Teams still not agreed on engine rules changes

2016 Chinese Grand Prix

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F1 teams have not yet found common ground on changes to the sport’s engine rules, leading Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to warn that “nothing will change”.

At the end of last year the teams successfully resisted an attempt by FIA president Jean Todt and FOM chief Bernie Ecclestone to impose new engine regulations. However they are making little progress towards finding a solution of their own.

Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff said they are making progress on agreeing a fixed price for engine supply.

“There is an aspect of price reduction which is important to most of the teams and we tried to cover that in a framework agreement,” he said.

“Obviously it’s difficult to make everybody happy. Christian isn’t so happy. But I think we need to come up with a solution [by] the end of April. We need to ratify those regulations and at the moment, everyone is working hard to at least find the smallest common denominator.”

Horner, however, says the teams are lacking agreement in all areas.

“Fundamentally there was four criteria that were requested by the governing body to be met to ensure stability moving forward,” he said.

“Those four criteria were a significant reduction in cost to €12 million, the availability of supply or guarantee of supply, power convergence to within a relatively small bandwidth and to address the noise.”

“As we sit here now, we’re not anywhere near having met any of those criteria.”

Horner doubts a consensus will be reached before the end-of-April deadline.

“Unfortunately what will happen, as often is the case with these things, is time will run out at the end of the month and nothing will be achieved and nothing will change.”

“There is one more attempt in the Strategy [Group] meeting and [F1] Commission meeting at the end of this month to discuss and table the concerns and where we are. But failing that the regulations will inevitably stay as they are.”

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    Keith Collantine
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    43 comments on “Teams still not agreed on engine rules changes”

    1. This ongoing disagreement is giving Bernie a fantastic wedge to drive the teams apart again following their unity on qualifying rules….if they’re not careful they’ll be handing the power to him on a plate.

      1. I hear you but are the teams really that together, other than on an issue that virtually the whole world universally thought was ‘rubbish’?

    2. I hate the idea of convergence of performance on the engines in terms of it being forced. If they do this they have to do the same on the chassis. 12 million Euros seems fair nothing more needs to be done. Ferrari supply 3 teams that will continue same as Merc, the rest have to be satisfied with Renault or Honda, this should be forced on them, Red Bull don’t like Renault they should be able to have Honda.

      1. Everything in f1 is already “convergenced in performance” (spelling?). The tires, the chassis, the engines. The engines are no different except for the fact that the teams themselves have 0 control over the engine. Sauber, force india or red bull can’t just snap fingers and become engine manufacturers 2 seasons late and more than 3 years late into the development race. Forced convergence of performance is nothing but a great thing as it brings the cars closer in performance, allows more teams to win and makes the races better.

        Also it is the same exact reason why neither mercedes or honda (or mclaren specifically) don’t want to sell their engine to red bull. Competitiveness. Mclaren knows if red bull gets honda engine they will drive circles around the mclarens. Merc similarly fears red bull could challenge mercedes. Same with ferrari. Being afraid of red bull. In that sense being forced to use X engine is a bit wrong. If the engines were balanced there was no need to force anyone to do anything. But as long as merc and ferrari are leading the pack it also means merc and ferrari get to choose who has a chance to win and who doesn’t. Not only does this make red bull uncompetitive but so it does make mclaren uncompetitive as well. If the engine performance was forced to convergence it would also remove this rediculous politics we have going on where merc and ferrari are doing everything outside the sport to keep their competitive edge. At the moment F1 is two-tier sport. You have merc and ferrari in class 1. Then in class 3 you have the rest. Class 2 is the competitive teams who could occasionally challenge class 1.

        1. @socksolid

          Mercedes should in no way be penalised for designing a better engine than everyone else. That’s just not F1.

          They were encouraged to invest in a new PU, so they did. They may have thrown more at it than everyone else, but they haven’t done anything wrong or unfair. To choke their power output on the basis of them doing a better job than everyone else is just not right.

