Why Mercedes should block F1’s engine ‘unfreeze’


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When F1’s radical new engine regulations were introduced for 2014 there was always a chance one manufacturer would come up with a significantly better solution than the rest and enjoy a highly successful season.

So it has proved with Mercedes, who in the early stages of the year had the largest performance advantage over their rivals F1 had seen for 16 years.

That inevitably shocked Renault and Ferrari, who have redoubled their efforts to close the gap in 2015. And this work hasn’t just been going on in their factories.

‘Frozen’ engines

It has taken the form of a public relations campaign focused on changing F1’s rules in a way which they hope will bring them closer to Mercedes. Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Ferrari’s Marco Mattiacci have strenuously criticised F1’s ‘engine freeze’ at any given opportunity.

“Just the word ‘frozen’ engines, this is not Formula One, to talk about frozen engines,” said Mattiacci in Sochi. This is a classic PR tactic: framing the debate in the language which best suits your point of view.

Talking about ‘frozen’ engines suggests there is no room for any degree of development in the current engine specification, much as was the case with F1’s V8 engines between 2007 and 2013. But that is not the case.

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The FIA regulations show just 8% of the power unit specifications will be frozen next year. That won’t rise above a quarter until after 2017. A 95% freeze, comparable to the restrictions during V8 era, is still five years away. Therefore there is already considerable scope for engine development, and talk of engine specifications already being ‘frozen’ is wide of the mark.

For the purposes of the rules the power units are classified in 66 separate components, of which 61 may be changed, and manufacturers are permitted to alter up to 32 (48% of the engine by weight) for next season. This will also be tightened over the following years, but again it’s not until 2019 that something close to a true ‘freeze’ on development will be realised.

The current engine specification is not ‘frozen’, it is being frozen in stages. Of course the rules weren’t written this way by accident – it was done for sound reasons. The first items to be frozen are chiefly the conventional aspects of the engine, encouraging teams to prioritise work on their energy recovery systems – the very aspect of engine development which is so attractive to the like of 2015 newcomers Honda.

Closing off development opportunities in other areas, and restricting how often teams can introduce new engines, is intended to help control costs. The paramount importance of this should be lost on no one given the financial problems which have pushed Caterham to the brink of collapse and the repeated warnings from other struggling teams.

But at a recent meeting of the Strategy Group – the controversial body which represents a small number of F1’s wealthiest teams – a majority vote approved a plan to allow exactly this to happen.

At present teams can introduce engine upgrades at the beginning of each season, but under the Strategy Group proposal they would be permitted to do so throughout the year. A two-car team using four power units per season would therefore get up to six additional opportunities to introduce new components.

Logically this would have to cause an enormous increase in development and manufacturing costs. This is a point Mercedes has made, and although Ferrari has contradicted it, in the absence of any guarantee that vulnerable smaller teams will not receive higher engine bills we should not take this at face value.

And to what end is all this being done? Mercedes would have the same opportunity to develop their engine, and who’s to say they would not match or even exceed their rivals’ development rate? It is far from certain an ‘unfreeze’ would lead to closer racing at the front of the field.

For Mercedes’ rivals to get their way the ‘unfreeze’ requires the unanimous approval of the F1 Commission, on which Mercedes has a vote. This has led to perhaps the most amusing phase of the PR war, with Red Bull and Ferrari alternately making attempts to entice or shame Mercedes into siding with them ‘for the good of the sport’.

Where, one wonders, was their selfless concern for the future of F1 three years ago when they swung a wrecking ball into the Formula One Teams’ Association, derailing its efforts at cost reduction, so they could sign lucrative commercial deals with Bernie Ecclestone? No one should be fooled by their crocodile tears.

Teams can gain performance without an ‘unfreeze’

Away from the PR war, Ferrari’s own technical staff admit the current staged engine freeze is not a serious obstacle to them being able to catch Mercedes. “It’s true you can’t change every part of the engine,” said technical director James Allison in September, “but the regulations say the majority of parts that can make a difference in terms of performance on the engine are still free.”

“The 48% is not a binding figure and can be misleading compared to what are the real opportunities to improve the power output of the power unit. The way is completely open when it comes to the rules.”

F1’s staged engine freeze is a rare example of a sensible compromise between its need to operate at the cutting edge of technology yet constrain costs in a way which will prevent its competitors from spending the sport to destruction. It is a nuanced solution to a complex problem.

Taking the lid off engine development would lead to a huge increase in costs which few teams can bear at the moment. In many ways the real question here should be why it has fallen to a team to defend it. At a time when there are very real fears about F1 grid sizes falling, the sport’s governing body and commercial arm should not be contemplating another hike in engine costs.

Nonetheless, if Mercedes care most about protecting the future of the sport, they should block a relaxation of the engine freeze. And if Mercedes care most about protecting their hard-won position at the front of the pack, they should block a relaxation of the engine freeze.


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Images © Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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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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117 comments on “Why Mercedes should block F1’s engine ‘unfreeze’”

  1. Great article.

    I have to say that I, personally, favour a more open specification, with much more room for development in all areas. However, given the current financial situation*, this is unrealistic. We would have half the grid dropping like flies, and end up with either 3-4 car teams (eurgh!) or customer teams (even more eurgh!).

    *The current financial situation mainly brought about by the ridiculous financial distribution imposed by Bernie and FOM, which is slowly killing our entire sport. If this were fixed, we would be in a position to allow much more development with less risk of teams going belly-up.

    1. Whether it’s as true as we’d like, I’m not sure, but at least somewhat it would make it a better, healthier competition.

    2. @drmouse, my position exactly, no need for me to comment further except to remark on the lovely euphemism for bribery “lucrative commercial deals”.

  2. @keithcollantine That’s the first time I’ve seen

    The FIA regulations show just 8% of the power unit specifications will be frozen next year. That won’t rise above a quarter until after 2017. A 95% freeze, comparable to the restrictions during V8 era, is still five years away. Therefore there is already considerable scope for engine development, and talk of engine specifications already being ‘frozen’ is wide of the mark.

    . Nice one!

  3. Its Hammer Time
    24th October 2014, 11:57

    I’d normally consider myself up to date with F1 regs/ topical news, but I had no idea so much of the new engines development were unfrozen out of season. This excites me for next year, as it sounds as though Redbull/ Ferrari/ Mclaren have experimental development PU parts sat on the dyno ready to bolt in but cant test until the season is over. 2015 could be a completely different running order. Exciting

    1. I find it very hard to believe that Mercedes would lose the massive PU advantage they have in just 1 year, Given that both Ferrari & Renault only spent a little less time in developing their PU’s than Mercedes (about a year). I wont say they “will” catch up as there is nothing to say they will, Just as no other team really caught up with RB areo in the past 4ish years. They may catch up or they may not. However whether they do or not it’s down right laughable for both Ferrari & Red Bull to tow the “Good for the sport” line when they have both made decisions and cast votes that have continually damaged the sport. The F1 rules are fantastic until you start losing, then they need to be changed. You also can have the best engine and still be nowhere, Look at Mclaren, another disappointing season despite having the best PU. Mercedes haven’t won the championship simply because it has the best PU, it’s because they have a great over all car.

