Should Honda be barred from updating their engine?

Debates and Polls

Posted on

| Written by

Honda may find its return to Formula One in 2015 is going to be more difficult than it expected.

A rules clarification by the FIA means Honda is the only engine manufacturer which is forbidden from introducing engine upgrades during the season. The manufacturer is now in discussion with the sport’s governing body over the situation which threatens to leave them at a disadvantage.

The situation arose after the FIA failed in its attempt to impose the same block on in-season development which was in place last year. Following lobbying by Renault and Ferrari, the FIA accepted its own rules did not enforce that point for 2015.

That means Ferrari and Renault along with Mercedes, all of which homologated their engines last year, may now introduce upgrades during the season. But the FIA has ruled Honda cannot do so after it homologates its first engine at the end of February.

While the existing manufacturers can alter up to 32 of their quota of engine items over the coming season, Honda cannot change their design after the first race gets underway. But should they have the same opportunity as their rivals?


The scale of the disadvantage this puts Honda at should not be underestimated – and it doesn’t just threaten their performance this year. The disadvantage may remain with them throughout the life of the current engines, which are set to remain in use until 2020.

Next year each engine manufacturer – including Honda – will only be able to alter 25 items. This number will continue to fall over the following seasons. By the end of 2020, Honda will have only been able to introduce around two-thirds as many new components as their rivals.

The current situation is a blow for the only new manufacturer to commit to Formula One since the 1.6-litre hybrid turbo engines were introduced. The FIA should not put their commitment at risk by forcing them to play to a different set of rules to their rivals.


As it was Honda’s choice not to enter Formula One until the second year of the new engine regulations, they will have been aware this would place them at a disadvantage compared to their rivals when it comes to developing their engines.

But while Honda did not gain the benefit of running their engine at races every other weekend last year, they have been able to start a clean-sheet engine design with some prior knowledge of how their rivals had addressed the problems posed by the new rules.

Honda even had the chance to run a test unit last November – over two months earlier than any of their rivals had their engine running last year. The playing field isn’t necessarily level to begin with, so it doesn’t matter if the rules distinguish between Honda and their rivals to some extent.

I say

The FIA may have had no choice, but it is a shame it has felt it necessary to allow teams to push on with engine upgrade programmes after the season has begun. This was an important part of the original rules and will surely lead to an escalation in costs.

This is the most unsatisfactory aspect of the current engine regulations, as it comes at a time when engine costs should be encouraged to fall, not allowed to rise.

But now that some in-season development has been allowed, it’s hard to justify this being denied to the one team which has far less experience with the new units than their rivals. And it raises difficult questions over how the arrival of a new manufacturer could be accommodated in the future.

You say

Do you think the current engine regulations are fair to Honda? How should the regulations be altered – if at all?

Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Are the current engine rules fair to Honda?

  • Strongly disagree (50%)
  • Disagree (31%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (3%)
  • Agree (12%)
  • Strongly agree (5%)

Total Voters: 478

 Loading ...

An F1 Fanatic account is required in order to vote. If you do not have one, register an account here or read more about registering here. When this poll is closed the result will be displayed in stead of the voting form.

Debates and polls

Browse all debates and polls

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

154 comments on “Should Honda be barred from updating their engine?”

  1. its definitely unfair FIA should have allowed the same restrictive development all manufacturers

    1. “Unfair” when has F1 ever been fair? from the start of it’s inception F1 has been about having a competitive advantage over your rivals, and it’s still that way to this day, whether it’s with a powerful engine or as RBR has shown the last few seasons a fantastic chassis and superior aero. At the start of every season one or more teams will have an advantage over the rest, and this year will be no different. So i cannot agree it’s unfair.

      1. Maybe Haas shouldnt be allowed to develop any aerodynamics in his first year.

      2. A technical advantage based on superior development of the car is part of the sport. An artificial advantage imposed by the rules should not be

        1. It’s very easy to blame the rules when one team does a better job than the rest, every engine builder is responsible for producing the best engine package they can for the new season, and which ever team gets it right should keep their technical advantage, and for other teams to work harder without the need move the goal post.

    2. Completely unfair. Thought FL would encourage new participants.

    3. I mostly agree it’s fair as Honda have had the advantage knowing what (MB) they have to beat and have had 12 months extra development time to achieve it, it is unfair though if after running their 1st. year with a development freeze they are not allowed to make as many changes in their second year as the others have been allowed in their second year.

      1. Don’t see how Honda have an advantage – haven’t all teams now enjoyed a lot of dev time and the ability to learn from each other?

        1. Yes but existing team can only make X amount of changes, Honda have been able to sit back and watch what others have done with complete freedom to change as much as they like/can before the enter back into F1. So of course Honda do have an advantage in those terms.

          If they want fair play, then let them do in season development, but they shouldn’t be allowed 5 engines while others are only allowed 4, as that would give them a massive advantage over others, which is something they are rumoured to be pushing hard for. If they want it as a level playing field then make it level in all terms not just what suits a late party.

  2. Very unfair.

    It’s beyond me why F1 is already trying to push away a massive company like Honda. Surely having then as an engine manufacturer will do more good for the sport?

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      11th January 2015, 15:05

      +1 – if they want Audi, Porsche, BMW, or Toyota to join they have to be fair. If Honda came in with a super-advantage then maybe they could look and say “hey that’s not fair for the other engine manufacturers – obviously you benefited from an advantage coming in – no more engine improvements for you”.
      But don’t shoot them in the foot before the 1st race.

  3. This is so darn unfair. Imagine Audi coming in with their own engines in 2017. They come in with limited knowledge and experience, and will have to wait a full year to issue updates and make their engines better. Meanwhile, the other engine manufacturers have three to four years experience under their belt and will almost certainly eke out more performance advantage over the season.

    All in all, this seems like the FIA telling interested manufacturers, we don’t want you!

    I hope Honda doesn’t relent cause this fact doesn’t like it was known beforehand. Threaten to leave the sport…that’s the last resort.

    1. They will not attract many new manufacturers with such rule.

  4. It seems very strange to me that the other engine manufacturers can work within the 2015 rules but Honda has to work with 2014 rules minus one engine. Surely this will be challenged in some way legally.

    1. Yeah, you would think so right. THe issue is not as much Honda not being allowed to change anything, but more that the FIA backed down on manufacturers using this loophole interpretation to run different engines during the season, something that pretty clearly follows out of the rules was not meant to be allowed.

  5. As a lawyer, I say, it breaches principle of equality.

    When the new manufacturer enters F1 when the new engine regulations are already in force, it must be provided with level playing rules. If Honda must freeze their engines before March 1, ok, then let them develop their engines next year with 32 tokens. If you allow only 26 tokens, then let them develop this years engines during whole year (giving 32 tokens).

    It doesn’t matter when the manufacturer entered F1. Let’s say, BMW decides to enter F1 in 2017. What’s then? How FIA would solve such situation: allowing to develop engine until March 1 of 2017 and then freezing it forever (with minor modifiations allowed)? Or other kind of solution?

    All in all, FIA must get their act together. It’s not the first time they mess up.

    1. Agree. honda should simply be a year behind in tokens, next year they should have the same opportunity to develop as all other engine manufacturers currently in F1 have this year.

      Its not Honda’s fault the FIA overlooked the homologation loophole, that’s like blaming the teams for the ‘doodle’ nose cars after not writing the nose regulations correctlyfor last year……

  6. I think it’s unfair for Honda to not be allowed to develop this year’s engine, but it would be more unfair to allow them to develop it as much as the other manufacturers.

    Perhaps the fairest compromise would be to allow Honda a more limited upgrade after the engine has been homologated.

    I believe they should be given 7 points worth of upgrades, the difference between this year’s allowance & next’s.

