still needs to be ratified by the FIA World Motor Sport Council, but if all four engine suppliers are on board with this new setup, I don’t see any reason why the new rules won’t be put in place by the end of 2015.