          I feel for Red Bull, but the PU manufacturers are just looking after their investment. Red Bull would do the same.

          Should Red Bull’s be forced to sell their chassis technology below cost? Should their chassis be equalised? Where does it end exactly?

          1. Luke Harrison
            15th April 2016, 22:38

            Red Bull *DO* do the same (look after their investment that is) the constant threats to quit F1 is just that.

          2. Everybody in f1 are constantly being penalized for being too good. Red bull had to adjust its aero many many times when it was winning. Now red bull is a mid field team and nobody really cares how much their wings flex. F1 has always been about innovation followed by rules to make it harder to gain too much benefot from innovation.

            Your comparison also doesn’t make sense. Teams need to build their own cars. There are rules which allow some parts to be sold and bought but most of it is designed by everyone individually. Power units are not like that. Mercedes, ferrari, renault and honda make engines. Everybody uses engines made by those 4 manufacturers. Engine is something a team buys and can’t do anything to them by themselves. Therefore their performance is completely out of their hands. Because it is such an outside component having it as equal as possible only makes f1 better.

            If you think mercedes has earned the right win all the upcoming championships in this turbo-era then that’s just wrong. Nobody has earned anything. Redbull won lots of championships in the years before the turbo engine. What have they earned? Nothing as well. You win by being fastest on the track. It is up to the fia to make sure the rules are helping the teams to be competitive. Not to prevent teams becoming competitive.

            There is also no slippery slope danger here. Things are already regulated based on competitiveness. The flex wings of red bull were the greatest example of it. Had red bull been running those wings when they were 4th or 7th nobody would have cared. But they were winning and as such that benefit was taken away. There is no end to this where everybody are suddenly forced to sell anything to everybody. The ruleset for the turbo engines have failed spectacularly and it just makes sense from every possible viewpoint to fix the issues. Fixing the issue makes the racing better, it makes the racing cheaper which helps mid field teams and fixing it allows f1 to move towards fixing the other big issues that are not being fixed because of the engines and ferrari/merc stalling.

            1. @socksolid

              I care how much their wings flex. Flexing wings are illegal, or at least, not in the spirit of the regulations.

              Red Bull were never penalised because their wings passed all of the mandatory FIA deflection tests, regardless of how much flexing was going on. Thems the rules.

              You’re insinuating that Mercedes’ engine advantage should be neutralised which is not the same thing as regulations being evolved to close loopholes or remove ambiguity.

              Anyway, Red Bull’s main advantage came from their blown diffuser. The regulations around this were tightened up (somewhat) because some teams were considering a long and drawn out protest after some races had already been run. If you felt ripped off at the qualifying fiasco earlier this season, imagine how rubbish such a protest would have been. Given the circumstances, I feel the refs went in the right direction. This rule was not clarified to peg neutralise Red Bull’s performance. It was clarified because the aggrieved teams may well have had a point…


              Anyway, if you want engine parity, wait a couple of seasons. I’m not saying the current situation isn’t a farce, but the solution isn’t reigning Mercedes PU back, or forcing them supply an engine to Red Bull. The issue is the lack of foresight shown when bringing these engines out in the first place. If Renault did a better job, we wouldn’t even be discussing this.