      1. Red Bull still have a better Aero and Chassis this year, and even next year Red Bull will still have a better Aero and Chassis than Mercedes, Once Red Bull have the pace they will be back to being the best cause they still have the best Aero and Chassis and they will also have the best Aero and Chassis next year.

        1. But if their chassis and aero are so superior to those of Mercedes, how come they still run the inferior nose? It’s one of the crucial aero parts in 2014.

        2. Are you suggesting that Red Bull might have the best Aero & Chassis?

        3. Red Bull certainly have a good chassis and aero package, but even in races where the PU plays an inferior role to a good chassis and area package RB still haven’t captialised. In reality the wins RB have got this year have all been gifted to them through Merc unreliability or Nico crashing into Lewis. Look at Monaco & Singapore? Spain? Which they said was am Newey circuit? They were no where near the Mercs in terms of pace, where the strengths of a good chassis and aero package combined with good mechanic grip is key.

          RB on the right track are the second best team at the moment, which they share with Williams or on occassion Ferrari/Mclaren (lately) and in the early part of the season Force India.

          There really is no evidence that consistently shows that RB have the best Aero and chassis package. That one, this season is with Mercedes. And with Adrian Newey on his way out of F1, it’s all down to his no.2’s after 2015. That’s not forgetting the no.2’s that Mercedes have already lured away from RB.

          Having said that, it doesn’t really matter all that much, F1 for the last 4 years has been an Aero formula, it’s now a PU formula. On that score, RB are at the bottom of the pack, although nowhere near as far off as Mr Horner would have people believe. RB will always be there, but to there is no evidence so far that they will be back on top and dominating once again with some extra power.

  4. Great article, I admit the talks of an engine “freeze” fooled me and I assumed it was a similar freeze as experienced in the V8 era. It almost seems like a ploy to gain support from the uninformed to use the same term for two Very different concepts.

    It’s great to have this clarified. I agree that open development throughout the season is a horrible idea. I’m not surprised Ferrari are pushing for this but surprised Red Bull are. Horner usually has more sense that that :S

    1. Agree – great at placing things in context of the language being used…

      However, if F1 claims to be the pinnacle of motor sport, why the freeze at all. If the sport is expensive, would that not be the definition of pinnacle? Following this “logic” any freeze in development contradicts the term pinnacle. Any freeze on development inhibits team’s ability to catch Merc…period. Otherwise explain why its there and why Merc is the only team to want it to remain?

      Merc explaining their position to hide behind the freeze is like Apple explaining the new iPhone is state of the art – its all spin. I’d think Merc as a company would be embarrassed to admit they can not compete openly without a freeze…

      F1 needs to make up its mind – A) be the cutting edge of racing that can draw a fan base that can support the investment the teams and sponsors make, or B) maximize the marketing engine by getting enough body panels on the track to put a maximum amount of money in Bernie’s pocket. Lets be honest as to what is going on here.

      Economic theory suggests no one is ever helped by value consuming regulation except those imposing the regulation…same holds here. It boils down to money in the F1 owners pockets – not the fact we may loose teams…

      1. “I’d think Merc as a company would be embarrassed to admit they can not compete openly without a freeze…”

        And what are you basing this on?

      2. did you read the article?

  5. Its not really about how much is frozen, its about what exactly is frozen. If a critical item is frozen, then I believe it should be unfrozen in order to increase competition.

    1. According to the linked article only
      Upper/lower crankcase: Cylinder bore spacing, deck height, bank stagger.
      Crankshaft: Crank throw, main bearing journal diameter, rod bearing journal diameter.
      Air valve system: Including compressor, air pressure regulation devices.

      Honestly they are the most basic engine components, if any of the manufacturers got them wrong to the point where they seriously hinder performance, they deserve to suffer their consequences (this is not the first time any of the have built an engine…)

      1. I am sure each one of them has that right, the problem is the turbo charging and its configuration – and to change that configuration Ferrari and Renault probably need to alter the whole engine to optimise the package and get on level par with Mercedes. so I don’t agree with the article, Ferrari and Renault have probably already done the maths and worked out they cant claw back enough power. then there is the issue of installation, and with only 12 days testing again, that could be problems again for customer teams. they should have just left the v8s, instead of wasting money on these engines. the v8s sounded better and we could atleast see who built the best car, and teams didn’t need to waste money in the ofseasons rebuilding their engines.

      2. Correct. The frozen specifications should not need to be changed. If they do, they have made critical, basic errors.

        The fact that Ferrari and Red Bull are arguing suggests that either;
        a) they have made such a fundamental error that you have to question whether they have ever built a race engine before, or
        b) they just want to cause a stink and throw mud.

      3. @skipgamer, exactly right, so tight was the specification for the ICE that they could be built by Mahindra or Briggs and Sratton, after all you can buy a roadgoing motorcycle with a 1300cc 4 cylinder engine that develops maximum power at higher revs than these 1600cc 6 cyl engines, and you get a nice long warranty.

        @kpcart, There are plenty of formulae with no engine difference, that is not F1, F1 is and has always, except for the 2.4 V8 abberation, been a development formula and only recently has aero development trumped engine development

    2. Your can’t make a rule that everyone agrees with, and then when it doesn’t go your way say that it should be changed? I know you’re a staunch Ferrari fan and all that, but that simply isn’t fair. They should have done a better job in the first place when they knew exactly what the rules would be for 2014 and 2015.

      You may disagree with the idea of the ‘part’ engine freeze, but that’s simply not the point – it was signed up to, Mercedes did the best job in the circumstances and Ferrari and Renault didn’t. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

  6. I completely disagree. For one, manufacturers building engines for Formula 1 are very much able to deal with higher costs. In fact, I bet Renault would’ve loved to be able to really improve their PU this year because the way things are, it’s a commercial disaster for them. With Caterham on the brink of folding, it’s not hard to imagine they might’ve been able to do better this year if they were in posession of the Mercedes PU. Betting on the wrong horse shouldn’t cost you this much, presumably a whole lot more than the higher costs per PU they’ll have to pay during a season.

    It’s ridiculous teams can spend millions every race on improving aerodynamics (read: the tiniest flaps with no further purpose at all) and can not improve engines, improvements that are very much usable to car manufacturers.

    Worst of all, Honda decided to come back and did so just in time. No other manufacturer will join Formula 1 in years to come, because everyone will have been able to develop their engine in previous years while they’re stuck with a frozen spec engine from the start. Way to go FIA, shooting yourself in the foot. Again.

