Renault believes spec parts might solve F1’s cheating

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There is and has always been a strong debate and general concern over formula 1 having certain elements of its technical regulations as specified parts. Mention something about a spec part or element to the support and you get immediately reminded that this is not and never has been a spec series and if you want that sort of nonsense, go watch NASCAR or Indycar.

We could parse the concept of being or having spec pars or regulation elements in F1 but on large part, let’s concede the point and say that the series has never been a spec series. Now, the bigger question is, can it remain that way and still achieve the goals F1’s regulatory body, the FIA, wants to achieve?

The 3-engine rule, reduced fuel load and consumption rates, aerodynamic reliance and more have all been part of the regulatory set since 2014—and much earlier regarding aero-reliance. Still, the notion of adding spec parts or elements to F1 is a point that crops up and as the series looks to 2021, has the technology outrun the ability to have open, cost-effective development?

Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul says that perhaps the spec angle would reduce cheating.

“I don’t want to create a debate here, but I think we need to think how we can help the FIA, regarding the enforceability of the regulations,” Abiteboul said.

“I really believe that the complexity of the engine is such that I would not want to have myself to police it.

“So I think we need to figure that out.

“I really believe that some elements of standardization are not just useful but absolutely necessary if we want to retain some confidence between all the participants.”

Renault feel that the possibility for cheating is there and they’ve out forward a proposal to the FIA regarding spec elements with regards to the engines.

“I think that, frankly, if we wanted to cheat on the current engine, we would know how to do it, and that’s an issue,” he said.

“We are a very large corporation and we would never do such a thing like that, we can’t afford the reputation risk.

“I’m not saying that anyone is cheating, but I think it’d be good to get rid of all the speculation, by doing some local and targeted standardization, and we’ve put forward some proposals in relation to that.”

One topic Cyril doesn’t mention in this entire article is the reduction of cost spec parts might bring and surely that is one of the bigger knock-on effects it might have given the complexity of the current engines. The FIA are very keen to find ways to reduce the cost of F1 and many inside the sport have mentioned this spec parts concept as a way to reduce the cost to participate. Haas F1 entered the sport on a “listed parts” program that allows for acquiring parts from another manufacturer and still remain as a constructor. It has seriously reduced their cost.

Are these reasons compelling enough for F1 to introduce some spec parts in the series? Could we see a spec parts component to the new 2021 regulations as the FIA considers Renault’s proposal? Time will tell but how do you feel about having spec parts in F1?

Hat Tip: Autosport

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Okay, to play devil’s advocate here: Who is making the parts? Renault? Merc? Ferrari? Any engine manufacturer related to or tied closely with the teams is going to introduce a bias, intended or otherwise. Same with chassis, etc. If we’re really going to reduce cheating, then the manufacturer of these parts has to be completely independent and controlled only by the FIA. Let the teams pick out the parts from the manufacturers, no contracts, just buy them off the shelf. Reduce the complication to its most basic form and let them run. I could run a team where the engine… Read more »


It sounds like to these ears Cyril is hedging his bets on the possibility of the present engine specifications remains unchanged beyond 2020. Or does he have many sleepless nights fearing a dramatically new and improved Honda, bolted in the back of another Adrian Newey-penned Red Bull, will run with the Big 3? He may suggest this idea at the next Strategy Working Group meeting but the response will be very mute, even when it’s framed up as great cost cutting and, of course, the manufacturers will push back, too. But let’s not forget the other part of the statement:… Read more »

Tom Firth

Two parts to this, spec parts wise I think we can have some beyond the rain light, the ERS light, the ECU and the other two or three parts that the FIA dictates in areas of the car that even the most ardent fan isn’t particularly interested in to reduce a few costs. I don’t however agree with the idea of spec parts in areas were the manufacturers and teams invest in serious levels of intellectual property development, so the aero and engine development should be exclusive within a manufacturer and need to know for customers of said manufacturer. I… Read more »

Bob Dompe

For Renault: IN RE cheating…Crashgate.

Alianora La Canta

Given how the FIA does spec parts, I seriously doubt and cost reduction would come from it, so it doesn’t surprise me Cyril doesn’t claim to see that happening. Also, if the engines are such that the FIA can no longer enforce their regulation, then the engine format has to be simplified. Dramatically. Not just by a spec part here or there, but by the reduction of psuedopolitical ambition that the advocates of non-hybrid engines have been demanding for years. The FIA has resisted on the grounds of road relevance, but if spec parts are being proposed, then that suggests… Read more »