    It won’t transform the performance, but it might just prevent them from falling behind during the season.

    1. This sounds great.

  7. So Honda are BARred from updating?

    I’ll see myself out then.

  8. Apologies, the wrong poll was on here initially. Changed now.

    1. @keithcollantine, I was a bit confused at first as the question in the headline and the question in the poll itself would elicit the opposite response. I hope everyone has read the poll carefully.

  9. No, the others shouldn’t be allowed to update in season. Although this gives them a hope of a big advantage for the early parts of the season.

    1. Hear Hear! FIA should have made a stronger stand against Ferrari and Renault. The more I learn about the FIA/F1, the more it disgusts me.

  10. Very unfair. It’s FIA’s incompetence all over again.

    It’s dead easy too. Homologation takes place the last day of febrary each year. And after that, until the next homologation, you have those tokens to modify.

    Febrary 2015 – Tokens – Febrary 2016 – Tokens, and so on…

    Honda would make the homologation date and be allowed to use the tokens, just like everyone else. They have less experience with the engine, but they also had 1 more year of development so that balances it out. Tough luck for the others, they could have retired after the engine formula was changed and return a year later if they wanted.

    What would it happen if VW or someone else decides to enter F1 next year? would this happen again? would it be the same way it’s been for Honda? if not that’s the Mount Everest of unfair situations. They’d make sure this doesn’t happen again so only Honda would be the victim of FIA’s incompetence.

    FIA failed to decide on a DATE. Can we all think about it? A DATE. It’s like sorting out the races for 2015 and forgetting about when the championship starts. The level of stupidity is way too high…

    They defend this engine formula to make it more relevant to road cars and also attract more manufacturers yet the only one that decided F1 was now on the right track gets doomed forever..

    1. @fer-no65 Agree with this and the posts by @jeeb and @osvaldas31 above. Honda are also the least likely to complain about engine costs too, basically having an open cheque-book for McLaren. If they were concerned, they could pick up a second engine supply.

  11. I still don’t fully understand this. What is the scope of updates the others can introduce? I was under the impression that they at all times need to race with a homologated engine. As they have a 2014 engine which has been homologated, they could start racing 2015 with this old engine and introduce their 2015-spec, newly homologated engine whenever they want (allowing them more time to develop it, but likely losing out to anybody with a newly homologated engine in the meantime), but that the allowed ‘upgrades’ just mean the single switch from 2014- to 2015-spec and that no further or staggered upgrades were actually allowed. Is this incorrect?

    1. The scope is the same as before, 32 upgrade tokens across particular subsystems. Accept rather than by the start of the season, they can be spent across the season and the new engine introduced after the first race. In theory at any point (but only once) though some F!-typical backroom trading means everyone will introduce their version two at the same time, no doubt.

    2. The intent was that tokens would be homologated, but the rules do not explicitly say the tokens must be homologamated. Thus they will introduce the tokens to the 2014 engines as they see fit unhomologated. It may be subject to protest as it is not black and white. Melbourne may see only 2 cars classified yet!

  12. Of course the engine rules are unfair to Honda. However, they were the ones who read the regulations and then deferred their entry to 2015, so I have absolutely zero sympathy whatsoever for them. The regulations were written and set in stone. If others found loopholes, then that’s what Honda missed out on by choosing to enter in 2015 as oppose to 2014. Regulations should only be changed after they have been written for safety reasons, not because the new guy throws a strop.

    1. @craig-o

      Regulations should only be changed after they have been written for safety reasons

      I disagree, they should also be changed when there is an obvious error. In this case the change should not be to allow Honda to develop their engine but rather to force the teams to homologate before the first race. If they can force Honda to do it by a date which wasn’t defined then why can’t they do it for the rest of the teams and tell them they can try to exploit the loophole but that the FIA will kick them out if they do and they’ll have to take their chances on an appeal. I think the manufacturers would rather not take the risk of having to do that.

      1. If they can force Honda to do it by a date which wasn’t defined then why can’t they do it for the rest of the teams

        I have to agree.

        I can see 2 interpretations of the rules. The first, which is obviously the intent, is that you can make modifications to last years engine and homologate it, but only once. It is clear from everything which has been said by the FIA in the past that this was what they intended, but the rules have not been written clearly enough to define it.

        The second interpretation is that the teams can introduce the changes throughout the season. However, I see no reason written in the rules that this would not apply to Honda as well. They are making up the rules they put on Honda as they go along, and I expect a strong challenge from them over this.

        1. The second interpretation is that the teams can introduce the changes throughout the season. However, I see no reason written in the rules that this would not apply to Honda as well

          It’s because they don’t have any tokens to spend, if they did they would be able to spend them mid-season as well

  13. I think it’s about right. They have free reign to make their engines as they wish before homologation next month, which the other manufacturers do not. Let’s not be naive about what they know about the different engines last year – they know a lot. They can see what has worked and implement it with absolutey no penalty, when both Renault and Ferrari are restricted within the token system in their attempt to close the gap to Mercedes. They may not have a year of running, like the others, but those things will have done far more miles on the dyno.

    Ideally, Honda would have entered last year at the start of the new formula. But they didn’t, and it is unfair on Renault and Ferrari (and Merc, to some extent) that a newcomer is allowed to jump in on the party with whatever they want, when they’re restricted on their changes.

    1. In fact, didn’t Honda choose to defer for a year? You’d have to have been born yesterday if you didn’t think part of that was to learn more from 2014 and get an advantage for 2015.

    2. I agree with your point entirely, however if Honda has to run their 1st. year under the same rules as MB-F-R ran their 1st. year, then Honda should be able to run their 2nd year with the same opportunities as MB-F-R have in their 2nd year. That is why I could neither agree or disagree.

  14. I don’t understand why Honda should be affected of what rules the others faced last year. Surely they should all have the same rules this year?

    If somebody had come in with a new engine last year they would not have worked with rules for 2013…

  15. “Are the current engine rules fair to Honda?”
    That’s a yes/no question. I can’t agree/disagree, strongly or otherwise !

    1. Alexander (@)
      11th January 2015, 15:20

      Good point that has been relevant in earlier polls as well

      1. @falken @alexanderfin @coldfly You either agree the engine rules are fair or you disagree they are, or neither. I don’t see what the confusion is here.

        1. Although that’s the clear intention, you still can’t technically agree with a question- the way it’s phrased simply doesn’t make sense even if it is obvious what you mean.

        2. @keithcollantine, I agree Honda should have to run their 1st. year under the same conditions and rules as MB-F-R had to run their 1st.year. I disagree that Honda should then not be able to make as many changes in their 2nd year as MB-F-R are allowed in their 2nd. year. So I neither agree 100% or disagree 100%.

        3. I got confused… Oh dear, voted for the opposite of what I meant.

          It would be easier if it was just a statement and you agreed/disagreed.

          1. Actually, it’s because I misread the question. I saw “Unfair” where it says “Fair”

            My bad.

        4. While I know what you’re going for this is not the proper way to write a poll question, it leads to confusion and in the end, meaningless data.

          A question needs the options of yes/no/undecided. A statement gets agree/disagree/not sure.

          If you compare the poll results to the contents of the comments section you can see it’s quite likely the poll was widely misinterpreted.

    2. ColdFly F1 (@)
      11th January 2015, 15:43

      I strongly agree with the question.
      But do not know where to submit the answer!

      cc.: @KeithCollantine

  16. It’s the wording the FIA have used which upsets me the most as they’ve made a clear distinction between making a “fair and equitable” ruling (Honda) and following the letter of the law for everyone else.

    This is in no doubt due to the pressure applied by Ferrari and Renault as legally with the current wording it could be challenged, this is typical of the FIA as we’ve seen over time. What annoys me is that despite the same loophole also applying to Honda’s situation they’ve decided to treat it differently and ask that Honda homologate before a date that they’ve effectively made up in the interest of fairness.