    1. Agreed – the sport is out of balance because it has fallen into the trap of the regulation game. Artificial constraints and lawyers are now the driving force versus the “formula”… The FIA needs to regulate less and allow economics to sort out the team issues…

      1. Totally agree. F1 needs no regulations apart from safety ones. Just tell them what engine and the max dimensions of the car, let them have at it.

        1. In an ideal world, yes ! But F1 operates in a far from ideal world.

    2. Again, you may get people agreeing with you but its too late for this debate.

      These objections should have been raised with the FIA before they signed up to it. It doesn’t matter that the part-freeze was the wrong thing to do – it was agreed upon, and Mercedes did a heck of a lot of good work compromising their 2012 and 2013 campaigns for 2014 and 2015 no doubt, and that’s what we should be stuck with.


      1. its not too late for the debate, all the teams and the FIA are pushing for an unfreeze, f1 is also losing fans.

        1. The racing this year has been some of the best in recent years. People aren’t stopping watching or attending GP’s based on an engine freeze.

          1. You may think one team coasting and yet still winning effectively every race (the only races where they haven’t won are down to weather, driving into each other, and a solitary parts failure of a non-engine-related part) to be “the best” racing you’ve seen. I don’t, and nor do many other F1 fans.

            When you say people haven’t stopped watching, you’re just plain wrong. I’ve not missed a race for a quarter-century, but I stopped watching early on this year, when it was clear Merc would have a homologated advantage all year. (Frankly, it was obvious in pre-season testing that no other team would be close on track unless Merc turned the wick down to provide the pretense of closer racing.)

            This year has been a terrible, sick joke. That’s best demonstrated by the fact that Williams — a team that has been a hopeless shell of itself for more than a decade — is instantly and quite consistently doing well enough to vault itself into third place, solely due to their fortunate choice of engine. (And every Merc team is ahead of every non-Merc team, with the sole exception of the works Renault and Ferrari teams whose budget [and hence aero] are good enough to make up a chunk of the vast engine deficit.)

    3. “manufacturers building engines for Formula 1 are very much able to deal with higher costs”

      And surely pass those costs on to the teams you later say are struggling.

      1. why? they wont make up an 80hp deficit with hours in the wind tunnel.

        1. They should be a lot closer next year now that they know how Mercedes did it, engine development follows the law of diminishing returns. Mercedes deserve their success by doing the best job within the regulations.

    4. Couldn’t agree more. I stopped watching F1 this year when the season was barely 1/4 over, and it was clear that the whitewash we’d expected pre-season would happen. This is the first year in almost a quarter-century that I haven’t watched because it is so utterly paint-drying boring knowing which teams will do best simply because of a gigantic engine advantage. My entire involvement in F1 at this point is that I check the news once every few weeks (which is why I’m replying two days late.)

      F1 Fanatic have completely missed the point here, or are closet Merc fans who can’t see past that to the harm this is doing to the sport.

      When engine homologation was introduced, the manufacturers were first brought to approximate parity. That made homologation, while still somewhat distasteful to a true fan, at least somewhat fair. What we have now is anything but. One engine manufacturer has a gigantic advantage over all its rivals, and while it is true that much of the formula can be changed *POST*-season, what has gone soaring over F1 Fanatic’s head is that the entire kit and kaboodle are homologated and can’t be changed (except for a handful of reasons, with approval from the FIA and in some cases, rivals) *DURING* the season.

      In other words, Merc have had a colossal, unassailable, regulated and homologated advantage all season. Every other manufacturer has effectively been racing with one hand tied behind their back. That is not what racing is about.

      Whether or not a manufacturer can catch up post-season is of zero importance. As a Red Bull fan, I’d be just as disheartened to see Renault leapfrog the competition and have a regulated, homologated advantage for all of next year, too.

      Frankly, either the engines should be brought to approximate parity in terms of performance and reliability and *then* homologated, or better still we should admit that at the point an engine is homologated there’s no point pretending to make this an engine formula, and give everybody spec engines. Obviously, the best alternative is to get rid of this farcical homologation-to-save-money nonsense, and force Bernie to give the teams a fair share of the TV money with which to sustain themselves, rather than pocketing it all for himself.

      Homologation in 2014 is the end result of a bad rule run amok. It’s just not worth watching F1 any more. I will give it a brief try again next year, and if we see any one manufacturer (I don’t care whom) with a huge, homologated advantage, I will probably give up permanently.

  7. Great article, I agree, and if the teams with weaker power units don’t like it, they have options: Improve their power units under the rules they agreed to, or buy Mercedes engines, much like almost everyone migrated to the DFV many years ago.

    1. Except they can’t buy Merc engines. Red Bull could wave a fortune at Merc and they wouldn’t be given a meeting, let alone an engine. Same for almost every other team out there. And the advantage is homologated through year’s end.

      If somehow Renault or Ferrari manages a similar dominance over Merc next year, I dare say a whole lot of people are going to instantly change their tune about homologation.

  8. I read all these demands for an un-freezing of the PU as an admission of failure by Ferrari.

    They were the one team that should have been matching or at least very close to Mercedes this year.

    1. they probably have an equal or better car, as in previous years, but are only suffering because of this engine freeze.

      1. Whose fault is that, even if it was true which is laughable.

      2. Even as a Ferrari fan I have to disagree. Mercedes have produced an outstanding car this season, the only real area of weakness has been the braking systems and even that has been well managed and hasn’t stopped them getting the WCC with a few races to go.
        Too many people like using the engine advantage to obscure the fact that Mercedes have done a brilliant job and produced a package that is superior to their competitors in virtually every area that matters.

      3. What evidence has been shown this year that the Ferrari is only lacking to the Mercedes in power?

        The car has been all over the place, the areo is all over the place, driveability of the engine is terrible & then there is a lack of power. Not to mention a team back in Maranello that are so far apart it’s laughable.

        An engine freeze is least of Ferrari’s problems. They have some much bigger and long last issues to solve.

  9. So it’s fine to spend millions developing an aerodynamic doo-dad the size of a credit card, but don’t you dare spend money improving your engine. F1 is stupid and irrelevant. If they keep going down this path I won’t be watching it much longer.

    1. @henslayer There are extensive restrictions on aerodynamic development, both in terms of what can go on the car and how it can be developed.

      On the car there’s extensive and very tight restrictions on the dimensions of the front and rear wings, a mandatory neutral section on the front wing, restrictions on the sidepod shape, the flat floor requirement, restrictions on diffusers – and that’s just the obvious stuff.

      And in terms of development teams are limited in terms of what size of windtunnel model they can use and how often they can run it.

      So to say that engine development is restricted but aerodynamic development is free is simply wrong.

      1. you are missing his point. unlike engine development there is no concept of limitation on how much you can develop with-in the specifications. If there is design fault in engine you cannot change it unlike aero, where there is no such limitation.

