Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren-Honda MP4-29H/1X1, Yas Marina, 2014

Honda excluded from in-season engine upgrades

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Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren-Honda MP4-29H/1X1, Yas Marina, 2014In the round-up: Formula One engine manufacturers will be allowed to upgrade their units during 2015 – apart from newcomers Honda.

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FIA allows 2015 F1 engine upgrades (Autosport)

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Not having a number one on the grid doesn’t bother me.

It happens in Moto GP (although Esteve Rabat will use it in Moto2 this year) and in IndyCar (not for 2015, but for 2014 it did) and I have no issue with it. I’m sure that it happens in other motorsports too.

One thing which does bother me is drivers using the number one plate whilst not being the reigning champion. I’m looking at Formula Renault and GP2/3 as the main culprits here. How I see it is that the number one should only be used if and only if the reigning champion chooses to do so. If the reigning champion is not present, then nobody should have the right to use the number.

One way which Lewis Hamilton could have incorporated both numbers would have been to do it in a similar style to Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2013.
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  • 76 comments on “Honda excluded from in-season engine upgrades”

    1. And they say Ferrari doesn’t make the rules!

      1. Guess this is Ferrari’s way of getting back at Fernando, and obviously, eliminating any potential competition by making the rules

      2. Jean Todt has been sacked by Sergio Marchionne himself after winning the 2007 championship, he said that if he was in charge at Ferrari at the time he would have also vetoed his FIA presidency.

      3. What does that have to do with Ferrari? Should Honda be allowed to race with a non-homologated engine? Seriously? Of course, not being allowed to make gradual changes may turn out to be a disadvantage. But the interpretation of the rules that allows Mercedes, Renault an Ferrari to use their 32 tokens one by one during the course of the season is already a stretch. It would’ve been impossible to justify the same treatment for Honda (who unlike the other manufacturers don’t have a homologated engine) without an outright breach of the regulations.

        I think the compromise is a good one. Not a flawless one, but I can live with it.

    2. Shouldn’t be a problem, the other manufacturers are still limited by the amount of tokens they can change plus the limit of 4 powerunits per car. This isn’t a way of thanking Honda for coming back to F1 though.

      1. I can’t see how they can force Honda to do this as there are no rules laid down in order to enforce it. Honda can just refuse to do what the fia want and there is nothing the fia could legally do.

        1. because Honda don’t have 2014 engine. there’s no base for upgrade.

        2. Because Honda don’t have a homologated engine already they would have to homologate before the first race weekend (starts 13th March) so we’re only talking 2 weeks beforehand that the engine is homologated. It’s not unreasonable for the FIA to require to have the engine in advance of the first race.

          How will it work for other teams though. In order to run a homologated engine they must run 2014 spec PU. Does this apply to all teams using the same PU, once e.g. Merc decide to homologate a 2015 PU are all Merc teams required to use it from the next race? Are Ferrari really going to start 2015 running their 2014 engine for several races just to give them more time to work on the limited developments available?

          1. I think that is the way it goes, yes @jerseyF1 (although there was mention of Caterham being allowed to run the old spec renault all year to spare the trouble of making a new car for 2015 in case they actually make it to the grid this season).

            It also means that teams are somewhat limited in the changes they can make if they want to run the new car with both the old AND the new engine, for Mercedes this shouldn’t be too big an issue, and Renault already ruled out changing the layout (but they are supposed to work in things like exhausts, maybe in a “in between” step?) but didn’t Ferrari mention changing the layout to something closer to the solution Merc chose? That certainly would have quite an impact on the complete car you would think.

        3. … other than ban McLaren from competing with a non-homologated engine, yeah, not much the FIA can do. ;)

    3. I’m not sure the engine announcement makes much difference really, unless it’s true that they can’t quite get a split-turbo driveshaft developed by 28 February. Otherwise they’re trading off running an old-spec engine for part of the season with a better-spec engine later on. Merc will just be cleaning up in the meantime, possibly with McLaren too.

      Honda have had advantages and disadvantages with an unrestricted 2015 engine, untried but informed – to say the least – by McLaren’s intimate knowledge of the Merc unit and its installation, so I think it’s fair they homologate on schedule.