    Cue pressure from Honda and McLaren and the FIA will either go back on itself again or cede ground somewhere behind closed doors providing Honda some new secret handshakes.

  17. Unfair
    Having a major brand like Honda involved is good for the sport. Giving a disadvantage is just stupid because the more people that thinks it’s unfair the more people slowly quit f1.

  18. I am a little confused actually.

    According to JA’s article the teams can homoglate their engine only one time in a year and once homoglated they cannot change it. So the teams will start with last year’s engine and they will introduce their 2015 engine when they are ready. Once introduced they cannot change it. It is not like they can keep updating their engine throughout the year.

    There is a big downside to this, all teams starting with 2014 engine will be behind those teams that start with their 2015 spec or keep their position of 2014, so Ferrari an red bull would still be behind Mercedes teams. On top of it they will be forced to use it fo atleast 5 races.

    The positive is they will have longer time to develop their engine.

    Engine update or any kind of update is done against the older part, that is where they learn from the old part what is and is not working and improve it. But they already know their 2014 spec engines so by waiting longer they are not going to learn anything new.

    Are they hoping to learn new ideas from their rivals and improve in a few months? Unlikely. They had a year to work on the new engine and still struggling to hit the start of the season time. Not to mention the logistics of getting all those parts made for all their teams.

    The way I see it Honda will not be at any disadvantage over in season upgrade rule as it’s not like other teams are going to have continuos updates to their engine. However I do feel Honda are at a disadvantage due to 4 engines rule and also decreasing tokens rule. FIA might one year just unlock it completely so new manufacturers can get in.

    So all this discussion and calling it unfair is baffling to me! Am I missing something?

    1. @vishy, I think you have the right of it.

      I have not read a single comment or article yet that convinced me of any significant advantage this loophole confers. Perhaps Keith should have started the article stating exactly what is allowed for next year, and what is not. As I understand, engine manufactures are not allowed to run any new tokens during race weekends until they homologate their 2015 unit, after which they are not allowed to run the 2014 unit anymore.

      The only exception, I expect, is during the official test sessions, so the winter tests and the two in-season tests, as they do not have to run a legal car then.

      So the loophole hardly allows manufacturers to develop ‘across the season’.

      1. @adrianmorse – I totally agree with you, the one big grey area is the in-season testing. They could potentially run any number of different engine specs during that time and then decide to homologate the one that works best. Apart from that small time window there does not seem to be any major disadvantage to Honda. I think Honda is posturing just like all other teams.

    2. @vishy @adrianmorse – There does seem to be some disagreement about how the rules have been interpreted. JA’s interpretation would certainly be a lot fairer to Honda than if the other teams were allowed to upgrade through the season or homologate several different engines through the season (which is certainly open to interpretation). This may be what Honda will be pushing for clarification on currently.

      Even if JA’s interpretation is correct the other teams will have a slight advantage. This will come from being able to run a car with the un-homologated engine in FP using it for testing. This would give a huge advantage in tweaking engine components that would otherwise be locked down as testing F1 cars is severely restricted.

      1. @jimbo – Regarding using the un-homologated engine in FP, i think that is not possible. Even in 2014 the teams had to use one of the allotted 5 engines during FPs. So if they were to use an un-homologated engine, firstly it would have to then immediately become a race engine lasting 5 races and secondly it cannot be modified anymore.

        1. @vishy – Yes you’re correct – 2015 Sporting Regs “each driver may use no more than 4 power units per season” – which includes FP and qualifying.

  19. I really can’t see any reason why there should be a special set of rules for any engine or team.

  20. C’mon these are supposed to be grown up men handling this issue? Overpaid too. It’s their incompetence that lead to cars looking like they did last year. If they can’t make a fair decision, let someone else do it for them.

    Suppose McLaren performance is even worse than last year, and then you add this limitation, how fair is that? Or suppose they can match Merc from time to time? Who will suffer from that? Certainly not the F1 fans, if FIA remember them.

    1. “Suppose McL performance is even worse………….., how fair is that?”

      Exactly as fair as it was for all the teams without a Merc engine in 2014.

  21. Honda is being asked to follow the rules they expected, which is not unfair. They were never allowed to implement 32 tokens for 2015, so giving them any right to modify anyway would be hugely unfair towards the other manufacturers.

    On the other hand the existing manufacturers were allowed and planned an update for 2015. They all expected that they needed to have the upgrades implemented for a 2015 homologation before the season started. Since this is not explicitly mentioned, FIA found it appropriate to allow upgrades during the season. That is obviously somewhat unfair to Honda.

    What I don’t understand is why FIA couldn’t just maintain the intention of the rules, although it isn’t explicitly written that way. To my knowledge no manufacturer have said that they expected upgrades during the season to be allowed. So it isn’t like anybody has been planning for anything but pre season homologation.

    Ultimately, if the explicit wording of the Sporting Regulations has to be complied with, Honda cannot participate. The rules talks about a PU homologated before 28 February 2014, and subsequent modifications to such a PU. Honda did not homologate before that date, so there is no way they can comply with the rules.

  22. I think people forget that Honda didn’t had an engine ready in 2014 and the question is why? My opinion is that they either wanted to see what others will develop or just… see how it goes. If Honda would have wanted to provide an engine for McLaren, they could have done it in 2014, which never happend because either Honda was unsure of their engine or they wanted to see what others developed. The regulations thou shouldn’t be made as to accept any random manufacturer to enter whenever he wants just for the fun of it since that’s an unfair advantage.

    Honda developed an engine, we don’t know if they started the development in 2013 or 2014 or earlier so that’s the mistake. The 1st homologation was in 2014 and Honda was nowhere to be found, thus they need to homologate the engine this year. Since it’s the 1st year for them… would be really fair to let them develop? They already had 1 year of developments without any control. Honda was not racing in Formula 1 in 2014, they never to test the engine, prepare it for races, stick with anything that didn’t worked or anything related to that, nope, they could develop the engine as they wanted. Now let’s see the results!

    P.S. The rules should have written fair, which means that who does not enter in 2014 should enter in a different year, let’s say 2016, when the rest could develop the engine like any other new engine manufacturer. This never happend so… as always FIA is lame at whatever they do, that’s the problem.

    Also isn’t that quite curious that Honda wants to develop an engine that they already tested way more than any other manufacturer, with information from the McLaren guys? It’s obvious that the McLaren guys gave them any information they could find, to help them develop the engine better. Which sadly is not fair….

  23. El presidente
    11th January 2015, 15:20

    I think, the author is right in saying the whole development should have been blocked. It is ridiculous that the FIA has bent over once again.
    Cost will improve, and Merc will be unbeatable. Even more so with the development. Let’s be realistic, MB has the best engine, the best facilities, and the best recourse. Now Williams was sort of close, but with in-season-development We now know that even Williams can not pose a threat anymore to Merc since they will be supplied “B-spec” engines. (anyone who believes different is very naive imo) so please let Honda develop, and make it an interesting competitive series again.

    The more i read about F1, the bigger fan i become of Formula-E.

    1. We now know that even Williams can not pose a threat anymore to Merc since they will be supplied “B-spec” engines.

      Huh? Considering Mercedes can only have one homologated engine at a time I find that unlikely…

      1. @keeleyobsessed Same engine, but I have read here some time ago that Williams had to ask permission to use the overtake button?

        1. @spoutnik

          As such an order would appear to be against Mercedes ‘let them race’ philosophy everyone was singing praises about, I’m going to doubt that.

          Plus, I follow F1Fanatic almost religiously, including the round-ups, and I still don’t recall reading anything of the sort..