        1. @f1007

          If there is design fault in engine you cannot change it

          First – if you make a mistake in the design then whose fault is it? Second – as per the article above you can almost certainly change it in the next few years before the spec becomes frozen (as per the V8 era when the engine freeze itself was never considered harmful to the sport nor was it a frequent topic of debate).

          1. design fault on engine side or aero is team’s fault, the point is you can correct it during the season on aero side but not engine side. And changes on the engine side is limited to number of “tokens” unlike aero.
            Well V8 era and hybrid are totally different. transition from V10 to V8 was merely reduction in number of cylinders and nothing more, but hybrid engines are a different animal in terms of technology etc. so no comparison.

        2. This is true, I hope that the expenditure balance can be corrected back to the powertrain and away from the airflow but the current aero situation merely serves to illustrate the problem of unlimited updates in any area.

  10. if they wanted to save money then they should not have entered into the v6 era in the first place

  11. It’s a nice article, Keith, but there are some points I don’t fully follow you:

    First off, Mercedes will be able to block it, but ONLY for the next year. This is because the deadline for the 2015 rules has long passed, and the unanimous agreement is needed to still change those rules. HOWEVER, next year they can start to discuss the rules for 2016, for which only a majority agreement is needed in the Strategic Group. Since the majority already agrees to allow it, big things would need to happen to have that same group decide next year otherwise. In other words, we’ll see inseason development in 2016.

    My next point builts further on that. Mercedes don’t play their cards right, they even play them rather stupid. This year they can veto it, but next year there’s nothing they can do to stop it. Instead of pushing it one year in front of them, they could use their power they currently have (but again not in the future) to put pressure on the conditions for inseason development. They could for instance negotiate that any inseason development will be subtracted from the total allowed development between the season. Say you develop about 8% in 2015 during the season, they you would be only allowed to develop 48%-8%=40% (assuming the teams still are allowed to develop for 48%).

    That way, costs will rise but not as much. And it still gives quite an advantage to the engine manufacturer who gets it right. Most of all, we already have a stringent formula. Over the past years, the FIA tried to push the costs down through regulations, achieving exactly the opposite. The usual “limit what the teams can develop” approach has been proven to be wrong, yet we keep insisting on the same approach over and over again.

    A week ago you claimed F1 can’t deny is all about politics. Well, you get it right there: The blocking of engine unfreezing is nothing more then a politic move.

    1. Mercedes dont need to play any cards. What ever happens, it will apply across the board. So, using an unfreeze as leverage is a waste of time, and would look like Mercedes manipulating events. That would be political too. So the right thing to do is keep the status quo. In that resepct its the most neutral Mercedes can logically be.

      Equally, the call by Ferrari and Renault for an unfreeze is also politics.

      Claiming only one side is at it doesn’t hold any water.

      1. Of course it’s politics, it’s all politics. Ferrari and Renault are also out after their own interests.

        However, Mercedes should know that withholding an unfreezing now, just out of principle or whatever, will boomerang back into their face. In 2015 this WILL get back on the table, especially of they continue their dominance. And at that point the strategy group only needs a majority vote. Notice that half of the teams board are mercedes teams, meaning that the other 3 teams are red bull, ferrari and mclaren, plus the fia and the fom. It’s save to assume the latter 2, the fom and fia, voted in favour. Red Bull and Ferrari are obviously in favour too.

        “Whatever happens, happens” is what Caterham said too. You can’t go into F1 with such a mindset. Mercedes are already manipulating events and it’s being thrown wide into the public. If they instead choose to put pressure on conditions, it would been kept behind closed doors. That sort of pressure is what they’ll loose next year.

        To be clear: I’m not against mercedes loosing that leverage; a derestriction of F1 would a welcome change of wind, so the more open it gets the better!

        1. If the non-merc engine builders think they can equal or better Merc in 2015 they will want a freeze in 2016 to lock in their advantage/equality, if they don’t believe they can equal or better Merc they won’t want to spend more money for nothing.

  12. I think it is actually an act of desperation from Ferrari and Red Bull. Mercedes have spent a lot of money and hired many high profile names to get to where they are this year. Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn, many other peole, lots of hard work since 2010 and, of course, money have brought them their current advantage. We have been talking about engines a lot but actually their aerodynamic package might be the best, too. The competitors obviously feel that it will be very hard to catch Mercedes and that a spending arms race is one of the few opportunities. And if that does not happen, they can at least make Mercedes look evil (“We could build better engines but they are not letting us”).

    I would not mind to see Ferrari, Red Bull and others give Mercedes a run for their money in 2015 but one of F1’s teams is now run by a licenced insolvency practitioner and a full 26-car grid has never seemed to be so out of reach since 1995, the last time we had it. This is definitely not the right moment for any increase in costs.

    1. Michael Schumacher and Ross Brawn had nothing to do with the engine design.

      1. Have a re-think, you should be able to convince yourself that they stole the ideas from their time at Ferrari.

  13. What I have yet to see anyone mention is the power of Ferrari veto. I keep on thinking they will use their Veto to gain influence on this subject. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mercedes coming out in public and saying they will allow changes for a more exciting coming year.

    1. Ferrari’s veto power can only be used to block the unfreeze though, not encourage it

  14. Why not freeze aero for s year and allow engine development or teams choose half races they can alter aero other half you can alter engines or something like this. Basically you can change either just not at the same time. You could weight it so one engine mod means no aero change for 5 races.

    1. Could that be even considered, because if the PU’s are all developed to be more like the Mercedes PU, then they will also want to modify the aero, because they will be able to put in smaller cooling components and reshape the engine cover.
      Doing that will mean changes to the front aero to get the air moving where they want it and changes to the rear aero as there will be more room to work with.

      1. Yeah but tough luck. Mercedes did the best job the others should not be given it on a plate too catch up straight away.

        Sad for me as a Ferrari fan but fairs fair.

  15. I don’t agree with this point of view. Sure Red Bull and Ferrari are not acting for the good of F1, instead they are playing their own interest, but who wouldn’t? And as a matter of fact, playing your own interests, the whole of them would eventually result at the good of the sport.
    Formula1 is a development sport. It makes no sense to freeze the engine development, and hand the domination of the sport to who did better at the start, for the whole season and probably for years to come. This all with the excuse of cost cutting, meanwhile teams spend millions in aerodynamic for small pieces of carbon fiber that are usable for one race only.
    I am afraid we are beating the wrong horse here, as goes a saying in my country, when you can not beat the donkey you beat the saddle. The focus should really be on the shares of this multimillion sport. Who gets them? How are they distributed? If the shares goes more evenly between teams, we wouldn’t be talking about costs cutting. The richer teams will have a better chance at winning, but F1 history has shown that this not always the case.
    I say, just relax the rules and let engineers do their job. If there is one thing to be frozen should be the aero aspect of the car. Tired of looking at pictures of how the flap changed, or the wholes, or the cuts things that make zero interest in a long time development and service.