      2. All the teams have exactly the same fuel flow. Limiting fuel flow restricts all the engines to burning the same maximum amount of fuel in a race, and the same maximum rate of fuel flow during the race. In theory this would limit all the engines to having about the same amount of power output, which is what Chris Horner wants, maybe so he can try and get a competitive advantage using aerodynamic efficiency.
        If there are differences in power unit output then that is because of differences in the efficiency of the engine and hybrid system, because increased efficiency equates to increased power (and less efficiency = less power). Efficiency cost money, and the more efficiency you want the more expensive the power unit becomes.
        Reducing the price of an engine to €12M means reduced fuel efficiency and reduced research into fuel efficiency, and those that will be hurt the most by this are those that are running the weakest power units on the grid, and, as we currently see with the Token system, those that benefit the most from these sort of rules are those that already run the best power units on the grid.
        The best way for a team using a weaker power unit to catch up to those with a better power unit is to pay more for research, and whether that is spent on the power unit or the aerodynamics, they won’t catch up unless they do pay, so they would need to allocate part of their annual budget to research. This poses the question of does the team expect engine research to be included inside the €12M or not.
        The upside of reduced engine research is it increases the “shelf life” of components, because it would take longer for the components to become obsolete. The problem, though, is efficiencies discovered during the life of the current engine will take longer to get to the team, meaning they could be running a less efficient engine than their competitors.
        My suspicion is those running the weaker power units will have higher maintenance costs compared to those running the stronger units, and if they exceed the current allocation of engines, then that would push them outside the €12M envelop.
        In regards to increasing the volume of the car exhaust, I think this would come at the price of slightly reduced engine efficiency, which means slightly reduced power.

    3. Price reduction with the current hybrid technology amounts to little more than wishful thinking. If cost is in fact the bone of contention, a step back to upgraded GP2-style tech is probably the most viable option.

    4. I’m not surprised nothing can be agreed. The elaborate, political quagmire of deals and relationships means no one actually has enough power to effect any decision making or agreement.

      You have Mercedes with Williams and Manor on their side, who though keen to see more affordable power units aren’t really motivated for their to be any change that could affect performance advantage.

      Ferrari with Sauber and Haas on their side, again probably keen to see more affordable options which Ferrari will put the kibosh on while being keen to have a more exotic, exciting engine.

      Honda/McLaren who I get the impression are very happy with the concepts and hybrid system but would just like development opening up and no dramatic changes to the rules wasting what resources they’ve already ploughed in.

      Renault with no one in their corner.

      And then Red Bull, Torro Rosso and Force India who want an affordable, available, simple, equivalent performance engine that no one wants to give them.

      1. Eh… didn’t force India vote against bringing in a cost cap? There is only 2 teams unhappy and that’s redbull & torro rosso

        1. They may have had to toe the line with Mercedes in regards to a forced cost cap on current engines, but they are still in support of a more affordable, equivalent performance power unit option.

    5. Maurizio, nice haircut, man)))

    6. Legally, there’s nothing Bernie and Jean can do until 2020. The various contracts in place see to that. However, if I were a manufacturer, I’d be taking this a whole lot more seriously than they seem to be.

      They seem to have forgotten that it’s an FIA World Championship, and as such they are the regulator’s, and as the regulator, the rules will ultimately be whatever you decide them to be.

      Bernie and Jean have made themselves quite clear, they want back control of Formula 1. Come 2020, they WILL have it, which therefore means they can implement any engine architecture they like. From their “expression of interest” document, we can see that that is likely to be a 2.2L V6 twin-turbo.

      So the manufacturers have 3 choices;

      1.) See out the current contracts as they are now, and then have an engine imposed upon them.
      2.) Do the exact same as above, but instead quit.
      3.) Sit down at the table now and negotiate with Bernie and Jean as to a set of engine rules which preserves as much of their current technology as possible moving forward long-term.

      My personal feeling is we’ll end up V6 sequential-twin-turbo’s with KERS and fuel rules.

      Time will tell.

      1. Or they will continue as is as it is all the teams v Red Bull teams and Force India. Force India may not be in business by 2020 or under new owners, the Red Bull teams can just leave as their contracts are up and they are not as important as any one of Ferrari/ Mercedes/ Honda/ Renault. These engines are coming into there own now in terms of performance and next year no restrictions so who knows what power and efficiency they will get by 2020. As long as costs are capped on customer engines that is all that is needed nothing else, F1 costs otherwise we will all enter teams with cars made of recycled scaffolding and 25cc lawnmower engines in the interest of costs.

        1. They won’t continue as they are. Too many important people in too powerful a position with too much riding on it want them changed, so they will change.

          As Frank Williams once said, “F1 is a sport for 2hrs on a Sunday afternoon, the rest of the time it’s a business.”

