Red Bull, Melbourne, 2014

Engine unfreeze for 2015 passes Strategy Group vote

2015 F1 season

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Red Bull, Melbourne, 2014Plans to relax rules which prevent teams from upgrading their power units during the season have moved a step closer following their approval by the F1 Strategy Group.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the group, which only featured representatives from six of the eleven F1 teams, had produced a majority vote in favour of the change.

“We had a strategy meeting and it’s been voted on a majority basis to go through to the Formula One Commission for in-season upgrades to be allowed,” said Horner in today’s press conference.

“So we’ll see what the outcome of the formula commission vote is. FIA are in support, FOM are in support, obviously non-Mercedes teams are in support, so we’ll see what that holds in approximately a month’s time.”

For the regulations to be approved they must be passed by the Formula One Commission with a unanimous vote, which could present an opportunity for rival teams such as Mercedes to block the move.

However Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci remains a staunch advocate of loosening the regulations.

“Just the word ‘frozen’ engines, this is not Formula One, to talk about frozen engines,” he said.

“I agree with Christian, today with have the majority of the vote to move ahead and to unfreeze the engine. Let’s see what’s going to happen during the F1 Commission.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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49 comments on “Engine unfreeze for 2015 passes Strategy Group vote”

  1. Good… I don’t like frozen engines… even if it’s more expensive lthis way I like to see progress and cars getting faster…

    1. @fer-no65 It’s an odd one. I love to see development, and with these new engines it’s definitely something I’m happy about, but at the same time the costs make it difficult, and being in the middle of a crisis doesn’t help. Granted, the engine manufacturers probably have more money to play with, but you get the point.

      Definitely okay with it from specifically a competition point of view, and can’t wait to see what they can get these engines doing.

      1. @philereid I agree completely. But I hope they all manage to make it work… I didn’t like last year’s engines being 6 years old for instance… but I can understand the cons…

      2. Crisis are artificial. There are more individuals who “earn” billions on our account. Ask Bernie.

    2. I also don’t like frozen engines because they melt fast when they are fired up.

    3. Me too, but given the choice between frozen engine development and engines being developed to artificial equality as the 2.4 V8s were I’ll take the current option every time.
      For me it’s a great pity that the engine architecture was so strictly prescribed, given the opportunity to develop (copy) it’s likely that the end results will be very similiar right through the rev range unlike the different strengths and weakness’ we used to see when their were V12,V10,and V8 engines all racing together. Imagine if the current underpowered Renault or Ferrari engine had much better low speed torque than the Mercedes and how that would relate to different tracks, far more interesting than having 1 engine superior throughout the rev range. In conclusion any difference in engine performance is better than parity, and if it changes from race to race so much the better.

    4. I doubt anyone could tell the difference if all cars had 100hp more or less. There were no fuzz about the cars being slow 20 years ago, were doing laptimes 10 sec. slower than today.

    5. Getting faster….
      Nobody could tell the difference if all cars had 100hp more or less. There were no fuzz about the cars being slow 20 years ago lapping 10sec slower…

  2. This is the right thing to do.

  3. Find myself agreeing with this. There should be competition between drivers, engineers, aero designers, pit crews and engine manufactures. There should also be competition between tyre suppliers with cars able to change between them for each race.

    I understand that this is not conducive to lowering costs, and that some teams will certainly feel a pinch, but F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motor sport. I don’t like it when one team dominates, but I like it less when other teams are ‘locked in’ to inferior designs. Lets give it a few years of the new tech before we talk of engine homogenisation.

    1. Let’s never again talk of engine homogenisation.

  4. Please let the natural way of evolution to go on. Everything moves forward and F1 use to be the most extreme way of fast going forward.

  5. Wow, that’s unexpected. Mercedes then must be quite confident they’ve found enough potential to stay ahead of the field.

    1. Blah, ignor my comment. Previous Autosport titles and this one led me to believe there was an unanimous agreement. Actually reading the article made me realize there wasn’t.

      1. Glad you did it first, because I was about to do the same thing. I was taking it as a sign that Toto and Co. are worried about Honda. Not headlineworthy until it gets the unanimous approval of the teams.

    2. Doesn’t matter– Mercedes has a much, much larger team working on their engine development than either Ferrari or Renault.

      As a result, I think Ferrari and Renault (and potentially Honda) are *really* going to get smacked hard next year.

  6. F1 has never been about equal equipment and fairness across the board, this will just make some gaps bigger. However I am all for it, as how a car develops is far more interesting than media finding or making a story out of nothing but speculation and occasional gossip.