          1. @keeleyobsessed a quick search shows an article from Mark Hughes from motorsportmagazine, and at least a tweet from Keith.

          2. @spoutnik – Those engines are very complex and are managed by a team of Mercedes engineers. The permission is dependent on the state of the engine and if it is possible or safe at that time (for the engine) to use the overtake mode. A subsequent comment from MH clarifies this somewhat:

            How many times? A lot. It would keep the technician busy throughout the race. These power units are way more operationally complex than the old V8s, there are all sorts of potentially damaging things you can do to the ers system and if you’ve only just deployed overtake you’d need to ensure the battery had taken on enough new charge that it wouldn’t be damaged if you used it again.

            Plus: update. I have now been informed Massa WAS using the overtake facility at the time Hamilton passed him. He’d been told the previous lap not to use it, but the delay in transmission to the tv feed made it seem as if he was being told not to use it only seconds before Hamilton passed him.

            After which he removed the original claims from the article. This also showed he made the claims without knowing the full story leading to conspiracy theories being bandied about. Be wary of sensationalist claims by the media.

          3. The Radio article (which the tweet links to) does not have any reference to Williams asking Mercedes. It’s about Bottas asking his team whether he is allowed to use OT (A common message from various drivers should they feel the need to defend a position).

            The Mark Hughes article does appear to back up the view, but I’m still sceptical. This would surely be inter-team orders and therefore not allowed (or at least, frowned upon). People moan about Red Bull having a ‘4 car team’ with Toro Rosso, but this would be an ‘8 car team’ (Only 6 in 2015, but still more than 4).

            Also, where was this precious little line of information in Austria? Or Abu Dhabi?

  24. This situation is really incredibly simple.

    All manufacturers need a homologated engine with which to run. Only 1 engine can be homologated per year, and there are limits on what can be changed from one year to the next. If your engine is not homologated, you cannot run it. If you have already homologated an engine this year, then you must run it (only one homologated engine per manufacturer).
    Honda, having not been in the 2014 championship, currently have no homologated engine. They must enter one before the first race (28th February) otherwise McLaren will not be allowed to race. All the other manufacturers can continue to use their 2014 engine for as long as they want, but must homologate their 2015 engine with LIMITED changes at some point (Pre-Australia, in time for Europe, whatever). That is their homologation for the year, whilst Honda have used their homologation to enter this year.

    The loophole is stupid, but that is the logical interpretation of it. I see a homologation deadline coming in for the 2016 regs to stop this happening in future, as engine development in-season is not what the FIA wanted.

    1. All manufacturers need a homologated engine with which to run. Only 1 engine can be homologated per year, and there are limits on what can be changed from one year to the next.

      Actually, having had this discussion with someone else, with me arguing the point you are making, I have been forced to accept that it is not in the rules that there is only one homologation per year.

      The rules say that;
      a) You can only run a homologated engine,
      b) You can only modify an engine as defined in the tech regs from last year, and then submit it for homologation, and
      c) A manufacturer can have only one homologated engine.

      So, strictly by the letter of the rules, I see no reason they could not submit an engine before the first race using only, say, half the tokens, run it for 5 races, then submit another engine using the other half of the tokens. The wording means that, at any one time, they only have one homologated engine, and only that engine can be run by the teams, but it does not specifically say that it must be the same engine throughout the season.

      1. @drmouse I think the worst strict interpretation of the rules (wrt Honda) is that there is nothing that explicitly states that these “tokens” are single use. Ie all the other manufacturers could homologate a PU for the first race with development done on all 32 weighted items and then 4 races later re-homologate the PU with further modifications done on those items, and do that twice more through the season.

  25. Honda have had more time to build their engines and could upgrade it how they preferred to during the whole 2014 season, unlike their rivals. But I guess that without running they know less than their rivals and overall they are at a disadvantage.

  26. @keithcollantine, I think the article fails to mention two very important points. First of all as far as I know, the new Honda engine is to be homologated the 28th of februari, not actually at the first race. Second, the rules state that each team can homologate 1 engine each season. That would mean teams are allowed to run their 2014 engine untill the point they decide to introduce their 2015 engine with all it’s updates. Continued development, even when the token budget is not used, would therefor not be allowed. There seems to be some confusion about this, and I might very well be totally wrong, but this would mean any engine supplier must choose a point when to switch from 2014 to 2015 engine spec. That means Honda would have an advantage early on, competing with 2014 engines, while later in the season having to compete with longer developed 2015 engines.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      11th January 2015, 16:10

      @me4me, it is mentioned nowhere in the rules that ‘each team can homologate 1 engine each season.’
      The FIA left out such reference to time in the rules; part of the reason for the loophole(s).

      1. I was under the impression that only the date for the homologation of the 2015 engine was unspecified, but that it indeed was 1 homologation per season.

        1. of course, had there been an explicit date for each season when a new engine had to be homologated, this wouldn’t have come up @me4me, that’s one of the (extra) loopholes as @coldfly mentions. The FIA really made it difficult for themselves by not just postulating the date to be the 28th of feb (as they do for Honda, who don’t have a date either, but need to homologate before the 1st race – but now it is 28th of feb ‘as in 2014’).

        2. @me4me – No, the only mention in the rules is that a manufacturer can have only 1 homologated PU [at a time]. The reason this meant that they could only homologate one PU for 2014 was that there were no tokens available for modifying the PU in 2014 so any further PU would have been identical. (There is a section allowing modification for reliability, safety or cost saving reasons but that is heavily restricted and not for performance increases).

  27. I have ‘limited knowledge’ of what information Honda has and hasn’t with respect to their rivals. But all the three other teams were shooting in the dark in the first season as well.

    Even after finding out that they were short of performance, they couldn’t do anything about it. All this while Honda have knowledge of the dominance of Mercedes and have a full year to work on their engine.

    Hence it is fair that they are not allowed in-season development for this year. They can fix what they want next year with additional tokens as compared to the three other manufacturers.

    It is hard but not unfair, IMHO.

    1. @evered7 They don’t have additional tokens compared to the other teams next year, only 25 like everyone else. The other teams will not have stopped development on their PUs either, they will have been developing them constantly through 2014 for this year incorporating all the knowledge from the thousands of miles of practice and racing of the current engines; the 32 tokens allow for a lot of changes. They have now found a loophole that allows them to potentially continue development through the 2015 season too. That is what Honda is worried about.

  28. I disagree.

    Anyway, @keithcollantine I think you got the For and Against parts mistaken. The part titled “For” should’ve been titled “Against”, and vice versa. If, that is, I’m not mistaken.

  29. It is not fair to stop Honda from updating their engines this year. As they are in the first year they should homologate on Feb 28 and then be allowed to use their 32 tokens like everybody else this year itself.
    If FIA applies the rules of year 1 that other engine manufacturers were given in their first year, then should Honda not be allowed 5 instead of 4 engines per driver. If they are denied updates this year, then in 2016 should they not be allowed 32 tokens, instead of the 25 the other engine manufacturers have? When will the disparity end.
    They should after the first homologation be allowed to update further like everybody else this year. So when manufacturers start 2016, they are all on the same level. Also the FIA needs to make clear how the rules will be applied to new entrants in the years to come.

  30. ColdFly F1 (@)
    11th January 2015, 16:28

    I would say is is fair that Honda can only homologate 1 engine in 2015 if the other manufacturers can only homologate 1 single upgrade during 2015 (be it before or during the season).
    In effect Honda has 66 tokens vs the rest 32 (plus a year’s experience).

    However, if the others can spread out the 32 tokens over the year – thus having more than one 2015 spec engine – then Honda should be given that option as well (and develop 32 tokens further during the year).

    The rules, and explanation thereof, are so far not clear if upgrades can be ‘staggered’.