          I know fans like to argue the sporting side of this debate, but because these power units are so expensive, and will only continue being expensive by virtue of development, a lot of very wealthy people will continue to be very unhappy, and their business voices count for a lot more than the fans sporting voices. Sorry.

          1. Who are these people that want it changed? I get the impression Merc, Ferrari, Honda and Renault would want to keep them and spread the startup costs over a longer period of time? Those parties are rich, powerful and influential or do all manufacturers other than Merc also want to change? Of the major players Bernie and Red Bull want these changed but Bernie maybe dead in a few years and Red Bull are not as powerful as the other parties I have mentioned.

            1. Pretty much everybody who isn’t manufacturing the things.

              What fans have to appreciate is this technology has already cost a lot of money, and it’s going to keep costing a lot of money to keep on developing.

              There’s plenty of scope to really push these power units in ALL areas, and ultimately, that turns the whole thing into an arms race.

              Merc were prepared to spend the most straight off the bat, so they get the rewards. Ferrari have spent to catch up. Honda and Renault have now realised how much they have to spend.

              The whole thing isn’s sustainable, especially in the context of the MGU-H, where if we look across to Audi, they’ve determined that the component doesn’t even really translate to road cars anyway!

            2. @thef1engineer so they’ll bin almost all the money invested in the PUs?
              Seems like an avoidable waste of money to me.

            3. @x303
              That is just sunk cost fallacy.

            4. Lot’s of noise over nothing because Red Bull and Bernie ain’t getting what they want while ignoring the big elephant in the room called aero.
              Up and down the object about engines costing 20mil instead of 12 and you talk about silly engine arm races while we ignore that they spend 200-50mil for aero. And this in MOTORsport.

              I think investing arm race money in the motor in MOTORsport that has major contripution to the tech in the real world as well is ten times more logical that spending it in useless wiglets no one benefits from other that some aerodynamist like Newy getting a hard on.
              And you still get nowhere near on what is wasted on aero tunnels and useless wiglets.

      2. As markp says, maybe Bernie will have full control by 2020, but he has to be alive and well by then to use it. For an 85 person the chances to see 2020 are about 55%, so its basically a coin toss.

        See what the brilliant management of Bernie made me do, actually go and calculate the odds of F1 improving.

        1. FOM will still be in control and it’s more than likely Bernie will appoint someone “Bernie-esque.”

          So whether it’s Bernie or not is actually irrelevant. The point is the manufacturers WON’T be in control.

        2. @x303

          No of course not.

          What you guys have to remember is that these power units are R&D projects, experiments, and as such, much of this tech will end up in your road cars in the future.

          So far from being a waste of money, you’ll actually be the one paying for it.

          I’ll give you an example. Old conversation I had with a mechanic friend of mine from Audi, fairly high up. An Audi R8, costs, what? £60, 70, 80k? Guess how much it costs to build? £5-6k. The rest of what you pay, excluding any taxes according to where you live, is the R&D.

          Mercedes, Honda, Renault etc don’t become some of the biggest road car manufacturers in the world by “wasting money.” There is no such thing.

          1. @thef1engineer
            OK, I see. I thought that dropping the PUs after just a few years would be a shame. Because there is much more to gain with proper development and it would add bad publicity to this technology.
            As long as we don’t go back to an old tech as Bernie is suggesting. That would be terrible…

            1. N/A’s have had their day.

              All I think will happen is that the MGU on the turbo is swapped out for a smaller turbo as part of a sequential-twin-turbo set-up. This thing has A LOT of issues with it (which I’d be happy to detail if you’re interested), and as I’ve said before, this particular component isn’t that efficient in road cars anyway, so it’s no real loss. We tried something, it didn’t work, it’s no big deal. This kind of thing goes on all the time in R&D. It’s not a waste because we’ve learned something.

              The small capacity? That stays.
              The V6? That stays.
              The large turbo? That stays.
              The KERS (MGU-K) whatever you want to call it? That stays too.