    1. “Sure Red Bull and Ferrari are not acting for the good of F1, instead they are playing their own interest, but who wouldn’t? And as a matter of fact, playing your own interests, the whole of them would eventually result at the good of the sport.”

      So you’re basically saying the Mercedes should block it then?

      1. And you are saying that Mercedes are blocking it for the good of the sport?

        1. My position is that it was wrong to have the engine part-freeze in the first place, but once it has been agreed then yes it is within the interests of the sport for Merc to block any changes because that is what I think is ‘fair’ at this point in time.

          They invested a hell of a lot with this part-freeze in mind.

  16. Good article. Engines are NOT frozen. This winter Ferrari and Renault can introduce their substantially new engines with split turbos, larger turbos, log exhausts, whatever they’ve been able to develop (aka copy) all this year.

    What they won’t be able to do is introduce another version half-way through next year, if Merc have come up with some new clever features they’d like to copy too.

    Consequently all the manufacturers can now be making a year’s supply of engines for their teams in one batch. Vastly more efficient.

    And they all have all next year to develop the 2016 engines in good order with sensible levels of resourcing.

  17. petebaldwin (@)
    24th October 2014, 13:50

    Mercedes should be clever about this.

    “Two options lads…

    Option A: We unfreeze the engine development for the good of the sport. Ferrari give up their “veto” for the good of the sport. All teams sign up to spending caps for the good of the sport. Resources are more evenly distributed for the good of the sport. Paywalls for watching F1 on TV are removed for the good of the sport. Bernie is sacked for the good of the sport. Double points is removed for the good of the sport. etc etc etc

    Option B: Engine development remains frozen.”

    1. Hear, hear!

    2. Great idea! Option B seems more likely at the moment though …

      Also, I’ve heard somewhere that due to commercial agreements, there should always be 20 cars on the grid. If both Caterham and Marussia withdraw in 2015, the other teams should provide 3 cars. The teams have to be informed 2 months before the race. Is this tue?

    3. Nicely summed up. If in an ideal world we go for Option A right. Lets replace Bernie with F1 Fanatic. I am continually impressed with the quality of articles and the intelligent comments, critique and insights that follow. Surely as a collective we could do a much better job at decision making then the current establishment!

  18. It’s funny to see Keith criticizing Mattiacci for framing the debate in the language which best suits his point of view, while at the same time framing the debate quite the same way:
    – “sound reasons”
    – “so attractive”
    – “paramount importance”
    – “controversial body which represents a small number”
    – and so on.

    Also funny to see how 48% (of the engine by weight) is large portion and enough for solid development, but 55% (of teams in the Strategy Group) is a small number.

    Why aren’t we freezing, er, “freezing in stages” 48% of aerodynamic development next year? That will cut away large costs. Or let any team only change 48% of drivers next season, so that 2% of Sebastian Vettel will remain at Red Bull. Hmm… that’s not going to take us anywhere, isn’t it?

    And there’s a problem: since Honda is a newcomer, it should freeze now 48% of nothing and develop only the rest of an engine, right? I think there’s gonna be some problems for McLaren next year.

    Now seriously.

    Talks about the budget cap were there for 7 years. We all are being told that budget cap is necessary to save small teams. The point is: we don’t need small teams. For solid 5 years they consistently failed to deliver a decent package to compete for points, and that’s never going to happen. In the good old 90’s teams like Simtek, Pacific and Forti survived only about 2 years. Even stillborn HRT was there for 3 years, so we can say that budgets are limited quite enough. if the team cannot afford being in Formula One, let it go away, don’t make others suffer.

    Building a Formula One team should require solid investment. Low entry barrier only attracts cons, and we don’t need them to run a full grid. Red Bull already supports 2 teams, Ferrari is going to have a B-team with Haas in 2016 (who, as we see, is nowhere as newby and ignorant as Branson or Fernandes were), Williams, McLaren and Marcedes are all already prepared to run 3 cars. That’s 17 competitive cars on the grid, even if Lotus, Sauber and Force India finally sink. And that’s attractive championship where not only Hamilton and Rosberg race.

    Sad that’s not happening now.

    1. Every time people talk about third cars or even B-teams I fear that we may be getting closer to a one-spec series, having more teams allows younger engineers to prove themselves and gain experience before they move up to the big teams, if we have 3 cars per team there will be more mechanics but at the same time less engineers, designers, marketing people, etc because there will only be 8 factories.

      Look at the mess Caterham employees are going through, imagine that happening to Force India, Lotus and Sauber.

      1. Look at WRC or WTCC. They are not a spec-series, though they have had third cars for ages.

        Young engineers may gain experience in automotive industry. In fact, we’d better have more engineers coming from the industry than from small teams, because it will shrink the growing distance between the industry and the sport. Not to say it’s hard to gain enough experience in a team like HRT, with completely outdated Dallara chassis at hand and little to no budget for testing and manufacturing updates. It even looks like GP2 or WSR can deliver engineers with pretty much the same experience as HRT or Marussia.

        As per marketing people, I don’t really think we in Formula One should really take care of their future employment :-)

    2. @ximaera

      It’s funny to see Keith criticising Mattiacci for framing the debate in the language which best suits his point of view

      I pointed out that’s what was being done but I think you’ll find I didn’t criticise them for it – a small but important distinction.

  19. How much they can change the engines during off-season is not really relevant with the problem though (in Ferrari’s and Renault’s eyes), it’s that they are homologated so early in the year and no real changes are allowed during the season. They’ll basically have to bring untested engines to the pre-season tests and if something goes wrong, as it usually does, they’re not gonna have enough time to make any major changes before the annual homologation.

    What we have here is a management championship, not an engineering championship, as the system basically rewards the one who has the best organizational structure.

    1. @tmekt they can make changes for reliability reasons though. Or economy istr.

      And it cuts both ways, doesn’t it? If Renault or Ferrari bring an amazing innovation the others can’t copy it in time. The homologation date is only a problem if you expect the others to be smarter than you. It’s a competition.

  20. I think Mattiacci and Horner know the “unfreeze” won’t do anything in particular to help them catch Mercedes next year. Their cars have fundamental limitations in cooling, downforce, ride, and traction. They are basically trying to cabin, and limit the PR crisis of their poor performance. They are misdirecting the blame outward. They are trying to scandalize MB’s success, to force MB to have to talk about whether their advantage is “unfair” rather than celebrate their achievement. It’s pure sour grapes.

    1. Well said. And I think one of the most key points here being, as expressed by Keith, Mercs advantage is about so much more than strictly the engine, and so anyone trying to claim this freeze is detrimental and has locked Merc’s advantage in place is not getting it. Or knows and is playing smoke and mirrors.