    1. @coldfly – I’m thinking now that the rules don’t even state that the tokens are single use. Ie the other manufacturers could homologate an engine for the start of the season with modifications to all 32 areas and do the same 4 races later, and then after another 4 etc. There doesn’t appear to be anything explicitly outlawing this once you accept that multiple homologations are allowed per season. It seems to be the ultimate logical conclusions once you start along that path :(

      If that is the case then I think for Honda the fairest and most equitable thing to do would be to change Appendix 4 of the sporting regs so both sections are for 2015:

      a) A power unit delivered to the FIA no later than 28 February 2015.

      b) A power unit delivered to the FIA after 28 February 2015 which has been modified in accordance with the Annual F1 Power Unit Homologation table in Appendix 4 to the F1 Technical Regulations.

      This would put them on the same footing as everyone else. The FIA have already said they are effectively doing that to part a), they just need to do it to part b) too.

      1. They should do that for any new manufacturers too, so if next year someone entered they would be eligible to use 25 tokens to develop the PU after 28 Feb 2016 and re-homologate in that season.

      2. ColdFly F1 (@)
        12th January 2015, 13:49

        @jimbo, agree; that’s exactly how I read it.
        And as proposed by you would be the most equitable way forward for Honda and other new entrants.

  31. This is unfair on every level. It is another FIA shambles and just begging for a legal challenge. The whole approach taken by FOM and FIA appears to discourage new entries and I cannot see why a new manufacturer (engines or cars) would want to step into this mess. F1 may have needed Bernie many years ago but he now appears, at least to me, to be bad for F1. The FIA is not much better although most of the balme should not go to the current head man (Jean Todt) – selling the rights to F1 for such a long time and for next to nothing??? I can see F1 heading downhill for a long time to come. I recall the single car teams who did not all do a full season, why could we not allow somehting like that again?

  32. I am still confused about what this new clarifications mean.. Are merc,Renault and Ferrari allowed to use their 32 tokens after they homologate their 2015 engines? Or do they have to run their 2014 engines till they decide what mods they have to make in their pu components ? Are the existing engine manufactures allowed to use 32 tokens at different stages or do they have to use all of them at one shot?

  33. I find it unfair to not allow Honda to develop their engines in season. They must homologate the engine before the first race, but barring them from upgrading the engine in season will leave them at a disadvantage as they have no previous running.
    IMO, upgrades cannot help Honda if they don’t have a good engine design to challenge Mercedes. Mercedes is way ahead right now to be caught by upgrades.

  34. Apex Assassin
    11th January 2015, 17:16

    FIA needs to go. Their ridiculous interference in the sport is hardly cost effective. None of their initiatives have helped RACING. And if you think they have you need to look up what “racing” actually means.

    For example, restricting development or stifling fuel flow is NOT RACING.

    Let the sport manage itself and take the FIA, FOM, and Bernie out!

  35. Honda should be under the same regulations as the teams they are competing against in the same season. That is the only conclusion that is fair and makes complete sense.

    It could be argued Honda gained from the other engine builders’ experience in 2014. Honda has knowledge gained from outside that experience, not directly. Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari have tons of real world data. Even with the same regulations in the same race season for 2015, Honda is still a season behind in actual development.

    The FIA is their own worst enemy and worst manager of their own regulations and reputation. What signal does this send to any other manufacturers that the FIA may be hoping to attract to F1? This part of the regulations was never made clear to Honda from the beginning and evidently not to the FIA either, even though it is their own regulations.

    Attention FIA – do the right thing for once. Let all teams race under the same set of regulations for 2015.

  36. I think Honda should be allowed the full 32 tokens for 2015. Realistically the benefit wouldn’t be as great as you might first assume. First and foremost, although Honda have theoretically had an advantage in terms of hindsight, the missing year’s worth of data is more valuable in my opinion, made evident by Honda’s struggles during the Abu Dhabi tests.

    Honda won’t know exactly what they need to work on until they’ve completed some representative testing, and under the current rules they’ll forever miss out on 48% worth of development.

    At this point the other manufacturers have had almost 11 months since their original engines were homologated to work on these 32 tokens – and they’re still not happy with what they’ve achieved in that time.

    Between homologation day for Honda on the 28th Feb and the last race of the season there are less than 9 months. During that time they will be dealing with teething problems, and also balancing development of the 26 tokens for 2016. By giving them the opportunity to work on 2015’s 32 tokens as well there would be A LOT of work for them to get through and I suspect it wouldn’t benefit them massively aside from being able to correct glaring errors and gain a bit of performance. No-one can argue that isn’t fair in the context of the (revised) rules.

    All of this could have been avoided if the FIA had done the right thing and stuck by the original rules and deadlines, but by giving in to Renault and Ferrari’s wishes, they should at least ensure that all teams are given the same opportunity.

  37. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
    11th January 2015, 17:50

    It’s 2015. Not 2014. Honda should be allowed the same capacity to update hardware as any other manufacturer. Honda it’s not likely to be at the same level as the others (in theory) so they are not stealing a march on the others anyway.

  38. It’s certainly unfair on Honda, however it is an unfair rule in a whole list of unfair rules. When drivers get called to the weigh bridge in the middle of qualifying and lose a chance at a decent grid position no one really cares, because it’s usually not a top driver. I think we should pay attention to all unfair rules not just those that disadvantage a multi billion pound company. I would like to see the FIA lift this restriction, but inevitabely the other teams would rather it stay in place.

  39. Typical lawyers in action.The fia should ban themselves from making rules.

  40. All down (again) to the person writing the FiA rulebook either not having a clue, not having adequate legal support or putting in loopholes on purpose because certain teams don’t care too much for cost cutting. I’m starting to believe the latter.

  41. Ferrari won’t stand for Honda being able to improve. They are having a difficult enough time with Mercedes and Renault having a better PU.

  42. It should be the same rules for all. It’s stupid to block Honda, it makes no sense to handicap them from the off. It’s not like F1 has an abundance of engine supplies is it?

    1. But if Honda can have a 100% new engine for 2015 ” the same rules for all ” would allow MB-F-R to all have a 100% new engine for 2015. a typical FIAsco.

  43. Just think of all the money Honda will save!!!

    Funny how trying to “save” F1 only seems to make things worse. Formula One was never supposed to be all-inclusive.

  44. I expect the Honda engine to be a dog, so more development time would be good for the racing.

  45. I don’t think it’s fair but that’s on the FIA, they didn’t create a system that allows for new engine manufacturers, in fact they created a system that discourages new entrants.

    A bigger factor to me with the current “clarification” is that Honda must now achieve the same reliability as the other manufacturers with 1 less engine as the others. If they’re being held to last year’s rules/schedule, should the 5th engine not be included? Yes, improvements are allowed based on reliability factors, but now Honda/Mclaren must effectively ‘burn’ an engine or more on 1 of their cars to learn that reliability lesson which puts them at 3 or less for the year.

    They are penalized, perhaps as they should be for deferring a year, but they are penalised more so than is fair. If I was Audi and thinking about entering as is rumored, I would be reconsidering in a big way. How are the manufacturers supposed to get the brand exposure against their rivals on a global scale if they’re playing with an arm tied behind their back.

  46. I strongly agree. Why? Honda did not plea the calling for the new rules, they waited 1 year to earn an advantage, and with this mess, Honda’s advantage is lessen.

  47. I think the current engine rules are unfair, as Honda have only just come back into the sport, and they should have more freedom with their engine than Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes as they need a competitive car, and the only way they can do that is through development.

  48. Trenthamfolk (@)
    11th January 2015, 21:43

    F1, for me, is about science, innovation, development and progress…. as well as the glamour, speed, racing and drama. A ban on engine development goes against the grain of F1 in the most fundamental way not to mention the mindless inequality in the arrangement. Ferrari will be happy no doubt…

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      11th January 2015, 23:05

      @trenthamfolk – very good point.