      But Merc hung on to the 32 token limit so it’s a very small victory for Ferrari and Red Bull, who I’m guessing wouldn’t trade any prize fund for it.

      Surely they will all be closer, anyway.

      1. Yes, I don’t like rules being changed to allow copying the the best design but I would have prefered the rule to be written this way in the 1st. place, a good compromise between an allout development battle ( the unaffordable ideal) and a way for manufacturers to correct failings that were unforseeable* due to limited testing between seasons.
        *obviously advantages were forseen by 1 but the rule may have blinded the others.

    4. Ah, good old FIA incompetence leaving loopholes everywhere. Oh well, fair play to Ferrari and Renault I guess.

      1. Obviously belts are too tight at the FIA to hire lawyers, Jean Todt is wasting away to a mere shadow of himself.

      2. and if it isn’t incompetence? and maybe it’s a intentional “mistake” for the fia in case mercedes were too far away from the rest (it’s been rumored long before 2014 that mercedes got the best PU)

        1. yes, many of the rumours about the Mercedes PU before 2014 turned out to be almost spot on, including the 100bhp-advantage BS. But it would have been stupid to believe them, these PUs were one of the biggest secrets of any manufacturer at the time

          1. It’s only Horner who has claimed that the power deficit is in that order of magnitude – given that he also exaggerated the power deficit of the Renault V8 engine by a factor of three when demanding that Renault should be given a special dispensation to develop their engines (claiming a 30bhp deficit when independent experts demonstrated the difference in peak power was actually just 10bhp), I expect that Horner is doing the same again.

            I would take the assessment of Taffin, who is the head of Renault’s engine development division, over Horner – Taffin estimates that, at most, Mercedes’s advantage in terms of peak power is 40bhp. http://www.motorsport-magazin.com/formel1/news-205303-technik-taffin-wir-kennen-unsere-probleme/

      3. … and Mercedes, who could play the same game, and upgrade their engine during the year. Unless Renault and Ferrari are intent on matching the budget / personnel that Mercedes is throwing at their power-unit, I’m not sure they should play this game. It’s likely to go hideously wrong.

    5. I don’t get why people seem to think any sort of engine un-freeze would suddenly see everyone catch Mercedes because its not as if Mercedes would sit still, They would develop there power unit just as much as the rest & potentially could end up with an even bigger advantage.

      1. Possible but unlikely, the potential is limited and finite.

      2. Mercedes don’t want a bigger advantage, they want the same advantage for a number of years. Because now even if things go wrong they still have a chance of winning. They did all the hard work last year and you can’t keep telling them that’s not enough, and only when someone else catches up can everyone relax.
        By Horner’s words Mercedes have done an ‘incredible’ job and deserve to reap those rewards for a bit.

      3. Will this change dissolve the advantage of Mercedes? Almost definitely not. What it does though is give the other manufacturers a chance at least, rather than just being doomed from the start. It gives Ferrari and Renault hope and optimism, if nothing else

      4. I saw a video on the James Allen on F1 website, where they analysed why the Mercedes W05 car was the most successful F1 car in F1 history, and a lot of the reasons are related to aerodynamics, not the engine. There isn’t any homoglation on the shape of a car, and they did mention the frequent small changes that Mercedes made through the year, which enabled them to maintain their superiority.
        For McLaren and Honda, as others have said, there is a limit (I think they said 4) engines in a year, so even if you improved an engine, that doesn’t mean you’d get much opportunity to use the improvements.

          1. Thanks for that link!
            Indeed, my impression is that the Mercedes PU, while being a valuable asset, was only a comparatively minor ingredient of the Merc car’s superiority.
            Of course, Red Bull spent most of the year complaining about Renault (again), basically saying that their chassis was the cream of the crop and their relative lack in competitivity only due to an abysmally weak Renault PU and a titanic advantage of the Mercedes PU, and so on…
            But all this talk could hardly explain how the Mercs’ advantage even seemed to grow in the rain. So it was pretty obvious that Mercedes had not only designed the best PU, but also built the finest car of the season.

    6. So what I’m getting here (unless I’m wrong) is that Ferrari and Renault can’t get their Mercedes-esque engine out before the start of the season. If the loophole didn’t exist, they would get stuck with their original designs until 2016. This way, they’ll sacrifice the start of 2015 in order to get the new designs running as soon as possible.

