Honda logo, Mclaren, Bahrain International Circuit, 2017

Honda could get help from rule change

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In the round-up: F1 will discussed whether its rules could be tweaked to help Honda catch up to its rivals.

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Has the tide finally turned regarding DRS following the news it isn’t going to be made more powerful for future races?

The one thing I hate more than DRS is changing the rules mid-season when they don’t have to. I appreciate if it’s a health and safety issue that they have to to react to it but this isn’t the case here.

If they don’t like current DRS, they have a great opportunity to change it for 2018. GP3 is currently testing limited DRS uses per race. GP2 is currently testing overpowered, boring DRS. F1 is currently testing unlimited but much less effective DRS.

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  • 68 comments on “Honda could get help from rule change”

    1. LOL that McDonald… is Danica or any other driver in the IndyCar field a world champion who beated Michael Schumacher and his Ferrari? was Danica going so far off his confort zone that’s it’s almost laughable? is Danica regarded as one of the very best in the sport?

      No, no and no. And none of the IndyCar drivers have the following that Alonso has, that’s a fact. The 500 will get a boost in interest (which is what it needs) and that’ll show how good ( the series is, which will have huge implications for the rest of the races if done right.

      1. No kidding. Last week McDonald had a column where he claimed that nobody was talking about F1 now that Liberty is in charge until Bernie came back and with 3 quotes in Bahrain single handedly returned media focus to the sport.

      2. That comment he wrote about IndyCar becoming the feeder series for F1 is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. He clearly does not know what he is talking about.

        1. He used the word ‘Maybe’

          And as for not knowing what he’s talking about, he sounded quite sane, knowledgable and reasonable to me.

        2. mfreire, it’s evidently a theme that he’s taken a liking to, since he has also produced articles speculating about a potential takeover of IndyCar by Liberty Media – even going as far as suggesting that a full merger could be undertaken between the two series.

          1. I’ve certainly not always agreed with Norris McDonald, and this is an article I find very little to agree with, or better put everything he says here I either disagree with or thought ‘so what’.

            In general I think Indycar needs all the promotion it can get. And since this is a one-off, with anything beyond that being pure speculation, I say why not. What’s the harm? Detracting from the other races? Really? Just because of FA? The 500 is, as he and many people put it, the biggest race in the world, yet FA is the one lessening all the other Indy races? They don’t already make the 500 a huge spectical?

            Feeder series for F1? Highly doubt it. But if that were to somehow happen, wouldn’t that be a massive boost for Indycar? Maybe NM’s point is it would be a grid of ‘kids’ and rookies? That’s the only thing I can think of that might diminish Indycar if that is what NM is worried about, but in fact I think nobody would watch in North America if it was just a grid of young F1 wannabes. Europe already has that covered in a part of the world where people care and follow and watch these youngsters closely and where they are near F1. So I highly doubt F1’s up and comers are coming from Indycar any time soon.

            It’s like somehow NM thinks something is being taken away from Indycar, like it is sacred and must be protected from big bad Liberty. I just don’t buy any of it. Like he’s just throwing drama out there based on a shadow of a concept. Not for the first time though. This is somewhat typical Norris McDonald.

      3. The answer is:
        1) no.
        2) no.
        3) no.


    2. Mr. McDonald seems a bit angry about Alonso and all the attention he is getting. But, I don’t believe it. It gave him the opportunity to name-drop Danica Patrick about a half dozen times. He got to mention Alonso about a half dozen times as well. That’s giving him a lot of attention while complaining he is getting too much attention. Then McDonald writes that after Indy where “He’s not only there to steal their glory, he’s there to steal their money.” (“their” referring to the other IndyCar drivers). Then “…he’ll be back jet-setting it around the Continent.” This sounds more like jealousy, or something.

      Then there is this little tidbit of *journalism* – “Alonso, though, finally acknowledged that his real reason for doing Indy this year is because the McLaren-Honda he’s driving in Formula One is a pig and why go to Monaco with no hope of winning when he could go to Indianapolis and maybe have a chance.” LOL! I was listening and I don’t remember Alonso saying that exactly.

      I still think The Alonso Indy good for all parties and maybe all the attention over it really is proving that out.

      1. I think any journalist who compares Danica Patrick’s impact to a race/series to Alonso’s impact to a race isn’t a journalist at all. Maybe old McDonald needs to be spending time at a farm instead of writing on motorsport.

        1. @todfod I think you’re taking a very European attitude to it there. I can totally see that in the domestic US market, Danica is likely to be a far bigger draw. She’s a well known name, likely better known that Alonso. She is a massive name in the States – NASCAR has a huge following, far bigger than F1, she has a good media presence and huge sponsorship backing. And that’s without the obvious draw of her being a very talented female racer.

          And just think for a moment what it would be like if you didn’t know F1 that well.

          So who is this guy, Fernando Alonso? Is he the champion?
          No he’s not the champion…
          But he has won, right?
          A long time ago. Over ten years ago in fact.
          Ah ok, so he’s a bit washed up?
          No no, he’s still one of the best!
          So where does he finish these days, does he get on the podium?
          No.. actually this yeah he hasn’t finished a race. But, uh, at one point it looked like he might have finished tenth before the car blew up!

          To anyone who doesn’t understand F1, it’s incredibly hard to see why Alonso should be any kind of a big deal. In fact, I can see why some people would feel downright hostile about the idea of a washed-up has-been who hasn’t had a sniff of a championship in nearly a decade, coming over and thinking he’s going to win the bue ridand event on his first go, when he hasn’t even driven on an oval before.