      However let’s go back 1 year; from 2006 (Japanese GP) until 2013 there was an almost total engine freeze (except for KERS inclusion).
      And when there was any development it was arbitrary to allow 1 manufacturer to catch up!

      Your point is spot on for those years.

      What we have now might not be ideal, but it is lightyears better (less frozen) than in 06-13.

      1. no it isn’t as there is no scope for ‘Equalization’.

        1. @asanator – Sure there is, it’s called diminishing returns. The closer you get to the maximum power levels current technology allows the harder it is to extract extra power. By allowing development through several years you will automatically get some equalisation.

        2. ColdFly F1 (@)
          12th January 2015, 14:06

          @asanator – Though ‘Equalization’ was a ‘cheap’ way of allowing poorly prepared competitors to get an ‘out of jail card’. In effect penalising the better team who achieved most ‘science, innovation, development and progress’.

          It is like telling Usain Bolt’s competitors that they only have to run 90mts!

          And @jimbo makes an excellent point. The weaker the current unit, the more room for improvement for Renault and Ferrari.

          1. @jimbo @coldfly Not if the engine manufacturers can’t change what they need to due to the existing ‘token’ (48%) system.

          2. @asanator I would be very surprised if the other engine manufacturers got the initial designs so wrong that changing the design of half of it couldn’t make up the deficit. For example the various MGU-H and Pressure Charging system tokens add up to 11 tokens. Another 2 tokens for mods to the cylinder head if needed; 13 tokens to modify the turbo layout to something similar to Merc. That leaves more than half the tokens for other areas of development.

  49. I do disagree, this problem is FIA’s mistake.

  50. I think FIA should follow the original intention of the engine-update rule – and allow just Ferrari to update their engines.

    1. Lol

  51. this really confused me – the question in the poll is the opposite to the one in the headline. also @keithcollantine can you (or anyone else) explain why honda has to fall into line with the other manufacturers for 2016 developments? i.e. they will get the same number of tokens next years as all the others even though they get none this year. it seems absurd that they are treated as a 2014 entrant for this year, but not the next thereby missing all the year-two advantages (presumably where much of the advantageous learning is done)

  52. I strongly agree. The others can choose to start with a 2014 engine then switch to a 2015+ spec by adding 2016-on parts, trading off slow early races against faster ones later on.

    Honda only have a 2015 engine though. They knew the best solutions and suppliers.

    What Honda are asking is to start with a 2015 engine then introduce some 2016 parts.

    There’s no really level playing field, but the current ruling is closer than the alternative.

  53. Actually if the “old” manufacturers can only use 1 version of homologated engine in a season, I wouldn’t mind Honda don’t get the upgrade. Heck, I wouldn’t mind about the current situation as long as they give honda 5 PU this season, because obviously FIA refer to previous year deal to maintain the homologation date for Honda, thus just give them 5 PU.
    This problem only arise because some manufacturers find a hole in the rule. If it weren’t for that, I’m sure Honda wouldn’t make a fuss about it. FIA just dig a hole for itself by agreeing with those manufacturers.

  54. Fair. Honda chose to enter in year 2. They already had 1 extra year to develop their engines looking at others. They already have an advantage to improvise.

  55. I think the engine rule is fair. Honda are subject to the same rules as everyone else.

    They don’t have to homologate their 2015 engine yet, of course McLaren will be left with a couple of Flintstones cars but from recent form it shouldn’t hurt then too badly.

    If a concession is made to Honda, it had to be for everyone so the 2015 spec engines can either be run at the start of the season and also upgraded midway or Honda can suck it up for waiting a year.

  56. In this whole biased rant against FIA you forget that homologating the engine later also means starting the season with a 2014 engine spec. That would put them at (most likely) a huge deficit to the team(s) running a 2015 homologated engine.

    They get only one homologation per season. It’s not like they can just introduce 32 tokens randomly over the whole season.

    1. @patrickl

      this whole biased rant against FIA

      The entire article only includes three paragraphs of my own opinion.

      1. Yet there really isn’t a single paragraph in the whole article which isn’t worded to drive home your opinion:
        – going to be more difficult than it expected.
        – the situation which threatens to leave them at a disadvantage.
        – FIA failed in its attempt
        – FIA has ruled Honda cannot do so
        – Honda cannot change their design

        etc etc etc

        We get it, the FIA is inept and Honda is at a huge disadvantage. Yet they might win the first few races because of it …

        Honda also get the 32 tokens for 2016 while the other teams have only 25 then.

        1. @patrickl The sections you’ve referred to do not convey my opinion and I have tried to make those areas of text clear and unambiguous while also engaging to read. If you’re choosing to take a few phrases out of context in order to read something else into it, there’s nothing I can do about that.

          Honda also get the 32 tokens for 2016 while the other teams have only 25 then.

          I appreciate the rules are pretty complex and are themselves a point of dispute but I don’t see how you’re arriving at that conclusion based on the current regulations. The technical regulations say teams have a quota of 25 items they can change next year (appendix 4). They don’t seem to say anything about a manufacturer which entered in 2015 instead of 2014 getting the 2015 allocation in 2016, which appears to be what you’re implying.

          1. They do convey your opinion in the way they are specifically worded to do just that and all pointing at the exact same opinion. No balance in writing whatsoever.

            For instance you leave out the advantages for McLaren Honda if the other teams actually do start on old spec engines and the fact that they all can only homologate one engine for 2015.

            Besides, Honda already have the benefit of being able to pick out what worked best last season and they most likely have quite intimate knowledge of the 2014 Merc power train.

            They are therefore in a much better position to come up with a good design than Ferrari and Renault do. So why would Honda need even more of an advantage by having two homologated power trains in 2015?

            If you actually look at the whole picture, it’s far from all doom and gloom for Honda. If they did their homework right, they should end up over half a second a lap faster for the first few races. If all the other teams actually do risk starting on the 2014 spec engines that is.

            Autosport claimed that Honda will have 32 tokens for 2016. Until proven otherwise, I’ll go with that. I also read it in other places, but those might have just copied Autosport.

        2. @patrickl “Honda also get the 32 tokens for 2016 while the other teams have only 25 then.”

          this is wrong – they will get 25, same as the other teams. this is the bit I can’t get my head around – it seems really unfair.

          1. Well I assumed that too, but Autosport claimed that Honda would have 32 tokens for 2016. Not sure where they got that from, but they strike me as a reputable F1 Magazine, so I assume they have better understanding of the rules than me. I don’t care enough to research it further either :)

    2. As far as I have heard, @keithcollantine can maybe verify for me, only Caterham have permission to use the 2014 engines. Does that not imply that the other teams have to already use an updated version?

      One thing that is very clear, if the FIA and teams don’t know what’s going on, how are the fans supposed to know? How do you increase viewership if people don’t know what’s going on?

      1. Caterham have permission to use the 2014 chassis. Don’t think it was just the engine.

        It’s a loophole that the teams might use. It’s not set in stone that they will.

    3. Trenthamfolk (@)
      12th January 2015, 21:11

      @patrickl In fairness, this is @keithcollantine site and he can say what he likes. That’s MY opinion. Lighten up!

      1. I don’t want you replying to me with things against that go against my opinion!

        See how silly that sounds?

  57. The reality is that if Honda turn up at the first race with a banzai engine in the back of that McLaren, which is creaming the opposition, the FIA are going to look pretty stupid if they allow Honda to develop as per the other engine manufacturers. If, however it’s the other way around and the McLaren Honda is getting trounced, the ruling will look like a reverse handicap in a horse race. I think, whilst I have sympathies for Honda, if I was the FIA, I would ensure that this process is as protracted as it can be and until we see the true performance comparisons between the engines then a decision can be made in the best interests of the sport. I just want to see close racing.