      To be honest, this only makes sense if they are very desperate. Every race they run with a 2014 spec engine is a race Mercedes will win. On the other hand, trying to improve a design that’s fundamentally worse would be useless, so future-wise, it could be the best choice.

      I hope Williams brings a good car to the first few races.

      1. I think you are wrong, the basic engine will still be the 2014 design modified, the bolt-on bits however may be changed and if MB is still ahead then more bits (within the total) may be changed.

    7. Now Alonso will try to find a loophole in his McLaren-HONDA contract…

      1. I know from where you picked that avatar !!!

        1. @tifoso1989 now it’s time to be on the same side!!!

      2. Indeed he would, but he has no where to go…

    8. Just think of all the money Honda will be saving.

      1. Hehe.. Good one mrvco :)

    9. Forget 2014 engines, this has nothing to do with them, renault and ferrari had the whole season to see what mercedes did. The in season engine upgrades will be there to catch up if they mess up again during the winter.
      This way they can set goals for australia and if they discover anyone else made something worth to add at the first race the rules will allow the upgrades to get in the car before the season ends. I’m sure Honda can deliver a decent power unit so it should not be too much of a problem for them

    10. So…… Rather than being an organized unfreeze, it is, unsurprisingly, another example of F1 attacking itself.

      1. You seem surprised lol

    11. I can understand they exclude Honda from the engine upgrades since they basically can work their engine without limitation until the deadline vs the 32 tokens that other manufacturers can use and they aren’t entitled of upgrade tokens since it’s their first year. I just hope that FIA would be consistent in the implementation if they were to refer for the last year homologation as in in next year Honda should get 32 tokens vs whatever lesser tokens the other teams will have and not force Honda to have the same number of tokens as other manufactures. Also if for next year FIA somehow manages to force the manufactures to only use the tokens before the 1st race of the season, I hope Honda is excluded from that because again, because of last year.

      1. Btw, do Honda also limited by the 4 engines rule? or they can use 5?
        Is there a rule about how they would applied the PU rules for new manufactures or it is explicitly said that new PU manufacturers must follow the currently running rules. If Honda must follow the current rules (as in using 4 engines), then you could argue that they also entitled to the 32 tokens unless it is explicitly written that new engine manufacturers can’t use the tokens because they need to follow last year rules (thus the rules being applied to Honda basically last year rules for the older manufacturers).

        1. Honda still has to abide by the four engines per season rule, which applies equally to all manufacturers.

          As to the development tokens, Honda’s problem is the fact that they have to homologate their engines on the 28th Feb because it is the first time that engine has been entered into F1, and by definition the homologation rules lock down the design of the engines. Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault can use their 2014 engines because those already comply with the regulations and the 2014 homologation can be carried over, but Honda cannot because they have not previously lodged an engine design with the FIA.

      2. Why should Honda get as much tokens next year as other teams this year? The rules are the same for all and Honda chose to enter in 2015 instead of 2014.

        They can’t develop further into the season for the sole reason that you can only race homologated engines and you can only homologate one engine per year. Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari have homologated units (the 2014 ones), unlike Honda.

        So Honda will just get as much tokens as the rest next year. That’s the consequence of entering a year late.

    12. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      3rd January 2015, 1:31

      Loving the Kamui tweet. I maintain if the DRS/Pirelli format hadn’t neutered his aggressive style, he would have stood out more.

      1. no doubt that DRS made his crazy overtaking skill useless.

      2. I would have thought the fact that an F1 driver visited this site would have to a big thumbs up for Keith. Makes me wonder if any drivers visit and comment on this site. Is Kingshark Alonso as he seems to be quite the fanatic?

        1. This! Also, I agree. For Kobayashi, Hamilton etc. overtaking was a big part of their armoury. You could now include Ricciardo in that line up..

          1. Strange to think that an actual F1 driver could be reading your comments… :D Go Kamui!

    13. @keithcollantine do you know if an engine design must be homologated before it can be run in a race? If so it means that all the upgrades must come at the same time even if it’s 3 races in as once they homologate they are locked in.