              The only item that changes is the MGU-H electric motor for a smaller, more conventional turbo. We’ll have to do a bit of re-plumbing, but it’ll be cheaper, simpler, lighter and most cost-efficient all-round.

              It’s the only way I can see of keeping everybody happy, because the facts technologically speaking are proven, and it ticks all of the FIA’s and FOM’s boxes :).

      3. “My personal feeling is we’ll end up V6 sequential-twin-turbo’s with KERS and fuel rules.”

        And that would be the nail in the coffin for me watching. F1 should be pushing technology forward. Seeing such a huge step backwards would remove the last vestige of my interest in the sport. Heck, there will be more advanced road cars in the near future than a twin turbo with basic KERS.

        Added to which, by 2020 the engines will have pretty much equalised in terms of performance and, unless they screw up the aero regulations like they seem to be planning, the racing should be much closer and more exciting. The cost of the power units would have naturally reduced, too. It would be madness to go back to stone age technology at that point!

        1. Get your hammer ready then.

          Battery technology is too heavy and will not be lightweight enough in time to appease FOM, the FIA, the drivers etc.

          There’s also nothing wrong with sequential-twin-turbo’s. They’re more efficient than an MGU-H, and they’re cheaper, simpler, lighter, and everything else to go with it.

          Please don’t assume that just because something is “new,” that it’s “better.”

          1. @thef1engineer

            “Battery technology is too heavy and will not be lightweight enough in time to appease FOM, the FIA, the drivers etc.”

            Battery tech is heavy, granted. However, the batteries would still be needed with KERS, which decreases the effectiveness of KERS.

            “There’s also nothing wrong with sequential-twin-turbo’s. They’re more efficient than an MGU-H”

            I’d like to see figures to back that up. Turbos without HGU-H are only effective when supplying meaningful boost. At any other time they are not capturing any energy from the exhaust. With an MGU-H, energy is captured at all times (at least, fuel is being burned). The only way it can be more efficient is if either the weight of the MGU outweighs the energy captured (not the battery as that’s a separate issue, MGU-H could be used with a smaller battery, or even without the battery, feeding energy directly to or taking from the MGU-K), or the MGU introduces enough friction to the proceedings to cancel out any gains. I can’t see either being the case.

            “Please don’t assume that just because something is “new,” that it’s “better.””

            I don’t. And I know that technology has to be fit for purpose. However, it is my belief that the current power units are more than fit for purpose, and are technological marvels which should get a lot more praise than they do.

        2. You’ll stop watching f1 if the cars become lighter and less expensive just because the cars became little less technologically advanced? I’d rather go back to stone ages and have engines with big power, big sound, lighter, more balanced and no electronic trickery than these technological marvels of modern computing that are designed from ground up to be boring.

          1. @socksolid

            Unfortunately, a lot of fans seem to have forgotten the golden reason as to why motorsport even exists in the first place.


            Even Frank Williams said, “Formula 1 is a sport for 2hrs on a Sunday afternoon, the rest of the time it’s a business.”

            People can stand on the most purest of sporting principles in the world, but if those principles don’t add up on the balance sheet, they count for nothing.

            Yes, this technology is great, but the boards of Renault, Honda and Ferrari aren’t going to keep signing off £500,000,000 + budgets to develop a power unit a) just to keep pace with Mercedes, and b) where Audi has very recently proven that a significant component of it (the MGU-H) isn’t efficient in road cars anyway!

          2. @socksolid These engines aren’t boring. Maybe the racing is (I don’t think so), that’s more to do with the aero and the tyres.
            The 2010 procession of Bahrain used the V8 to great effect.

          3. @socksolid
            “You’ll stop watching f1 if the cars become lighter and less expensive just because the cars became little less technologically advanced?”

            No, I would stop watching because the engines would have become a LOT less technologically advanced, and F1 would have taken a huge step backwards. F1 is as much about the technology as the racing, and the technology is a big part of what lends credence to it being the pinnacle of motorsport.