  58. I may be in dreamland but it almost seems like a conspiracy against Honda by Ferrari and Renault – they don’t want to have to fight another challenger…

    Will Alonso be already looking forward to a possible Merc seat in 2016? Unless Honda is given permission to update…

  59. I don’t think agreeing or disagreeing with a question will give you an answer/opinion of the question asked. Surely we can only agree/disagree with a statement!

  60. I don’t really see how this can be an issue of fairness at all to be honest. The situation for Honda is completely different from the situation for the other manufacturers, as they aren’t constrained by having to work from a homologated 2014 design.

    In 2014, the new engine rules were introduced. Effectively it works like this – in 2014 each engine manufacturer competing that season homologated an engine spec. That engine spec was compliant with a set of rules which are (tentatively) in place from 2014 until 2020. This initial homologation establishes a set baseline – the manufacturers aren’t allowed to change this baseline once it has been established. Each subsequent season, a set number of development points can be applied to this baseline (reducing each year) but every revision of this engine until after 2020 can trace its lineage back to the baseline which was established at the start of 2014. This means that a manufacturer which is developing its engine for 2014 is constrained, firstly by the homologated 2014 engine, and by the number of changes which can be made to it. These changes to the 2014 spec must all be applied at once – the 2015 homologation of the developed 2014 unit – at which point the engine is then frozen again until the following year’s allocation of development points. To simplify – each engine manufacturer can run just one spec at a time, and this spec can not be changed at all until the next homologation is finalised. This is an important point – once the initial baseline is established, the development is severely restricted, and it may be that issues with the initial homologated version of the engine will remain throughout its development lifecycle, no matter how many development points are allocated, because of these restrictions.

    Honda are operating under completely different circumstances. Honda did not compete in 2014 and so have no homologated 2014 engine to work from. Honda are claiming that this puts them at a disadvantage, when in reality it puts them in an advantageous position. With no 2014 homologation, there is no baseline against which they must work. They have been working on this engine at least since 2013, and have the advantage of having a reasonable understanding of how their rivals have approached the problem, and how successful they have been. While Renault, Mercedes, and Ferrari, are all restricted on the number of changes they can make to their 2014 engine, Honda have no such restriction. They are free to develop every single aspect of their powertrain right up until the point their 2015 spec is homologated.

    Where this creates a perception of unfairness, is in the fact that, with no 2014 spec to use, Honda must homologate their 2015 engine before the season starts, while their rivals are free to continue developing their 2015 engines until whatever time they choose to implement them. I can see why on the surface this appears to give an advantage to their rivals. However, consider that the engine Honda rolls out at the start of the season will have had at least one year of complete, unrestricted development above and beyond anything their rivals had before the start of 2014. Remember that the 2014 engine regs were not finalised until fairly late on, so a certain amount of the development done before the rules were finalised may have been of little value, whereas all of Honda’s development will have been knowingly within the regulations, ensuring that all of their development has been of high value. The 2014 spec engines by the current three were all based on a fairly short development cycle, of about a year, under uncertain circumstances – remember that some of the technology required for these engines to run, simply didn’t exist in 2013 – meaning that all of the homologated 2014 engines are using immature designs. That is to say, there was not a lot of time between the finalisation of the 2014 regs, and the homologation of the 2014 designs, meaning that even Mercedes’ engine is unlikely to be a highly optimised product. There is clearly plenty of scope within the rules to come up with a better solution if you have the benefit of starting with a clean sheet of paper – only Honda have that option. It would be unfeasible to think that the 2015 spec Honda engine would be inferior to any of the 2014 designs, because they have had so much more time and freedom to come up with it.

    So what I’m driving at is this – all of the current teams are having to work within the confines of a sub-optimal baseline established at the start of 2014. Honda on the other hand are free to come up with whatever solution they like, with the advantage of being able to try out most of the major innovations of their rivals, and have a good understanding of what the target should be for performance and reliability. If anything, for my money the situation is skewed in favour of Honda. If the other manufacturers defer introduction of their 2015 engines until later in the season, it’s likely they’ll all be at a disadvantage to Honda until at least this point, though possibly beyond as they are hampered by having to work from an established baseline which may limit the scope of any potential developments. The only reason it wouldn’t play into Honda’s hands would be if they fail to come up with a solution at least as good at the 2014 mercedes PU. If that is the case then any arguments over development points and homologation dates are fairly academic.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      12th January 2015, 14:34

      @mazdachris – good comment.

      These changes to the 2014 spec must all be applied at once

      This though I cannot find anywhere, and there are different opinions (see earlier comment).

      My view – agree/disagree – depends on how often others can homologate an engine in 2015.

      1. @coldfly difficult to say, but I’m taking it as read that the interpretation is to do with a combination of Appendix 4 of the Sporting Regs (section 2 – A manufacturer may homologate no more than one specification of power unit) and Appendix 4 of the technical regs, entitled Annual F1 Power Unit Homologation – the wording of the heading would seem to indicate the homologation is an annual thing, and I’m assuming that this forms the basis for the interpretation, along with the list of parts specifically noted for development for 2015.

        I agree that there is a degree of ambiguity as there is no explicit statement to say that only one spec can be homologated per calendar year or per season, and some of the sections of the articles seem to allow for a broad interpretation which would allow you to submit multiple changes, as long as only one homologated version exists at any given time. The only Section of the Appendices of either the technical or sporting regs which refers directly to an article with an explicitly defined time period, refers merely to the 2014-2020 timeframe for the current engine regs.

        There may be some other supporting documentation which clarifies this, which isn’t listed on the FIA site.

        However, the crucial thing to note is that all references to PUs modified for 2015 also mention the 2014 spec homologation as a base reference, which would mean that the Honda PU would automatically not fall under this categorisation which would allow for it to be modified, whether you believe the others can roll out upgrades progressively or not.

        In order for the Appendix covering development to apply to the Honda PU, the regulations would need rewording, which can only be done with the explicit authorisation of all competitors. Not very likely….

        1. ColdFly F1 (@)
          12th January 2015, 16:05

          @mazdachris, similar how I reviewed it.
          Still unclear though and the lawyers will have a field day.

          The rule ‘A manufacturer may homologate no more than one specification of power unit‘ can only refer to 1 specification at a time (thus all customer teams using the same engine).
          If anyone tries to read it as ‘one homologation only’ then it means that no further development is allowed at all for the whole homologation period – 2014-2020 (SR 28.5).

          You are right that the title of Appendix 4 (TR) is ‘ANNUAL F1 POWER UNIT HOMOLOGATION‘; being the only reference which could support 1 change per year.
          But if they try that then they have 2 problems (any lawyer will spot):
          1) Appx.4 1.b) (SR) does not refer to Appx.4 (TR) but to the table therein. And this table does not refer to ‘annual’, only to a quota of modifications per year.
          2) The table refers to ‘Quota of total weighted items allowed for modifications’. They chose the word modifications in plural; which allows more than one change.

          The conclusion remains the same: it’s a mess and many potential loopholes.

          1. @coldfly I think a more logical reading would be to say that the one homologated power unit, would be the one initially homologated to the 2014-2020 regulations. That would seem to be supported by the references to the time period. Then each year they are allowed to make a certain number of upgrades to the spec, based on the table in Article 4 (TR). So rather than continually homologating new versions of the engine, each year’s PU is the initial homologated baseline plus the cumulative spec changes allowed within Article 4 (TR). That makes sense to me, with the only requirement being firstly a defined date by which the year’s modifications should be submitted, and secondly some provision within the SRs on how to deal with new competitor entries. If you re-frame the development points slightly to mean developments on the previous year’s submitted PU spec, then naturally a competitor joining in any given year would not have a previous year’s PU spec upon which the updates can applied. For the sake of simplicity, I think the date of Feb 28 should be used as a deadline for submitting permitted development parts for the following season, and also for homologating the PU for any manufacturers entering the sport. That would seem the fairest, simplest, most unambiguous means of regulating power unit homologation and seasonal development.

