F1’s ‘token’ cost-cutting engine

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One side of me says this entire engine token thing is bunk. What do we really know about tokens and who spent which ones the best? What does it even mean that a team like Mercedes has fewer tokens to spend than, say, Renault in 2015? It sounds like a bad thing but then Mercedes isn’t having its backside handed to it on race weekends. For those of you who are keeping score, know exactly what the tokens mean and know where they are being used, then you might like to know the remaining tokens for the 2015 season per make:

Renault- 12
Ferrari- 10
Honda- 9
Mercedes- 7

Honda hasn’t used any of their tokens yet this year as they were gifted a handful which was determined by the average of unused tokens the other makers left on the table. No, that’s not confusing or anything. So far, Honda hasn’t wanted to use their tokens and there is a methodical approach to this but it is not unlike Renault who have also chosen to struggle along without using their tokens as well.

Is there merit in waiting for the end of this years to pile on the tokens? The initial thought is that ushering in a new formula for F1 is one thing but trying to do it within the confines of an engine freeze is really asking for problems.

When we look at the engine innovation in WEC, we see different approaches to the same formula of hybrid-powered cars but they aren’t locked into a freeze that limits their approach to their design. Fair enough, you say the freeze was intended to keep costs down. I say, if it has worked, we’re all pretty much in the dark on the results of its efficacy and I’ll go even farther and suggest, I don’t think it’s worked well at all.

It seems to me that simply telling engine makers that they will need to supply a certain number of other teams but can charge no more than $15 million for the engine supply contract and that they will have to provide the exact systems and software that they use on their cars would be a better way to leave the money burning to those who can afford it yet guarding those who can only afford an engine supply deal.

I may be wrong, of course, but it seems to me a much easier way to try to keep costs down for those who need it and allow for engine innovation for those who want it and can afford it.

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Paul KieferJr

If the improvement costs more than a simple engine, then it’s not worth the trip.

peterriva

I’ll trade you three women for a night out and a bottle of Chivas for a token…

Dan Farley

I would extend this idea to say that the engines must all have a homologated engine mounts and drive shaft locations along with being able to fit within a specified engine cowling. Then the engines can be sold per engine allowing teams to change supplier engine by engine at a set cost limited.

Negative Camber

Hmmm…that would be interesting. Are you thinking a team could switch engine suppliers mid-season?

Dan Farley

Yes, if an engine manufacturer wants to supply teams other than their own works team you would hope that the manufacturer would be providing the best support in partnership with all the teams they are supplying. Think of it as if it were 2 tyre suppliers. We wouldn’t object to the idea of a team switching from one supplier to another midseason but the tyre manufactures would want to work with the teams to ensure loyalty and a working relationship to have their product performing the best it can on that car. I would also suggest a new power unit… Read more »

JustCoz

Wouldn’t work. For that to work, you’d have to also regulate the turbo inlet/outlet location (impossible with the various layouts currently present), exhaust position and design, radiator hose connection points, wiring loom connections, battery dimension, airbox design…basically everything involved with the installation of a modern F1 engine.

JustCoz

They can’t supply the same software to every team, because teams use different steering wheels, brake by wire hardware, throttle pedals, and a whole load of other electronics that have to be controlled by or at least connected to the ECU, but are not standard equipment. Developing anything is always expensive. The token system was supposed to limit development and lead to an eventual engine freeze, which in theory should have allowed all the engine manufacturers to build a similar engine, develop it in similar ways, and reduce costs in the long term. It hasn’t worked, but not because of… Read more »

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