  21. I like how many people have changed their minds about the engine freeze (sorry, staggered freeze) after reading this article, it goes to show that when presented with the facts and possible consequences most of us prefer the sensible route, rather than the romantic view that F1 should be a playground for engineers with the huge costs that would bring.

  22. Good article, Keith. I think Horner and Matiacci are just trying to see how they could bend the rules to their favor. If either Renault or Ferrari were dominant, I believe Mercedes would be doing the same. I think they both know that the engines can be changed considerably for 2015 under the present rules; they’re just politicking.

    If F1 wanted to try to further limit the costs in addition to keeping the ‘engine freeze’, they could limit the number of front and rear wing design changes allowed per year and they could limit the number of staff teams send to each race. That would cut down on the amount of shipping, travel and hotels necessary.

    All that said, I think there should be more Monday testing days combined with the race weekends. The cars, drivers and mechanics are already on site, and I don’t think every aspect of car design can be ironed out with CFD and simulators.

  23. I do not agree, f1 with declining spectators and TV viewership cannot afford another era of one team dominating the sport. Anything that can be done to make it more interesting and spectacular should be done. With rumors that at least 3 teams might quit, unfreeze should be done if it can make at least one them competitive enough to stop them from leaving.

    Merc flip-flopping about this so many times is disgrace and to paint this as good for future of f1 is ridiculous.

    1. Bet you will change your mind if Alonso is driving a Merc next year, or if he is driving a McLaren and the Honda PU is vastly superior.

      1. not really, competition is good for fans and teams. I think merc is scared, if you add half the power deficit to that redbull, it would be up there with merc. We should be able to learn from history, f1’s popularity rose during 2005 – 2010 coz of competition, and declined during schumi era and vettel’s dominating years of 2011 and 2013.

        Though i am alonso’s fan i loved his title years and years he was in contention coz of competition.

        1. I’m still not sure what the reason is for the decline in viewership, and I would think it has to do with many factors, some that may be outside F1’s control.

          Personally I am thrilled with this year’s Merc dominated races given that there is a genuine rivalry on the team. I think one team dominating is detrimental far moreso when they designate a number one and disallow competition between the drivers. That robs everybody.

          I doubt Mercedes is scared of anything. They have a lock on both Championships this year, and many teams would love to be in their spot, in fact dream of it their whole lives, and I’m sure would swap their standing for Merc’s any day even if it meant domination for only one year. And there’s a very good chance Merc will be very strong next year too, so they won’t be assuming they’ll dominate but they’ve got to have a good feeling that they’ll be a top 3 almost without doubt.

          So of course competition is good…and we’re having it…between LH and NR. Next year Honda is coming into the mix and the other teams have a good chance of getting much closer to Merc and giving them a hard time. Putting real pressure on them can go a long way to changing the dynamic. And there is nothing to say Merc won’t development themselves on pace but remain with some nagging reliability issues that another team that might, I say might, still be down a bit on power could capitalize on with better reliability. Also, with Merc splitting their points between both drivers next year again, a few teams much closer to them could really put a different face to the 2015 season.

  24. Nice article and I almost agreed with it!

    However the way I see it Ferrari and RedBull are pushing for this change to cover their bases if for some reason Mercedes starts off 2015 like they did this year. And I have to agree with it a bit. Just because they started on the back foot doesn’t mean they should not be given a chance to catch up.

    If a team started with a weak aero they still have all year to catch up, however with in-season engine freeze they are stuck!

    In essence there is an engine freeze but it is during the season and not between.

    How they manage to achieve this objective while keeping costs down, say through 2 engine upgrades during a year etc.. Is another matter. But I have side with Ferrari and Red bull here.

  25. I personally don’t care how much money they spend. I would much rather see competitive teams with four cars than 11 teams with two cars and over half of them being lapped every race.
    If F1 insists on have ten or eleven teams, I think they should be faceless corporations like Red Bull, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Microsoft, Google, YouTube, and IBM…. to name a few. I really don’t see the point of having teams like Caterham, or Marussia, or Sauber, or Williams. If you are not willing to spend the money then than stop whining and drop out.

    1. +1. Just think how the battle for this champ would have looked if Alonso and Vettel would have been in another 2 Mercedes cars!

    2. Then you don’t understand F1. You can watch what you describe in other racing series if you like.

      Think about what still makes F1 so popular (despite its problems it is), it’s the torro Rosso wins as much as the Mercedes dominance. You always need the underdog to go on a cup run in football, and you’ll always need the marussia scoring 2 points at Monaco.

      Do you understand now?

      1. You can still have the underdog in the form of a driver instead of a team.

  26. Thank you for writing this article and clarifying this, Keith. When I heard “engine freeze,” I thought it meant that engines couldn’t be developed during the season, meaning Mercedes could start the seasons with the best engine and finish with the best engine (although that has happened).

    Personally, I would like to see development restrictions in aero so that money can go towards engine development instead. So much money is being spent on aero for the gain of hundredths of seconds, when I think it would be better to develop engines instead.

  27. Fantastic inside infos. I couldn’t agree with @keithcollantine and @drmouse for the whole subject.

    1. Did you mean “couldn’t agree MORE” ?

  28. In a perfect F1 world every team would have the same amount of money to spend for a season of racing. A season would be development, testing, salaries for one and all, and whatever else I failed to mention…. Bernie could see that every team has the same amount of money… Sponsor money would still be very welcomed and sponsors would still love to support a winning team. A serious reallocation of funds would be necessary and the manufacturers trophy would actually mean something if all teams had equal resources to compete. If the teams started out on equal footing then the superior talents would be winners and not those who can buy the superior talents. But then I have always been a dreamer………… As for blocking the freeze, what would Ferrari do if they were in Mercedes shoes???? HA we know that answer!! Thanks, RnR

    1. Alex McFarlane
      26th October 2014, 19:00

      I was thinking the exact same thing literally just before I read your comment.

      A ‘cost series’ could be great, and encourage innovative ideas. Teams could do anything they liked within the budget, with disqualification or suspension for anyone exceeding it.

      Not sure where the money would come from or whether there are any governing bodies strong enough to police it fairly.

      1. Alex McFarlane
        26th October 2014, 19:06

        And there’s always the likelihood that such a series would be at risk of becoming a spec series as the less successful teams might just copy the things that worked for the more successful teams.

  29. ColdFly F1 (@)
    25th October 2014, 0:32

    In reality the engine freeze is even much less than 8% as mentioned in the article.

    The biggest impact on power for an engine is not the hardware (the basics – like size- are prescribed), but is software. The engine mapping is what really makes the difference; it brings the various parts of power generation and reuse together, and it defines when and how to bring that power to the wheels to maximise speed and reduce lap times.
    And the best part: engine mapping is not frozen and can be changed every single race.