      1. Now that’s an interesting point, I would like to know as well.

      2. @thebullwhipper, the loophole means that Renault and Ferrari can introduce their 2015 whenever they want, but they can run only two specification engines next year: their 2014 unit and their 2015 unit. They cannot bolt each of their allowed tokens on one by one (there is only one homologation).

        Personally, the only advantage the loophole offers, imo, is that it allows manufacturers to test their 2015 power units in winter testing, but only race them later if they discover there is something seriously wrong with them (or they suddenly discover how they could be significantly improved).

        Of course, this route is also open to Mercedes, and actually they stand to benefit more from the loophole: if they decide to introduce their 2015 power unit a little later, they still have a very good 2014 power unit to fall back on, whereas Ferrari and Renault have to run their underpowered ones.

        I don’t think Mercedes will make use of the loophole, though, as they have three customer teams, and coordinating the introduction of the new power unit in-season might cause a headache in production and logistics.

    14. What a mess. Pinnacle of motorsport…
      God knows it’s not pinnacle thanks to FOM’s or FIA’s contribution. If the teams would walk away, F1 wouldn’t have anything on local carting scene, let alone other major racing series.

      1. Exactly. You can’t help but think F1 is huge despite the FIA’s contribution.

    15. In motogp Casey Stoner had his number 1 filled with 27, but I’ve seen the reverse, not on the actual vehicle though, as Marc Marquez had a similar thing going on his alstare.

    16. Good to see that Kamui must look at the site. Shows how great it is, if actual F1 drivers are on it.

      1. ex f1 driver ;)

    17. This all seems unnecessarily complicated and complex!

    18. Isn’t it usually the case that if your car, with engine, is behind at the beginning of the season, then you have to work at least twice as hard to catch up.

      So, that being the case, can anyone tell me why the loophole of delaying engine upgrades, can be regarded as a good thing for Renault and Ferrari engined cars?

    19. As long as whatever they do this year is carried over, and given to Honda or any other future manufacture next year. I don’t care.
      Just make it fair and *equal for EVERYBODY

      *equal meaning equal rights to develop the power unit. Not equal in terms of performance.

      1. given to Honda or any other future manufacture next year

        – Actually, the FIA will tell “Last year teams wasted a lot of money. We must restrict them, for sure, so the rules will be equal for everyone”.
        For me, it’s a killing of the F1.

    20. Confused FIA are confusing everyone.

    21. I don’t understand all the hype around Kobayashi. Sure he’s fun to watch one in nineteen races but in all others he’s nowhere. Outclassed by Perez, who in his turn got a beating by Hülkenberg. They are fun to watch on occasion but hardly seem like champion material of which there is some in GP2/3 at the molment.

      1. ferrari thinks more of him then you do.

    22. The ambigious titles about the in-season updating are really bugging me out (f1fanatic and f1technical luckily have appropiate ones, unlike autosport).

      It’s not an unfreeze, neither does this allow extra parts to be changed. A manufacturers has 32 tokens he is allowed to change, and only once. The only change is that the manufacturer can choose now between using up a token before the season starts, or during the season. But once the token is used, it can’t be changed anymore.

      So in other words: if a manufacturer withholds for instance 10 tokens for inseason development, that means he will have to run the 2014 spec of those tokens before they introduce the 2015 one. It’s a choice between running a lesser power unit now for a better power unit later, and vice versa.

      IMO, this only helps Mercedes. They have a big advantage, and thus are in the position to see how the opposition is doing. If they are still behind despite unused tokens, then Mercedes will further develop those unused tokens to introduce later in the season to have a massive boost in advantage. If it’s too close for comfort, they’ll just use them up right away to have a less big advantage gain.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        3rd January 2015, 13:18

        @turbof1 – respectfully, I think you are wrong when stating:

        But once the token is used, it can’t be changed anymore.

        The Technical Regulations (appendix 4) talks about (modifiable) ‘items’ (not tokens). The table only defines that the ‘quota of total weighted items allowed for modifications’ is 32 for 2015.
        It does not define how often these can be changed within 2015.

