FIA, engine-makers agree to in-season development

While we’re all talking about radical engine changes, V8 returns for Red Bull Racing (RBR), the engine manufacturers met today and decided a few changes are in order with their series-rattling V6 turbo hybrid power units.

The wonderful folks over at AUTOSPORT got the scoop and said that the meeting agreed to in-season development, no reduction in engine tokens to spend and no closing of technical areas of the engine for development.

This means the teams will have 32 tokens, the “upper/lower crankcase, valve drive, part of the crankshaft, air-valve system and ancillaries drive” according to the report.

Now, this is actually quite a big move within the confines of the current regulations but I wonder if fan disdain has risen to a point where even these concessions are merely a band-aid on a gaping wound. Fans were roused by the thought of a V8 engine supply for RBR or small teams or even a complete return to V8’s or at least a 3.5 liter V6 turbo with basic KERS.

When we consider the development freeze in F1, that has been, effectively, lifted here and it’s a huge moved within the regulatory oversight. The FIA have made some sweeping changes here so I don’t want to marginalize what has been achieved.

This is big for Ferrari and Honda and Mercedes conceded here is they agreed to it although this also means they can develop their engine even further meaning more money spent and more expensive power unit costs. Fair enough, it we want teams to have a shot at catching Mercedes, it’s going to take this kind of open development.

I would also suggest that this is a bit of a desperation move on the manufacturers part give the whole reason for the freeze was to control costs and allowing other teams a real shot at catching Mercedes is really a big move most likely born from fan appeal regarding Ferrari’s narrowing of the gap even if marginally. It was one fo the glimmers of hope in the 2015 season.

The group are said to have addressed the year-old engine supply issue and approved the use of them meaning Toro Rosso may be fitted with this year’s Ferrari engine. They also decided against alternative engine formats as championed by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. This means the idea of having a V8 supply for smaller teams or privateers doesn’t look likely but then some consider that this was a negotiating tactic only. Regardless, the teams were “comprehensively” against it. Of course they were.



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Paul KieferJr

Going to need MIE to tell us what this means in terms of power. Admittedly, I’m no engineer here, but if this gives the smaller teams a leg-up in terms of power, then so much the better. I want to see what happens on the track.


Ultimately we will eventually get to parity between all the manufacturers. This took several years to achieve in the V8 era. However until we get there, allowing in season development will once again give the works teams an advantage over their customers, with the result of Mercedes and Ferrari far ahead of their customers, until Honda and Renault catch them up.

Negative Camber

I guess there was no discussion about supplying their customers the exact same software as the works teams then. :)


of course not ;-) problem solved… RBR gets ‘2016’ engines & avoids a half a billion dollar penalty . RBR fans get to see them in F1 going forward, the Engine MFGs get to develop as they wanted to.
Guarantee who ever supplies RBR spends a few tokens by malaysia or whenever they feel the need, and ‘boom’ like magic, RBR is stuck running “old” engine as planned…

Some would say..”well played Toto, Mauricio Et all…”

F1. Gotta Love it..


I think this would only be sensible if the customers had the same fuel and lubricant supplier as the works team.
For others it gives them some opportunity to outperform the works outfit. Certainly last season Williams were more economic than the works Mercedes. While it wasn’t enough to allow them to win, it did help them to third in the constructors championship.


I thought there was also an agreement on an engine price discussed at the Strategy Group meeting a month ago. So no more expensive Power units.

Negative Camber

I think they discussed it but I’m not sure what the resolution, if any, was.


It’s about time, and I’m happy for this significant change. The whole concept of “cost savings” by doing development freezes is a farce anyway. With a more open development program the engine manufacturers have more liberty to work on significant changes to find what works best. With a closed program they put in even more money to try and eek out that extra 1% with the minimal areas they are allowed to work on. I don’t think either method saves over the other. I’ve been saying for a long time that anytime there is a significant mandated design change (be… Read more »

Negative Camber

It will be an initial push by Merc too so I suspect they will in 2016 but I could be very wrong.


Oh I don’t doubt that Merc will still have the advantage in 2016, and will likely improve a bit more. However, the potential for others to catch up and be competitive by the end of the season is very real (I’m looking at you Ferrari). That’s the hope anyway.


Doesn’t red bull still need to approve?

Patrick Chapman

This is definitely an improvement on what is currently in place as far as PU’s are concerned. The upside is Honda. Ferrari and Renault have 32 tokens to spend which will allow them to manufacture a more powerful unit. The downside is that Mercedes also have 32 tokens to spend which will likely send them down the road a bit further than the competition. And where in all this does Red Bull fit in? Now the manufacturers can supply old spec engines but will Red Bull accept that. I hope that they do but I doubt that they will. Despite… Read more »


Smells a bit like this is a milestone some manufacturer needed to agree to supply Red Bull. Or to supply “2016” engines to Red Bull but then dumping in all the important updates after the start of the season without needing to supply that to RBR, soothing Mr Mateschitz’s ego but still retaining a crucial advantage.



Tom Firth

Holding off on confirming this as a good thing, it still has to be unanimously approved by all members of the F1 commission before through final approval at the next meeting of the WMSC.

It’s a very positive step for the series to take, hope it goes through the rest the process unhindered.


Its great that development has been opened up, though I don’t see any mention of there being a requirement for manufacturers to provide upgrades to their customers on a timely basis. I can see the likes of Merc and Ferrari using the “reliability” excuse to run upgrades while keeping their customers on the Feb 28 spec, just as Merc’s done this year after Monza. The other decision, allowing old-spec engines, stinks to high heaven. It basically embeds the engine manufacturer works teams as the dominant force in F1 for the foreseeable future. As soon as a privateer gets too uppity… Read more »


can some one explain how the “year old engine supply” issue… is even an issue? when manor is already running a year old engine supply right now?? and most all the talk of RBR and ferrari centered around them refusing to accept this years engine for next year?


Manor was only running a year old engine because that’s all they could afford, and even then it was a struggle for them to make the grid. The teams agreed to allow that one-off supply to Manor in order to keep them in F1. With RBR its a different story – they can afford the latest engines, but the works teams don’t want to supply them for competitive reasons (they don’t want to risk RBR beating them), while being happy to supply those same engines to other teams that aren’t well-resourced enough to present a threat. Hence Manor next year… Read more »

Andreas Möller

Interesting development… in addition to raising the development scope from 25 to 32 tokens, some areas of the engine that was intended to be frozen by now will be left open for development. The original plan was ambitious, and while the first year went ok (remember how we were expecting to see engines blow up left/right during the first half of the season?) this year, at least Renault (for Honda, there obviously are no 2014 figures to compare to) seems to have gone backwards with the reliability. I don’t have any figures on hand, but it feels like the Renault-powered… Read more »

Mike S

I have this sinking feeling…
my hope up till now has been fully resting on the political power of the downshifting Ferrari V8 at the beginning of F1B podcasts..this being the siren’s call for the FIA to returning to the exciting ambiance of a V8 F1 engine at full tilt.
Now i don’t hear any engine at the beginning of the podcasts, which means the turbo 6 must be recorded in the V8’s place.


This change will not really affect costs. The engine manufacturers have been developing non-stop on the dynos, that is where the real money is spent. The engine freeze never really saved the manufacturers much money (if any). All this does is allow them to deploy the upgraded engines sooner.
This is the way it should have been all along.