  30. With Honda coming in 2015 and strong rumors regarding Audi working on a 1.6L V6 Turbo for 2016, even Mercedes should think carefully before opposing the freeze vehemently. Ferrari agreed to a lot of these changes in the past thinking they would come out on top and can keep it that way. If Honda or Audi manages to get better than Mercedes by 2016, then Mercedes is just looking at one more championship before they get back to mid field with no room to improve.

    If Audi or Honda comes along with a bang, existing grid is at a disadvantage since they are already half-frozen and cannot do more changes at that point. That includes Mercedes too; they shouldn’t get blinded by their domination to think that someone else cannot get better than them in first attempt.

  31. Congratulation on the article Keith, this is one of the few places where I could find the rules of the engine “freeze” explained so clearly. I also agree that Ferrari and RB claims are PR statements oriented to change the rules to their advantage. They will also want to keep their advantage as much as possible if they had the edge over their rivals, so Mercedes has every right to defend the rules as they are.

    However, there is one point that most of the people are missing here, and that is the entrance of a new manufacturer (Honda), with an engine build from scratch (nothing frozen for that engine as far I know), giving them the advantage that this might represent (specially compared with Ferrari and Renault): having Mercedes engine as a benchmark for performance (McLaren experience will definitely be really helpful) and the oportunity of “copying” or adapting the solutions of Mercedes engine structure to their own (like the separate position of the turbine and compressor of the turbocharger to improve the thermal management of the engine).

    Therefore, since a new manufacturer is entering the sport (and that is good news), I think the engine “freeze”, as small as it might be, is not fair, as the new manufacturer will have a potential advantage over its rivals just because it did not compite last year.

    1. Others have argued this point…that Honda is at an advantage…but I still am not convinced. The engine freeze schedule is known to all that need to know. And it involves a very small percentage of the engine components. The freeze will involve more and more of a percentage as the next four years go along.

      We don’t know if Honda is copying Merc’s way, or have a special innovation(s) of their own. But in a way their engine itself is frozen..as in…they have to comply with the F1 regs on many specs of the engine itself and have to commit at some point (a point which has likely passed already) to their engine design in order to marry it to the rest of the components for turbo and energy recovery, and include software and chassis concerns to boot, in order to get working with Mac and be ready for 2015.

      Meanwhile other teams have had a season of real-world experience not only with their PUs but the hugely important aspects now of marriage of PU to chassis, and how the energy recovery systems affect braking. There’s vastly important cooling issues, as well as software that has to sync everything.

      So I think that any advantage Honda may have by not competing this year, of which I’m not even clear yet what that advantage would be in relation to engine freezing, should be far outweighed by the fact that they are starting anew with Mac and are behind by one season in so many ways. Will they have learned from observation? Sure. And from Mac being a current running team? Sure. But so will all the other teams and engine makers have learned from this season too. But for the most part they’ll be building on one season of a brand new era already under their belt whereas Mac/Honda will just be getting started.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        25th October 2014, 14:52

        I agree – there is no guarantee that Honda will come in with the best engine. If they are successful, it will be due to their technical excellence and fortune more so than the advantage gained due to the “frozen rule”. As it’s been pointed out, engine manufacturers can make significant changes at the end of this season and they’ve had a full season of data to plan these changes.

  32. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    25th October 2014, 14:37

    It’s articles like this one that set F1Fanatic apart from almost every other site out there. Allowing for upgrades during the season would bring up costs, that there’s no doubt about that. In fact, it’s questionable whether the backmarkers will automatically benefit from the upgrades as they may not be able to afford to integrate the upgrades, much less integrate them timely and successfully.

    Caterham is in dire trouble. Marussia is struggling and will miss Austin. Sauber’s suffering and Lotus must not be doing that great as evidenced by the fact that they couldn’t pay Kimi last year and they will be getting much less money this year for their abysmal performance. Torro Rosso would have been out of F1 except for the fact that it’s Red Bull’s 2nd team. Force India isn’t exactly swimming in money. That leaves 10 cars (5 constructors) that are able to “comfortably” compete in F1 – namely Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Williams.

    Things have to change. Anyone looking into F1 right now must realize how tough it is to survive in this sport, much less thrive.

    1. Fair enough but don’t forget Torro Rosso might not be there to ‘comfortably’ compete and might be fine with the function they serve, ie. they look solid, as does Force India look solid even if less comfortable by your measurement. And then there’s Haas coming in for 2016.

      You are undeniably right about how tough it is to survive in the sport. It’s always been that way. New teams coming in and succeeding immediately would make F1 look too easy. Nor should they just be fed money to ensure their survival. Tweak things? Sure. There’s lots of room for that. But there’s a reason new entrants are vetted and have to show how and why they are going to be a viable entity in F1 based on their plan and their resources. They shouldn’t just sell BE on their viability and then expect handouts to keep it going. But of course I don’t mean they should get nothing, and I’m sure there is money there to give them more…but how much more?

      It’s tough yes but nobody put a gun to these teams’ heads to enter F1. But your point is a valid and good one.

  33. In my opinion they should block the engine unfreeze, not only will costs spiral out of control if it happens but it will give Renault and Ferrari a second chance they doesn’t deserve. I like to think of the competition between engine suppliers as a race, only problem is that race is over and Mercedes won, they lost. Its like finishing second in a race and asking for ten more laps so you can win. They had as much chance as Mercedes to make the engine and they just didn’t do a good enough job, and will have to take the pain.

  34. Very good article. At last someone presented the reality of current engine “freeze” as it is, not as the lagging manufacturers want it to be. I hope Mercedes with all their customer teams will block this new arms race. If Ferrari can’t solve a problem any other way than throwing away a butt-load of money then let them suffer.

  35. It isn’t Mercedes fault that they built a better power unit. Renault and Ferrari had the same amount of time as Mercedes did.

  36. Chapman's Ghost
    25th October 2014, 16:21

    Mercedes deserve to slaughter the field this season. They showed up with a dramatically better car than everyone else, and props to them for that. But if the FIA don’t take some action to narrow the gap to the other teams, it will kill the sport, as dead as Alma Cogan.

    Because the new ‘token’ rules structure is too restrictive to allow the other teams to make changes of a magnitude sufficient to bridge the gap to Mercedes on their own.

    Because testing is to be being further restricted, progressively so, over the coming seasons.

    Because Mercedes hardly are standing pat. They have found another 40 bhp, along with better brake specific fuel consumption for their 2015 ICE, just with changes to the injectors. Which costs them a whopping 3 of their 32 2015 tokens. And are said to have another 60 bhp coming from the other 29 tokens.

    Because the new “cost-saving” hybrid engine rules already have pushed two teams into receivership.