  7. Good.
    Now, can the Strategy Group vote itself out of existence?

    1. This.
      I haven’t seen a single change they voted through that gave me confidence this group is looking at improving F1 for everything and ensuring its durability.

      Instead it bows easily to Bernies whims, empowers the haves and is a huge roadblock to striving for lowering cost of competing. Apart from having a very questionable base for its power.

    2. ColdFly F1 (@)
      11th October 2014, 11:17

      @bullfrog @bascb, +1
      Probably the same group that voted the engine freeze in initially.

      1. Nah, that still was the F1 commission based on work from the technical working group on the rules proposed by the FIA. But the F1 commission will hopefully veto this (Mercedes teams all can veto it)

  8. Although in principle I support not having and engine freeze I think the way this is being done is typical of F1 and absolutely wrong. If having an engine freeze is inherently wrong how come Ferrari and Red Bull only suddenly started campaigning for it now when they just happen to have done a worse job of designing their engines. The engine freeze decision was taken at the right time (i.e. when the engine rules were established) and having done that this should not be revisited at the moment. The freeze should be reconsidered in terms of the end of the current freeze timetable. This decision is not being taken in a sporting way but in a way designed to intentionally benefit two manufacturers at the expense of another and in that sense to make this decision now is akin to success ballast which is not something we want to see in F1.

    If they really believe that an engine freeze is wrong then they should set a timetable for the freeze to be lifted some time at the end of the current phased freeze period which means the decision is taken at a time when it is not known who is likely to benefit most/least from the change.

    What I don’t understand, most of all, is how the heck the FIA supported the unfreeze when cost control is supposed to be their big drive.

    1. Indeed, Mercedes should expect compensation, they invested and out developed their rivals expecting the freeze to be in place for the defined period. Renault and Ferrari are effectively trying to “buy out” of the original contact, and should pay Mercedes accordingly )

      1. They’re walking it this year,that’s pretty good compensation. To suggest that other teams should be paying Merc for it changing regulations is beyond ridiculous. If they (Merc) screwed up on the engine they would be wanting to unfreeze as well, its the nature of the world that people with an advantage want to protect it while people without it want it gone. F1 is about competition so why not help it be more competitive? Also something to think about is the bad PR Renault and Ferrari get form under-performing so badly which in turn will affect their will to continually invest in F1. Everyone in F1 wants to make money/use it as a PR platform and if the sport cannot provide that than the people running it are failing badly.

    2. @jerseyf1 I agree with the principles you state. But a codified structural disadvantage is not healthy to the longterm interest of any sport, or business relationship for that matter. I think they are trying to fix an the real-world problem that it was completely unanticipated that one manufacturer’s solution would dominate to this degree. This is a previously unexplored experiment in powertrain design involving much more of the performance of the car than just the engine parameters of old, including braking, car balance under braking, etc. Whenever you have a new experiment, it is in the best interest of the health of the collective sport that there should be leeway for correcting things if someone gets the experiment completely wrong. “Institutionalizing” a significant design deficit due to an untried formula is not in the best longterm interest of the sport, and while sticking to it may be contractually sound, it’s not sporting in the spirit of the word. It happens often in new business contracts that there is a “trial period” built into a new relationship so if egregious structural unfairness demonstrates itself it can be remedied early through new negotiations. This type of concept should have been built into the original negotiations on the new powertrain formula. Since it wasn’t, I think this is the best solution for the sport collectively. Mercedes compensation is that they have run away with this season and have a huge head start no matter what other teams do. Providing other agreed to compensation may also be fair.

      1. Mark in Florida
        11th October 2014, 12:48

        All of this is funny in a way. Renault pushed for this particular engine formula so did Mercedes to their credit only Ferrari tried to fight it. Now that Renault has been shown to have dropped the ball on their engine design they want a do over. My question is this if they can technically change up to 46% of the engine components next year why do they need to unfreeze the engine regulations? Is their fundamental design so bad that they need to rip off someone else’s hard work to try and catch up? Why do they bother with these stupid regulations to begin with. Why not have unrestricted engine regulations like Can Am did. That way we wouldn’t have all of this hypocrisy. Mercedes played by the rules and the other teams are basically trying to undermine the rules that they all agreed to. Apparently Mercedes did the R&D work for F1 this year. McLaren has shown that a world beating engine does not equal a world beating car you still have to have a chassis that can take advantage of the power.