        Further the Sporting Regulations defines:
        article 28.5:

        Only power units which have been homologated by the FIA in accordance with Appendix 4
        may be used at an Event during the 2014-2020 Championship seasons.

        appendix 4 – 1 a)

        A power unit delivered to the FIA after 28 February 2014 which has been modified in
        accordance with the Annual F1 Power Unit Homologation table in Appendix 4 to the F1
        Technical Regulations.

        appendix 4 – 2

        A manufacturer may homologate no more than one specification of power unit.

        Thus it does define a limit of 1 homologation per year. As long as the PU is homologated and at any time there is only 1 homologated PU (the last one).
        It does mean though that all (customer) teams have to use the same (homologated) unit.

        In principle a manufacturer can provide a new homologated PU for every race. But that would mean engine penalties galore and huge coordination issues.

        And 32 items can be changed within 2015; it does not define how often they are changed, as long as the new PU is homologated.

        1. The issue speaks for itself:

          Only power units which have been homologated by the FIA in accordance with Appendix 4
          may be used at an Event during the 2014-2020 Championship seasons.

          The FIA still has to homologate these things. You can’t homologate something again, else it isn’t homologation. This part falls completely in the fia’s hands and unlike the screw-up with forgetting a homogolation date, they have full control over this. I don’t think there’s room for interpretation there. Once the procedure has started for a homologating a part, it’s not reversable and you are stuck with it. The fia will just refuse to homologate any further alteration (except in case of cost saving, reliability). After all, they forfilled their end of the deal by allowing the first change.

          To reinforce my point about the homologation part, there is a clear precedence over the definition. Back in 2010 (only in 2010) the teams had to homologate their chassis’. Once homologated, they were not allowed to make changes except if force majeure (Marussia was allowed to make a change due a too small fuel tank). You can argue about the framework in which a part is homologated, but you can’t argue about a clear cut concept as homologation itself.

          1. ColdFly F1 (@)
            3rd January 2015, 17:42

            @turbof1 – As much as I like to agree with your interpretation, it is not what is written in the rules.
            The FIA does not homologate parts, it homologates whole Power Units (look at the line you quoted).

            Further, there is no line in either regulation that stipulates that only 1 homologation per year can be done!

          2. Yes, but if they held strictly to that interpretation, you can’t have more then 1 specification of PU, appendix 4 – 2 describes that. My guess is that it got succesfully reasoned to look article 28.5 and its appendices from the point of view of the parts, the ‘tokens’, and not the power unit as a unit (sounds strange I know), hence if they held strictly onto that then this discussion would not happen.

            I also think the term homologation has been used so much in the past, that you can’t look past the precedence. Remember, the fia technical and sporting regulation book is not the only source of regulation. Technical directives and even said, not written, directives are a source too.

            In the end, the fia holds the control over the homologation. However, what bothers me most is how weak and cultivated they are. We had fric banned because the fia pressed through its own interpretation. I find it very reasonable they could do the same with those set of rules they have.

            If the fia got disbanded tommorrow, nobody would notice any change. They’ve clearly lost any hold on it. And although I don’t think there’s room for updating one part several times throughout the season, I wouldn’t be surprised if it did went down that way.

            1. ColdFly F1 (@)
              3rd January 2015, 18:37

              @turbof1, I agree with you that the FIA uses much more than the letter of the regulations ‘rule’ over the sport.
              According to Toto Wolff “the FIA offered its version (of the rules interpretation)“. Let’s wait and see how they have clarified the rules, and if the limited the upgrade to 1 change per iterm/’token’.

              The interpretation I did is purely on what was written in the 2 regulations, following the FIA’s decision not to stick with a date for an ‘annual homologation’ (the FIA themselves went for the ‘letter’ this time, rather than what was intended).

              It is however interesting (see my comment below) what can/will happen if the FIA will allow various updates of the items/’tokens’ during the year.

    23. I like the complexity in F1 I must admit. I enjoy having to wait or work things out. I find it very cool that possibly Ferrari and/or Renault might need the extra time to get a turbo driveshaft to run at 120,000 rpm. It all means that the more time we waste on F1, the more we get out of it :)

      The only things that frustrate me are the dishonesty and stupidity. I’m guessing that the upcoming tests won’t have any proper timing data available, for example; that in next year’s races the crucial ERS usage will be invisible again, and that at some point Bernie’s stooge will try to zap Mercedes and/or McLaren with some new rule interpretation.