    The basic problem is that the new power plant regulations were too complex to be implemented so suddenly, and with such limited testing (which gets even more tightly limited over the coming seasons). And Mercedes were able to find a far better balance of components than either of the other two engine builders (albeit at a cost of nearly £150m). So the question becomes one of institutionalising that advantage through the 2020 season, to the end of the current engine freeze, or do you say ‘well done Mercedes,’ and give the other teams a credible chance to catch up. Because if you don’t, the next six WDCs all will be carbon copies of this one; Lewis versus Nico, and then there’s everybody else.

    Which might be brilliant if you’re a Silver Arrows fan, but it would spell F1’s death knell.

    The only flies in the ointment might come from Honda — or Cosworth — or Pure — who wisely have sat out this bloodbath and can learn from Mercedes’ success (and Ferrari’s and Renault’s foul-ups).

    1. “Because the new “cost-saving” hybrid engine rules already have pushed two teams into receivership.”

      The hybrid engines were not intended to reduce costs and everyone knew years in advance that their introduction would lead to increased development costs.

      “The basic problem is that the new power plant regulations were too complex to be implemented so suddenly, and with such limited testing”

      There was nothing sudden about it, the teams, FIA etc spent years debating the changes to the regulations and had more than a year to design and test them using a testing regime agreed by everyone involved.

  37. Keith is hamilton die hard, so it’s predictable he’d be against engine defrost. Little objectivity in this article.

    1. @f1fan123 Being accused of a lack of objectivity by someone who has ignored everything in the article and reduced it to being about a driver I haven’t so much as mentioned, is rather comical.

  38. Thats a great informative read Keith. I didn`t know so much of the engine could still be developed!

  39. Any trailing team is bound to put effort into blaming the rules. Perhaps that effort would be better spent by channeling into improving within the rules. The way I see it and correct me if I’m wrong, but the rules are designed in some part to cut costs and budgets to allow less profitable teams to be more competitive. That has to be a good thing. But the rules leave some scope to address in various ways to enable teams to bring out the best in designers and aerodynamicists, what we don’t want is an A1 format in F1, otherwise what’s the point?

  40. It spoils the season if one team has an advantage and the other teams can not even try to modify their cars to catch up. Having an in-season engine freeze means that you have to get your engine as near perfect as possible before the season start and you do not know the standard of the other engines so you have to possibly developp your engine to a standard way higher/more expensive than is possibly required.

  41. You can’t have it both ways! You can’t say “well the engine is not really frozen” and at the same time say “if we unfroze the engine it would cost a fortune”.

    There are obviously changes that Renault and Ferarri would like to make to their engines, but the rules disallow. It is great that Merc though of some good ideas and got a whole season to exploit them. But like all other great ideas made in F1, they should be allows to be copied and improved on by the other teams.

    1. “You can’t have it both ways! You can’t say “well the engine is not really frozen” and at the same time say “if we unfroze the engine it would cost a fortune”.”

      Engines are only frozen in-season, during the winter off-season the teams can change most of the PU so you can have it both ways so long as you clarify, as Keith has done, that the engines aren’t frozen during the off-season and that allowing them to remain unfrozen during the season would increase costs.

  42. Great article Keith. Makes a change to see someone cutting through the PR crap.

  43. Mercedes are winning not just because the engine is better, but because for the first time in ages Red Bull don’t have a car which is streets ahead. Red Bull won at Spa and in Canada – power circuits where if the Mercedes engine advantage was so great they would have been behind Williams , McLaren and Force India. At other tracks they’ve been shown up by Torro Rosso . It’s far easier for them to blame all their problems on Renault.
    If you were Renault or Ferrari and being told you’re 50HP (or whatever) down on the Mercedes motor (never mind that the Merc has other advantages) the first thing to spin is “we could close the gap if we were allowed to do X” knowing full well you’d never be allowed to.
    Renault and Ferrari have a chance to introduce things for 2015 which (they’d hope) will improve their engines by more then Mercedes improves. But they’re they can’t get all their improvements done for the start of the season so want to introduce some in the middle. Mercedes might raise an eyebrow and say “Guys you knew what you had to do, and when the 2015 season started. We got our work done, but you want our blessing for a rule change to give you an extension ? We could all bring ‘B’ Spec engines for the second half of the year, but if you two can’t develop as quickly as us for the start of 2015 you better ask yourselves if you want to race against a Mercedes ‘B’ spec”
    From a fans point of view the fact that Ferrari and Renault are already working on the 2015 excuses isn’t great – it suggests that whatever improvements those two make, Mercedes might make more and be further ahead and the gap might only be closed by not allowing Mercedes to make a mid season change while Renault and Ferrari can change what ever they would have been allowed to change over for the start of the season but didn’t manage to. Would you agree to that if you were Mercedes ?

  44. Is anyone else getting sick and tired of Ferrari and their constant moaning? Yes Ferrari are a well known name, yes they are a popular team but it seems that every time the game doesn’t suit them they throw a little tantrum to try and get their own way. After this Bernie and the FIA bow to their every whim.

    Di Montezemolo constantly did this and now Mattiachi is taking up where he left off. Ferrari’s attitude, that they are the only star of F1 and F1 would be lost without them, is an archaic one and I am sure that F1 would in fact be a much better place without them. At the very least it would be a much more level playing field financially and politically for all the teams involved. Do please really what F1 to see Ferrari? Seriously in today’s age I very much doubt it.

    Red Bull should not be left out of these comments either. Their dominance over the last 4 seasons has put them in a position that they feel they should be a focal point of the sport and have more of a say what goes on.

    Neither team should have this weight behind them, nor should any other team that dominates the sport for a while. The FIA need to make rules and stick to them. These engine rules are starting to entice the large engine manufacturers BACK to F1. Honda is a prime example of this and there are rumours that Audi are sniffing around. If we changed the rules every season to suit school playground bullies then it will make a complete mockery of the sport.

    In my opinion Continuity is key and will be what will make the sport great again, not bowing to the Prancing Horse or Bull.

  45. Forgive my ignorance on this subject but are the teams actually spending less? Or is this just an exercise in trying to make things more “fair”. I don’t know of any place you can look up what they actually spend. My fear is they end up turning themselves in to another spec series – BORING. Really all the tight regs seem to focused on is slowing the cars down. That’s not good either so what to do. Wouldn’t it be nice if the regs were loose enough so a small team could come in and do something unusual and just blows the doors err sidepods off the established teams. Oh wait uh maybe that’s the game, the big teams don’t want the threat so it’s really not about making it fair. Hmm

  46. everyone so far is missing the point. F1 engine development has moved to a point where it is all about R&D capability. Even if the rules were opened now Mercedes would in my opinion maintain the advantage. Just who out there can match their capability. Audi/VW/Porsche and BMW for sure. Honda too but it depends on what level they are allowed to come in at. The bottom line is that Merc got the jump and the sport is so screwed up that the very basis of the MOTOR in motorsport has been chucked out of the window. Just how can one have a situation where factors such as this mitigate against competition…sorry stupid.

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