    3. If having an engine freeze is inherently wrong how come Ferrari and Red Bull only suddenly started campaigning for it now when they just happen to have done a worse job of designing their engines.

      That implies Red Bull design their own engines.

      They are a team that have every reason to campaign for in-season development, as they suffered immensely for it despite having no prior control over their fortunes.

  9. Happy to see the power unit freeze lifted, but don’t believe Renault or Ferrari will close the gap to Mercedes; Mercedes clearly have more money to spend which is why their power unit is so much better. How much further ahead will they be once they sink another 100 million in :)

    1. It hasn’t been lifted yet, as it says in the article.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        11th October 2014, 11:24

        @keithcollantine, another PU question for you.
        Can Ferrari move to ‘FIAT’ engines next year, and have one that is up to 100% different from the current engine.
        (Some for Red Bull moving to Dacia engines)

        1. In theory they could (the issue was brought up when rumours of a “new” Red Bull engine built in the Renault plant came up). But the FIA has the power to refuse such an engine that is clearly an attempt to circumvent the rules, and I think the other engine Manufacturers have a say in it too @coldfly

          1. ColdFly F1 (@)
            12th October 2014, 11:26

            @bascb, thanks mate for elaborating.

  10. Merc will still destroy Rbull people live in fantasy, Merc have the best chassis aswell as engine. Check first sector of qually in Suzuka gap was huge and Red Bull stacked the DF for a wet race and were barely quicker.

    Monaco, Cataluna tells me it is not just the engine. Merc probably do not even go all out in the races either except when they need too. Look at Singapore the gap Ham built.

    1. More power means the possibility of using higher downforce setups. Only with equal power one could say for sure which chassis is the best. Plus, Red Bull must accomodate the design constraints due to a bigger power unit. Without them, their chassis would be even better.

    2. do you seriously believe Mercedes made up 2 seconds a lap to redbull in the course of a winter break through chassis change? Mercedes have a 80-100hp over redbull and Ferrari, that advantage propels the car faster then their competitors in any downforce, high or low – extra power like that
      is worth more then extra downforce with the finely tuned machines f1 cars are these days – Renault and Ferrari powered cars are hurting through no fault of their own, just a stupid system that implemented engine freeze after a mere 12 days testing. one engine manufacturer was bound to have an advantage and Mercedes lucked into it, neither of the manufacturers predicted the big gap. engine homologation works only when the engine manufacturers have developed to a level playing field – that is why it worked in v8 era.
      it has become a 2 tier f1 – hence why Williams can now compete with the top teams. McLaren is the one bucking the trend, their chassis has gone backwards, and if it was a level playing field engine wise, they would be even further back, like at the start of 2009.

      1. @kpcart I think it is wrong to say Mercedes lucked into having an engine advantage, it was rumoured throughout 2013 that Mercedes already had a significant advantage in the progress that they had made with the development of their engine and the other manufacturers clearly did not take heed. While I accept red bull were perhaps a bit unlucky in that they could not directly influence the development of their engine, it is absolutely ferraris own fault that their engine lacks in comparison to the competition, ferrari had all the same opportunities as Mercedes possibly even greater having their engine department and chassis department under the same roof, and yet they clearly failed to invest sufficient money and man power to the development of a new engine formula that they knew about years in advance, and they were well aware how important it was to be competitive from the get go due to engine homologation being enforced. In terms of the Renault and Ferrari non works cars they surely had every opportunity to choose the engine supplier that they thought would come into 2014 in the strongest position, as is demonstrated by Williams who were clearly convinced Mercedes were the best option going forward early in 2013, it is the luck of the draw, sauber could have made the switch yet they clearly felt confident in Ferrari and now they are paying the price for that. Another factor is that by convincing more teams to join them, Mercedes were able to gain significantly more mileage throughout those mere first 12 days and they were surely able to make more last minute upgrades than the competition. There is nothing lucky about them convincing teams like Williams to join them, it is merely them doing a superior job of marketing themselves as a supplier to the customer teams.

      2. So… why isn’t McLaren, Williams, or Force India as fast as the W05? Face it– The W02, W03 and W04 were all “test mules” for the W05. McLaren could, in theory, catch up, depending on just how good Prodromou is, and how much influence he has on the new chassis.

      3. “Ferrari powered cars are hurting through no fault of their own”
        Lol, This was hilarious. Um..NO. They are hurting through their fault and only their fault. Ferrari openly admitted the mistakes it made with its engine design. But also Ferrari have been getting a lot of ‘extra help’ that no other teams get or have ever had. They should be thoroughly embarrassed with their effort with what they receive over and above every other team.