            1. So it is more important to have the latest gizmos on the car than it is for the technologies to make sense technically to be in the car? I think racing cars should have technology in them which makes the faster and not have technology that makes them slower. What is the point being excited about the hybrid engines knowing that they make the cars just slower and less exciting and if the teams were given choise they would switch to the v8s instantly because those engines simply offer better performance? What is exciting about paying more and getting less just for the sake of having it?

              And more importantly the current engines makes the racing worse because it increases the gap between the slowest and fastest. The more the engines cost the less the teams can afford to put into developing the chassis.

              I don’t think f1 is about the technology. It is about building your own cars and then going around the world to race those cars. The cars should be exciting and scary to watch. Not this make-believe green tech combined with the “excitement” about low fuel consumption and sheer complexity.

            2. “So it is more important to have the latest gizmos on the car than it is for the technologies to make sense technically to be in the car? I think racing cars should have technology in them which makes the faster and not have technology that makes them slower.”

              So, you believe that a 1.6l V6 turbo WITHOUT the hybrid systems would be faster than they are with it?

              The technology in the cars is making them faster than they would be without. Comparing these engines with the V8s makes no sense: We could have V8s with this technology and they would still be faster than without.

      4. 2020, Bernie will be 90, 2.2l twin turbo will be as old as 2.4l V8 are old now.

        I would not be suprised if electric power goes from 160bhp to 300bhp. Or simply unlimited regen. And base 1.6l turbos will be so converged in performance there will be no problem.

        Sensible rule should be… Championship winning engine must be made avaliable next year for anyone to use at say 12M price.

        But at the same time my wet dream is having in a race a team with better chassis running same laptime as a team with better engine.. This can only happen after long time of performance convergance.

        2020 will be about year when 2017 rules will converge teams ..

        1. It’s just an engine spec :S.

          As I’ve said above, the success of hybrid relies on the weight of the batteries and they’re simply just too heavy atm, and they’ll still be too heavy 4 years from now.

    7. Is it just me, or am I the only one that found the driver’s press conference excruciatingly painful? It’s clear the drivers have no interest in being there and have nothing to say. It’s clear the reporters don’t know what to ask as they know that whatever they ask is not going to receive a thoughtful honest answer. It’s a meaningless charade and both sides know it and treat it as such. I find the team principal press conferences infinitely more interesting.

    8. I think the engine people are stalling as long as they can. They are very worried about Red Bull with a powerful engine.
      No doubt a Red Bull with a 2016 Mercedes engine will be very competitive.

    9. The teams very rarely agree on anything! So now that you have 11 different views to the same issue should surprise no one. 2 factory teams(Ferrari & Mercedes-Benz/AMG) want to keep everything as it. Honda and Renault might be consider a change in engine regulations. And Bernie and Jean want their powers back. Like others before me has stated, there’s very little anyone can do under the present Concorde Agreement expires in 2020. We have a stalemate unless the E.U. steps in with a decision.

    10. My opinion about these PUs in F1 in 2016:
      Advantages: 1, Very effective (in performance, consumption and energy recovery) 2, powerful and big torque 3, big area for development
      Disadvantages: 1, expensive 2, more weight 3, less noise (partly because of the fuel flow limit and ERS) 4, big differences in performance (especially in long term performance) in manufacturers and (maybe) customers.
      I think we don’t need the token system in order to decrease the differences as fast as possible. (I think it has less chance that differences will grow without token system especially in long term.) In long term we need stable engine (and technical) rules to decrease differences cars in lap time and decrease cost. I think we don’t need the fuel flow limit in order to teams can create more tactics (in defense and attack). I think we have to increase the fuel/race limit or eliminate it in order to see less fuel saving (or maybe bring back refueling).
      In 2004 we couldn’t see much overtakes because of the huge turbulent air (and aero rules) and the big differences between cars and not because of the durable tyres (and refueling).

    11. I hope what they are trying to do is to find is the BIGGEST common denominator. Otherwise we won’t see much progress here XDDD

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