No fifth power unit for drivers in 2015

2015 F1 season

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Formula One drivers will only be allowed to use four power units during the 2015 season, a reduction from the five permitted last year.

The rules for this year specified a decrease from five power units to four but noted “this number will be increased to five if the number of events in the championship, as originally scheduled, exceeds 20”.

A calendar approved by the FIA in 2015 featured 21 rounds after an extra race was added in South Korea. The event was then removed from a calendar issued by the FIA earlier this month.

This was suspected by some to have been done in order to satisfy the rule which would allow teams to use five power units this season.

However an FIA representative confirmed to F1 Fanatic that as the calendar is now fully confirmed as having 20 events, driver will only be permitted to use four power units during the season.

As last year, drivers will receive grid penalties if they use more than the permitted number of power unit penalties. However a change to the rules for this year means if those penalties cannot be applied in full they will not carry over to the next race, and the driver will receive a race penalty instead.

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

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49 comments on “No fifth power unit for drivers in 2015”

  1. If rule says “this number will be increased to five if the number of events in the championship, as originally scheduled, exceeds 20″ i’m surprised teams are not pushing more to get one extra unit especially bearing in mind that “…as originally scheduled…”
    Originally 21 races were on the calendar….

    1. maarten.f1 (@)
      19th January 2015, 10:52

      @rf4p Korea was never scheduled on the final version of the calendar. So the 20 races we have are the ones that are originally scheduled.

      1. @rf4p @maarten-f1 I would take “originally scheduled” to mean what was on the first calendar for 2015 which was approved by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council. That was in September, and it did not include a race in South Korea:

        FIA confirms 20-race F1 calendar for 2015

        1. Yeah, you guys are right. My mistake

        2. Unless it means originally scheduled on the final calendar (like Bahrain was in 2011). Don’t forget that they could argue that Korea was always provisional, and so it was arguably not scheduled for definite.

  2. If people consider that Honda is now at an advantage for being able to develop their PU during their first year in the current turbo Era as compared to other manufacturers that were not able to develop their units during their first year- last year, I consider that allowing the use of only 4 PUs during this season will put mainly Honda at a disadvantage. This is because Honda, although may have been able to have an extra year of free development last year in addition to being able to develop their PU this year also, they still do not have the advantage of dealing with various unexpected reliability issues that could happen any time any where during a gp. Last year, Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault had the chance to learn how to deal with such reliability problems as the year progressed, and even Mercedes who had the best PU last year still suffered reliability issues with their PU, even during their first gp when they started with a brand new PU. So, I think that the three manufacturers other than Honda will still be able to to focus on performance development of their PU while Honda might get stuck focusing on solving reliability issues. I am not saying that this will actually happen, but I am still expecting to see Honda facing more reliability issues as compared to the other manufacturers.

    1. I agree. Yes Honda have had an extra year to play around with their design, and look at what everyone else has done, but they don’t have the experience of running the engine an the actual race car. Look at what happened to Red Bull in early 2014; their packaging was so tight that the engine kept overheating. Honda could have the same problems with their engine once it’s fully packaged in the McLaren chassis.

    2. It looks like really that Honda have traded an engine for a extra year of restriction free development. We will wait and see which is more valuable, however I 100% agree that Honda should not be allowed to both develop their engine in season and have an extra engine, as that would give them an unfair advantage.

    3. Nice avatar

      1. Thanks :P
        yours too

  3. Good thing :)

  4. I love the F1 is going at this moment. The number of engines and the rest of the rules. I know a lot of ppl do not like the new rules but it is bring us closer to the days of old. Drivers have a roll to play know. Drivers have to find the balance between how hard to push just as it was in the old days.
    Yes in the old day the engine blow up in the race now if you push the engine to hard it will cost you at the end of the season. I believe that they should make it even harder for the engineers to develop a car to push the boundary and give us back the unpredictability of old

    1. I’m not sure, I still think I’d prefer seeing a driver being able to push the machinery as hard as possible or as hard that is needed at any given time, Instead of lets turn this engine down to save it. These types of rules are obviously about cost control and not about making racing exciting, I’m also not sure that the penalties given to drivers are fair, I mean if your engine explodes in a race, isn’t that punishment enough than having massive penalties added for a new one if you go over the allowance. I mean who would want a championship decided on how often you car stops or doesn’t. Having said that, when a fast car is put to the back of the grid, it is fun to watch them coming through the field, Thinking Hamilton a few times last season, So there are positives but there as plenty of negatives as well.

