With the three-engine limit in 2018, we’ve discussed the idea of teams taking a new engine in Australia and immediately moving their engine total to four for the season-just like they had last year. In fact, we thought it would be funny if all the teams agreed to take the new engine at Australia and giving everyone some breathing room for the 2018 engine penalty chaos that could ensue.
Having said that, I think Mercedes and Ferrari would be reticent to play along as they must feel their reliability is good and the engine penalty is a tactical advantage that can play out over the course of a season.
If you couple that with the thought that maybe Australia isn’t the place you would take the additional engine-perhaps it would be better to take that at Spa or mid-season after you’ve developed it more.
However, if you consider Toro Rosso and their mission to develop their Honda relationship this season and help the Japanese engine manufacturer create a more competitive engine, then this may be an intriguing thought. At least that’s what team boss Franz Tost is thinking as Autosport points out:
“There will come the period where we have to find out if is it better to start with a new power unit from the back instead of using an engine that will have 3000-4000 kilometres on it, and you start losing power after one or two hundred kilometres,” he told Autosport.
“So we will see. But I can tell you now that we will have this discussion. I don’t know when, but we will have it.”
Tost is no fan of the three-engine rule and now with more races on the calendar, it makes even less sense to him:
“Last year manufacturers tried with four engines and less races, and this year we have more races and less engines,” he said.
“I must only say they are totally crazy with this regulation.
“But Ferrari was against it [changing the rules], because others wanted to go with four.
“They [Ferrari] think they have an advantage with three. And it is within the regulations so we have to live with it.
“We have to accept it and how many power units at the end we will need I don’t know.”
You have to couch that statement as one made from a team that doesn’t make their engine, of course, and also consider that Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault would view this as part of their tactical advantage.
Clearly Autosport has been asking other folks about the concept of taking an additional engine and intriguingly enough, my assertion about Renault could be wrong. They may find it advantageous as well if the reduced power output of the engine toward the end of its working life is drastically down.
Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul said: “We want to establish the baseline, we want to know a bit more about ourselves, the performance of the engine as it is right now.
“If it’s better for everyone to use four power units or four V6s, rather than three, we may take that decision. But it’s really too early to talk about that.”
That’s an interesting thought and one that Tost says needs deliberate discussion within the team.