        Redbull were a little unlucky, however to say “no fault of their own” is pretty naive. Redbull have a lot of input and involvement with Renault when designing and building their engines. In this industry you are never a ‘customer’ in the traditional sense. You don’t just ‘buy’ an engine off the shelf and hope for the best.

        Don’t fool yourselves into believing this is about engine ‘development’, it’s about copying what Mercedes have done with the turbo split and all the flow on effects this had on the packaging of the engine and the aero effect this superior packaging bought.

        This idea may have taken years to occur to the other teams had Mercedes not thought of it, and let the info out.

        “Mercedes were able to gain significantly more mileage throughout those mere first 12 days”
        Yes of course they did, but these were test days for an engine that had been in development for ~2 years. They were much further advanced than the other teams coming into that test, so only stands to reason they would end the test the same way.

        I’m not against some in season engine development, but this is solely about copying and nothing more. All the teams have argued similar things in the past about the dominant team of the day. It was against Redbull in recent years and Ferrari before that. Don’t get me wrong, in some of these instances it was warranted, but on this occasion Mercedes just beat them fair and square. Suck it up and wait until next year.

  11. I hope Renault and Ferrari spend another £100 million developing their engines only to find they’re still behind Mercedes.

    1. Ferrari will definately spend a lot on engine-development to catch up to Mercedes.
      But I truly doubt Renault will. They don’t want to catch up at any cost. That’s why they didn’t spend that much on this year’s power unit(s). Looks like F1 isn’t that important to Renault anymore. If it was, they would’ve spent significantly more money on their F1-engine-project.

      1. … and kept their factory team.

      2. Reanault actually did spend a fortune. They were well ahead on the straight 4 inline turbo engine, until it got cancelled and the Turbo V6 was chosen instead.

        What they did wrong was to make 3 different engines and spread their resources thin.

        Renault specifically droppend their own team so they could apply themselves to being the engine manufacturer for F1.

  12. Teams spend countless millions on itty bitty aero geegaws and doodads, yet they are not allowed to develop “power units”. This idiocy must stop.

  13. How will the upgraded engines be introduced with the 4 engines per car rule for 2015?

  14. Just knock it off with all the restrictions to try and save money and impose a budget limit instead.

    I know some teams claim it’s impossible, but of course that’s just politics. Pretty sure they can report to their bosses or the tax people, so why not to the FIA.

    At the very least it will limit the current asymmetrical budgets somewhat, but most of all it would let the teams decide how to spend their budget. It’s much more economical to spend the money on the areas that potentially give the biggest gains.

  15. Considering these engines were supposedly made for research purposes (being more comparable to road car engines), having a development freeze never made sense from that point of view.

    1. no one at the top thought this through, they ruined what was good engine power parity amongst the teams in v8 era, made heaps of new costs in developing these engines untested in an f1 car, gave them 12 days track testing, where no manufacturer would have time to adjust their designs in that small time frame – locked them in, locking in an advantage to one manufacturer over the rest – made F1 cars have one of the most boring, un-racing sounding exhaust sounds in recent history of any top-tier racing series. the road car parity is non existent, lemans is better suited for that, and they are doing much more in that series for that aspect then f1, lemans is increasing its popularity, while f1’s popularity is falling. It worked out good for 2 types of people though, Hamilton and Rosberg fans, while other equal or better drivers are being hampered by “not enough power” and are unable to compete equally.

      1. Engine parity with great sound ? Hmmm… No thanks, F1 is a development series with the engine at its heart, give me variety, I don’t care how it sounds.

      2. And yet you throw praise on the ACO at a time when they are also introducing testing restrictions on the LMP1 class and have already been running engine homologation rules for longer than F1 has.

        Speaking of engine parity regulations, you are aware that the head of Aston Martin’s racing division has said that the Balance of Performance regulations that the ACO has introduced is actually limiting development in the WEC?

        A classic example was where Ferrari introduced a new fuel injection system on the 458 that improved their fuel consumption, giving them a strategic advantage because they could run longer stints.
        The ACO immediately cut Ferrari’s fuel allowance to artificially hobble them, and ever since then Ferrari has not pursued any further development of their fuel injection system because the ACO has made it clear that they’ll simply keep cutting Ferrari’s fuel allowance.

        The ACO might give out the image that it is promoting development, but in reality the performance balancing regulations seem to be discouraging certain teams from pursuing developments that they know the ACO will either rule out or intentionally negate in order to forcibly level out the field again.

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