      Maybe it’s time to look at moving penalties onto the team and the constructors championship when certain things go wrong. Not sure how it would work or how well, but just a thought.

      1. But see that is what makes it interesting. Witch manufactures desided too look at how to save more fuel and witch did not. Because this is a new formula you can save time by looking to improve your fuel consumption.
        I still believe that they should take points of from the team for every penalty that a driver or the team makes. You will see a lot less penalys by the teams.

        1. Oh I agree on fuel consumption, but that is more of a driver trick they can play, As Hamilton did in China, which Rosberg quickly learned from, but saying right you need to back off now because we need to save this engine so we don’t get a penalty isn’t something I would want to see every race to be honest.

        2. Technology and the materials used now are far more advanced and efficent than they were in the 1980’s and even into the early 2000’s- all F1 cars from 1988 (the last year of the 1st turbo era) and previous had fully manual gearboxes, clutch and gearstick in all. In those days, a missed gear-change (even with the electronic rev limiters) is what usually caused an engine to break a value spring and have a value get punched right out of the side of the block- which is effectively a wrecked engine that has “blown up”.

          1. People do not relics that in most of F1 history the cars never went full out.
            Sena running out of fuel and a few driver saying they had to drive slower and look after there tyres. The drivers how could do it was the ones that was great.In the old days the driver had no control over when and way his engine went. Today they do even if it is with the help of the engineers and if the you have to use more then four engines this season that means your engine department will have a lot more work for next season. IT all comes down to how build the best engine. Hows engine can run longer at max power with the limited fuel, hows engine is the most reliable. That is what i want to see in F1. Every body having to do a great job for the team to excel
            and a lot of verence so teams can go in there own direction.

      2. In my opinion, the need to plan your race and save the hardware is much more exciting. Car X can go hell for leather at the start of the race but then need to back off, whereas Car Y, which started conservative, can switch to an agressive strategy and attack in the closing stages.

        F1 was much worse during the days of grenading engines and no cost-saving because they were basically throwing engines away every race, meaning reliability was less of a concern.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      19th January 2015, 15:54

      @koosoos – In theory, you are right but in practice, you aren’t. The drivers will not pick how hard to push. The engineers will choose that and the result will be cars not going at full speed to protect their cars.

  5. ColdFly F1 (@)
    19th January 2015, 11:34

    I actually agree with this; the rules were originally intended like this.

    But the best (or most worrying) part is that the FIA is so stupid that it even fails when it deliberately tries to create a loophole (adding Korea). Haha.

    1. Adding Korea was all about Bernie not being sued, nothing about the FIA creating a loophole.

      1. I think you’re fooling yourself if you think you know what it was about. Any agreement Bernie had with Korea would have been in place months before the first calendar “confirmed” by the WMSC, absent Korea, in September. Nothing about this that’s in the public domain makes one jot of sense, and I’m not expecting all to become clear any time soon.

        1. there was probably a contract in place to have the race and whoever canceled it had to pay so if FOM didn’t put it on the calendar they would be responsible for canceling the race and owe money, but if they put it on the calendar, they forced the Koreans to cancel it, FOM can walk away clean. Everyone knew the race wasn’t going to happen, just a matter of who was at fault.

    2. @coldfly The calendar is built by FOM and then presented to the FIA for ratification. If Korea ended up on the calendar, it was because Bernie’s people put it there, either because of ongoing contract negotiations (which is looking unlikely, given Korea’s public ‘shrug’ about why it was on the list) or skullduggery.

      The FIA were pretty clear cut about saying ‘if you put that race there just to bypass our rules, nope!’…

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        19th January 2015, 19:51

        @optimaximal, thanks for clarifying.
        Sometimes I find it difficult to determine who, in today’s F1 management, is making the biggest fool of himself.

  6. It seems that Honda is in deep, deep shtook.

  7. That engine looks like a wolf looking through a telescope

    1. Or a wolf blowing a horn.

    2. A wolf with a Mohawk :)

    3. Hopefully this will be from the ‘As Good As It Looks’ range :)

  8. Anyone got a good article discussing how these new hybrid turbo engines have helped road car engine technology. Has the tech transferred over yet? or will that come a few years down the line.

