A few regulations changes have come out this week for the 2016 Formula 1 season and most notably they are centered on the power units. One of the issues is this ability to run a year-old unit, which Manor is doing now and Toro Rosso might like to do with Ferrari in 2016, and this is now seemingly a loop-hole that has been closed:
‘Only power units which are identical to the power unit that has been homologated by the FIA in accordance with Appendix 4 of these regulations may be used at an Event during the 2016-2020 Championship seasons,’
However, AUTOSPORT reports that the FIA will allow it on a case-by-case basis or at leas their sources are telling them that. There has also been some changes to the exhaust allowing for two exhaust outlets to increase the sound of the F1 car.
There is also a meeting this week with the FIA and the engine manufacturers to discuss the regulations moving forward. It is not know what will be agreed upon but reports I am reading suggest that there may be a push to remove the development token system altogether.
Key here is Mercedes and their baked-in performance advantage that will be protected until 2020 if they make no changes. IT will also mean that as of now, Mercedes and Ferrari have an advantage over the field and both will be keen to keep that advantage while recognizing that it may not be the best for the sport but it is for them.
This is where the FIA have to step in and make decisions that are best for the sport but how effective they’ll be at doing that remains to be seen. Certainly F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is no fan of the new hybrid power unit at all and has until February 2016 to make major changes to the engine format for the 2017 season.
If major changes are coming, it would behoove Mercedes to stand in the way of any changes for 2016 to try and lock in another title prior to big changes in 2017 and possibly the same for Ferrari although the Italian team would most likely favor ditching the development token system for the next 18 months…as I assume Honda and Renault would as well.
In the past, trick aero innovations, when applied to a fully matured V8 engine design, gave teams an advantage. These designs could be banned removing the advantage. Today, the advantage is much more integrated within the power unit and not that easy to remove without simply starting over with a new format which I believe Ecclestone would prefer so as to bring in new commercial engine builders to supply the grid.
We’ll wait to see what comes of the power unit summit this week but I’m not holding my breath. If the FIA and FOM get on board, will they make hard decisions that don’t please Mercedes? Is this Mercedes’ fault? Not entirely but unlike a dual diffuser that can be banned, Mercedes has a power unit that quite possibly shouldn’t have been brought into the sport in the first place. They have the best one but there is complete incompatibility with the current power unit spec and advantage and the regulations that control how these power units can be developed.
I suspect that any big changes to the engine regulations for 2017 will still have a hybrid component and turbo to it but I may be wrong. There was even some rumors I read about allowing teams to run older V8 engines with FIA Balance of Power restrictions to ensure parity. That seems far fetched but you never know, Mr. E doesn’t like these power units at all.