            So, to summarize, I think the rules are ambiguous to a ridiculous degree, and could/should be easily clarified in such a way that all parties are satisfied. Secondly though, I don’t think there is any reading of the current regs which would either prevent existing manufacturers from starting the season with their 2014 spec and applying updates later in the season. Nor do I think there is any reading of the regs which would allow Honda to apply any developments to their PU once it has been homologated for the 2015 season. To fix either of these points would require changes to the regs. To do this for this season, that would mean unanimous consent – impossible. To do it for the future would mean doing it soon. Hopefully the FIA can sort this out for the future as it’s a bit of a mess at the minute. Just another reason for new manufacturers to decide to spend their money elsewhere.

          2. I have been following the engine development story on AMUS since the failed negotiations towards the end of last season on relaxing the freeze, as they always seem to have good information on technical matters.

            They seem to believe that it will be a staggered development, and that teams will start the season with 2014 engines that have an additional 27 tokens of development, then at a later date the other 5 tokens of development will be added in one upgrade step at which point they would then homologate the engine for 2015, either at the introduction of the 2nd PU, early in the European season, or the 3rd PU at mid-season. At least one manufacturer is unable to use more than 27 tokens before the start of the season due to the nature of the changes they are making, so would have “lost” 5 tokens (which cannot be carried over) if they had to homologate before the start of the season, not something that would help with closing up the field. I agree with @MazdaChris that Honda would have a huge advantage if they were given 32 tokens to introduce during the season when their rivals are only planning 5 tokens of in season development.

            The split turbo is a good example of how Honda is not constrained by the engine freeze in the same way as the others, Honda have had the time to evaluate and decide if they want to implement this idea, there are no restrictions on them doing so before their homologation deadline. Renault and Ferrari have had to decide whether to use some of their limited number of tokens to make this design change, but at the cost of other developments that they would like to introduce but for which there will not be enough tokens left and with the knowledge that if they don’t implement this change now it will be impossible to introduce the split turbo at a later date due to the engine freeze rules.

            Early last season Renault discovered a serious vibration in their engine, Ferrari that they had used a turbo that was too small, and both that they had used the wrong length exhausts, both manufacturers were stuck with these problems for the whole year and have only been able to correct them this winter by using up tokens. AMUS have said that all the manufacturers the FIA and FOM all have come to realize that the freeze rules were a mistake and have caused two traps, that for engine manufacturers who are behind it is very difficult and may even be impossible to catch up, and with each season that passes it becomes harder for a new manufacturer to enter, after Honda they feel there are unlikely to be any new manufacturers. The only reason that the FIA imposed the engine freeze rules was to control costs, they would have preferred a straight cap on the price manufactures could charge for their engines (leaving them free to spend what they liked on development but unable to pass on the cost to their customers) but felt that it would not have been legally enforceable.

  61. the 3 manufacturers (mercedes, renault, ferrari) are allowed to upgrade their engines in-season because they have a 2014 engine to use meanwhile but after using their upgraded engine, they cannot be allowed to upgrade again. If honda will also be included in this rule, what engine will they use at the start of the season?

  62. I definitely think Honda should be allowed to make modification in season the same as all other manufacturers.
    Re-entering F1 after the 2008 season was likely to have been a difficult decision. They have returned as an engine manufacturer and giving them an instant disadvantage is likely to leave a sour taste.
    The last thing F1 needs is less competition when it comes to engine manufacturers.

    With 2 fewer teams this season and several others struggling, F1 needs to entice new manufacturers and teams into the support. At the rate its going with ever increasing regulation, rapidly growing costs, and decreasing diversity in the cars it may as well just go the whole hog and become GP1.

    1. Sport*

  63. Alex Wilkinson
    12th January 2015, 13:23

    Keith Collantine: Is there phrasing in the rules that allows a different homologation date for Honda vs the other engine manufacturers? What has allowed the FIA to say “Feb 28th” instead of the same date as the other teams, or an implicit date of before the first race? My understanding was that they’d “invented” this ability to differentiate to have this “Honda has the same rules a year behind” approach, and thus the same logic could be applied to the token limit.

    Also, I’m very skeptical that the teams interpret the rules as only allowing 1 homologation during the year. This rule “clarification” was pushed by Ferrari and Renault. With the new clarification, the only viable alternate approach is a “wait and see”. JA says they may find 0.1-0.2s by race 5. Well if Mercedes take the top 4 spots in the first 4 races, then Ferrari or Red Bull will find it very hard to make that up. The date would have to be planned, so if Merc turn up day 1 with an improved engine and Ferrari finish 9th and 10th for 3 races, then they’re completely sunk.

    If they can stagger their upgrades over the year, then I can see that it may offer a small benefit to Ferrari and Renault.

  64. Honda made a decision at the end of 2008 to abruptly leave F1.
    Maybe they should have stuck around.

    1. Lol, they probably figured that one out too when Brawn GP became world champion with their car :)

      1. I doubt they would have been world Champions without the Mercedes Engine!

  65. If upgrading their engine produces a package capable of bumping wheels with the Mercs up front make it so. otherwise once again the fans get stiffed just like last year when Ferrari and Renault should have been allowed to make a fight of it.
    Wishful thinking I know but what we want to see is Team combat at the sharp end right ?
    And not just between teammates….

  66. NOT Fair!

  67. Given that Honda is already facing disadvantage in a maiden season with one less power unit than any of their rivals had last season, this seems less a slap in the face and more a punch in the nose.

    Hardly a way to thank a company who rode in on a white horse to save F1 from a withering manufacturer list, let alone give them the marketing windfall of a Japanese brand under the same roof as a famous F1 team.

    It’s not simply unfair; it’s agonisingly stupid. The FIA is almost incompetent enough to run a country, really.

    1. But @bforth what are you allowing for the benefits of learning from the others last year? They could see the best concept and all the mistakes to avoid, as well as the best suppliers, and respond with infinite tokens.

      And most of the pu’s made it through last season’s lifetimes, it’s not that hard with a low-revving V6

  68. The reason Honda will not be allowed to upgrade there engine is so that the other manufactures will only be allowed to do one upgrade. The reason i say this is as followed.( this is my understanding so it can be wrong). A manufacture has to have one homage engine. All the manufactures has one thats the 2014 engine Honda does not have one. If they allow Honda to do upgrades then you do not need one. So the conclusion i cam to is that
    as soon as you make an upgrade the 2014 engine is not an homages engine anymore and you need to homage a new one for the season. Witch means you are only allowed to make one upgrade. If they allow Honda to make an upgrade then you will need no homages engine and you can upgrade the engine till your 32 tokens are up. Sorry for my English

  69. No one can change engine only modify it, Honda is the only one with a new engine, they can modify it in 2016, if they are allowed to do it in 2015 they will have two different engine in a year.

  70. well.. for it to be fair Honda should have been allowed to run as many miles in testing as the other manufacturers did in racing in 2014.

  71. RIDICULOUSLY UNFAIR TO HONDA! Honda is ALREADY a year behind the other engine manufacturers, and now you’re going to penalize them further? Honda has worked in a vacuum until the new season starts. It’s fine, but not particularly helpful. Right now Honda is where all the other mfgrs were this time last year. It’s CRAZY to prevent Honda from doing what all the others are doing this year.


    1. what ‘vacuum’? I’m sure McLaren helped them out + they already tested the engine.

Comments are closed.