    1. Mercedes claims they have already used the technology on the S-Class road car.

    2. The AMG version of the A class has a ridiculous amount of power for a small 4 cylinder engine in a road car, ( of the top of my head 2L. 350 hp although 450 hp keeps popping into my mind, maybe there is a “black” version).

    3. @sato113 think it’s a little early to expect F1 to have changed motoring by changing its PU, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the next gen Honda Type R’s using some form of ERS system, possibly the AMG Mercs and even the Renault Sports then if it proves to work I’d expect it to filter out over the next few years.

  9. I think that also makes the logistics very difficult to introduce any engine upgrade. Ferrari, Renault and Honda can probably do it, but Mercedes with 3 customers will have headaches to roll-out any upgrade if there are reliability issues during the first couple of GPs.

    1. Interesting point @tmf42, tho I suppose Merc also have more money coming in, and they benefit more from having to make fewer engines. They must be geared up to make 20 of everything, now they only need to run off 16.

      I imagine they’ll also have to fit in token-using upgrades with the 4-unit-per-season rule.

      Anyway surely they’ve redesigned their ERS electronics for this season.

    2. @tmf42 I doubt it’s any more of a problem than it ever has been… Mercedes HPE turn up at the track with all the customer PUs in tow and just deliver them to garages, along with support staff.

      I believe the engine mounts are standardised (if not across the series, then across engine manufacturer) and any change of physical dimensions will be communicated in advance to make sure the package fits the chassis and bodywork…

      1. @optimaximal I was talking about the restriction that you can only use 1 PU spec at the same time for all customers.

        Suppose all Merc teams use 1 engine during the first 5 races, but Lotus has a failure in race 4 for the component they wanna upgrade from race 6 onwards. They would have to forfeit the millage on the 2nd used component because with the new roll-out they have to go for the 3rd one. with fewer customers this becomes a lesser problem.

        1. @tmf42 I don’t believe it works like this – the teams never ‘lose’ parts. Every part of each engine is catalogued and life-cycle checked by the FIA but if a specific component is upgraded, the parts are simply swapped out – if reliability is improved on (for example) the turbo charger, all 4 units will be upgraded, meaning a team can run an older, high mileage unit for testing etc.

          Also, the need to supply identical kit to each customer team is a mix of guidelines, common sense and a gentlemans agreement – It’s clear any ‘reliability’ fixes are going to be delivered to the works teams first and we had a case late last year where Mercedes only delivered improved MGU units to Force India and Williams because they blatantly didn’t want information getting to Honda via McLaren.

          1. @optimaximal I’m not so sure if that won’t be a problem. Because if they bring a planned upgrade thru the token system they have to homologate the whole thing. eg.: if Lotus uses 2 MGU-Ks for whatever reason and the others only use one Lotus wouldn’t be allowed to use the old ones once the new one is homologated – I think the FIA was pretty clear that that’s the only way they can use the loophole.

          2. @tmf42 yes, that’s true. The 4 units per year applies from the end of testing through to the end of the season.

            If a team uses up parts before this ambiguous homologation deadline, that’s just tough luck, as it was for the Renault-powered cars who suffered issues in 2014 before the manufacturer improved their reliability…

  10. petebaldwin (@)
    19th January 2015, 15:57

    Easy to miss however:

    a change to the rules for this year means if those penalties cannot be applied in full they will not carry over to the next race, and the driver will receive a race penalty instead.

    Very happy with that. I can’t remember who it affected last year but it turned what is already an unfair penalty on the driver in an absolutely ridiculous one.

    1. Just give grid penalty but my engine can run 2 seconds faster.

  11. I do not think that this is the right solution for cost reduction..

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      19th January 2015, 20:07

      @dam00r, why not?

      The PU is the most expensive component in an F1 car. That’s why Ferrari is the biggest trade creditor of Marussia, and similarly Renault of Caterham.

  12. Clear as Mud…it has gotten to the point that the rules have become so ambiguous that they are making them up as they go along…

    How will this work for Marussia and Caterham…if they show up? Totally lost…lol

  13. I think Honda will have a lot of problems…

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