      But I feel that in Max’s day the engine disparity would have been fixed with more underhand chicanery, so things have actually got a bit better.

    24. Renault and Ferrari will likely catch up performance wise as they will have the more efficient engine design, a la Merc spec.
      Merc must be facing diminishing returns with developing performance.
      What Merc will have is the time to improve reliability. We will see but I feel Renault and Ferrari won’t have time to eek out performance and reliability at the same time.
      We are then left with Merc in a superior situation again, which if the season is anything like last year I really don’t mind!

    25. Sounds fair to me…….. given the rules! I mean, Honda had the chance to analyze all PUs, check the goods and the bads of every PU… then operate the necessary modif in order to have just the best ideeas integrated into their PU. Let’s be honest, Alonso’s move to McLaren was decided by the fact Honda had the chance&time to integrate just the best ideeas into their PU. But I’m pretty sure McLaren, Honda and Alonso won’t be happy at all…..!!!!!

    26. This is just a load of ********
      I am really sorry that I cannot speak Ukrainian here, as I would tell a lot of very rude words.

      This F1 must die.

    27. Looks to me like Mercedes and Honda might actually benefit the most from the ‘new rules’ (loophole). Here’s why:

      Merc already know they have the top 2014 spec engine. They could possibly even run it against a 2015 spec Ferrari/Renault and be competitive. They now have the luxury of extra time to perfect their 2015 engine whilst running a competitive 2014 engine, or a dominant 2014 engine if Renault and Ferrari hold back on introducing their 2015 versions as well – I don’t think it’s guaranteed that both manufacturers would necessarily take advantage of these new rules.

      All the while Honda should be at least at Merc 2014 standards relative to the others in 2014 spec, so one would assume that if indeed Renault/Ferrari did hold back on introducing their 2015 engines that Mclaren would enjoy an advantage until that happened.

      I do hope the Honda engine is competitive, as I definitely don’t see Red Bull or Ferrari getting anywhere near Mercedes now.

    28. ColdFly F1 (@)
      3rd January 2015, 18:19

      As the FIA has now confirmed that according to Appendix 4 of the Sporting Regulations upgrades are not limited to a final date, nor number of updates. And further that the only limit is the amount of ‘modifiable items’ to a quota of 32 (http://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/regulation/file/1-2015%20TECHNICAL%20REGULATIONS%202014-06-29.pdf), it now opens a few interesting strategic questions and opportunities.

      1) which are the 32 (weighted) items each manufacturer will update in 2015. As soon as they pick them they cannot change them. Thus maybe ‘commit’ to the first 16 at the start, and decide later with other 16 will deliver most bang for the buck.

      2) To yes/no include the 10 (weighted) items which cannot be further updated from 2016 (Upper/lower crankcase; Valve drive – Camshafts; Valve drive; Covers; Ancillaries drive). These items might not have the biggest impact on total performance, but if not updated they have to stick with the original 2014 spec.

      3) How often to update (homologate) the Power Unit? All customer teams must use the new specification Power Unit after it has been homologated (appendix 4 SR, article 4). Thus after each homologation all cars all committed to one of the 4/5 allowed changes of the Power Unit (elements).

      4) Teams can update the 32 (weighted) items of the Power Unit throughout the season and it would be smart to homologate a final Power Unit as late as possible in the season to carry the best items to the next seasons. If possible the homologation should be done after Abu Dhabi (there is no requirement in the regulation to actually race with the homologated Power Unit).

    29. Much ado about nothing. Yeah the max they will get is maybe an extra 2 months to finalize the 2015 engines. Some one might just ignore this loophole altogether and finalize the engines before the first race.

      The article from JA helps.
      http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2015/01/arms-race-game-changer-what-do-the-latest-changes-to-f1-engine-rules-mean/

    30. HahaHonda. Welcome back to f1 where the rules change at the whim of a mad man. Also thanks for the nascar car numbers that are completely unnecessary for any f1 fan older than 4 years.

    31. It seems to me Mercedes are more worried about Honda potential than with Ferrari and Renault.

      In any case, FIA is a joke. That way of making rules and change everything according to third parties needs…

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