          And what if he does win, what does that show? That seasoned veterans who have hundreds of IndyCar races under their belt can be beaten by a rookie. Apparently they can’t even go in a straight line and turn left properly, so some European can just show up and beat them without breaking a sweat. Hardly what you’d call positive publicity.

          1. @mazdachris

            While I don’t doubt that Danica Patrick os incredibly popular in the US, I feel her hype in joining Nascar was more the fact that she was a female driver. Fernando Alonso is a double world champion Formula 1 driver who is widely regarded as one of the best drivers in the world currently. I can understand the hype surrounding Danica joining as a huge publicity stunt, but it’s a completely different ball game having Alonso race in Indy 500. It’s honestly like comparing apples with oranges.

            If Mr.McDonald cannot make the differentiation in the two, then he’s a joke of a journalist.

    3. McDonald actually spelt IndyCar’s CEO, Mark Miles, name wrong.

      1. It would be sad to see them go down this route. Sauber might be at the bak of the pack, but they’re still not that far off midfield. Points is a possibility for them on many race weekends. If they go with Honda, they’ll probably be very close to 107% mark and be racing themselves after getting lapped half a dozen times in a race weekend.

        It’s the era of the pay engine I guess… so maybe it could be useful for Sauber’s financial situation in the near future.

        1. They’re not far off the midfield at the moment, but with their year old Ferrari engines, I’m pretty sure they’re gonna be dead last this year. They’re going to slip down the order in the same way Torro Rosso did last year, only they aren’t as well placed at the beginning of the season as Torro Rosso were last year. The complete freedom of engine development is only going to exasperate the issue.

          Unless they get up to date engines, they don’t really have much to lose working with Honda.

        2. The Honda power unit will improve through the season, while a non-current season engine doesn’t get updates, the engine you have at the start of the season is the same engine 20 races later. In that time your competitors will have had regularly updated engines.
          We don’t know what influence the Token System and Ron Dennis had on the ability of Honda to improve their power unit through the last two seasons.

          1. The Honda power unit will improve through the season


            I would disagree completely with that statement. People have been saying that since 2015, and every time I said that they would make lesser progress than their rivals, only to be proved right every time. Although people state performance convergence in to consideration, they completely forget the level of knowledge, expertise and skill set at Honda is not up to Formula 1 standards… and if the same token rules apply for all engine manufacturers, they will only tend to fall further behind every season.

            1. They made strong progress throughout 2016– and threw it all away for 2017.

            2. In 2016, their engine wasn’t as unreliable and they got slightly better with deployment… they still trailed by the same margin or a larger margin on all other fronts. Hardly strong progress.

        3. @todfod – I’m hoping the engineers at Sauber know something we don’t. If one of the midfield teams signed up with Honda, that would be a good indication of insider knowledge. With Sauber it may just be a lack of choice – weighing up the benefits of a current engine against a static, year-old known quantity, as mentioned by @drycrust.

        4. If they go with Honda, they’ll probably be very close to 107% mark and be racing themselves after getting lapped half a dozen times in a race weekend

          You would say that only if you truly believe that Mclaren is the best chassis and Sauber is the worst chassis. Now, Sauber might be the worst (although that is debatable given what Pascal did in his first race back), but Mclaren is surely nowhere near the best. There is no evidence to prove that it is the best (or it is not the best).

          I am happy that Honda gets a second team to collect more data and it will also validate’s Mclaren’s best chassis claims.

          1. I still think it is a fairly safe bet that the engine Ferrari finish this season with will be considerably better than the one Honda starts next season with! Silly Sauber.

          2. Actually, being around 5.5 seconds off the pace (assuming an average lap this season will be 85 seconds) would be 107%. Considering that Sauber are already 3 seconds off the pace, it’s not entirely illogical to see them drop a further 2 seconds back with Honda in the back. That would make them awfully close to the 107% mark.

            I don’t see how this has anything to do with McLaren’s chassis. There’s a high probability that the difference between Mclaren’s chassis and the Ferrari/Merc is under 0.5s, and the rest of the 1.7 to 2 seconds gap comes from the Honda PU.

    4. Obviously McDonald is trying to fill a gap in the market for contrarian Alonso-to-Indy takes, but even as a huge Alonso I found the coverage around the story a bit excessive on Sunday. IndyCar was putting on a great show on one of the best circuits on it’s calendar yet the commentators spent a significant part of the race interviewing Alonso. There were some interesting bits in the interview, and I don’t blame IndyCar for trying to make the most of the Alonso story, but given how many people would have been watching IndyCar for the first time on Sunday it would have been nice if they’d concentrated on the race itself and how exciting it was. They could have kept the Alonso/Indy hype to the pre-show.

      1. I doubt so many new people were watching and that they were distracted from following the race. If you don’t blame them for taking advantage of trying to make the most out of the Alonso story, then don’t.

        I think Indycar is in need of as much promotion as they can get as they aren’t that far removed from being unsustainable, having had viewership struggles for a long time now. They would very much like to grow more and be stronger and an indication of that might be the amount of time they gave FA during the race. If he’s interested then viewers should be too…that sort of thing.

    5. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
      25th April 2017, 3:32

      Honda should not have the rules tweaked to let them improve. I don’t care how historical they are. Manor went broke because they were in the same room and played the same rules made for and by the big guys. Did any of the current teams, or Liberty, give them a loan to survive? No. You can even say Liberty was still not in charge. But a company that big could have easily arranged a deal with dying Manor, as a bonafide token. Why should different criteria be used now to save McLaren? It’s not that they don’t have the money. Relax the rule of maximum number of teams per engine provider and let Honda leave. Haas is better prepared than McLaren – Honda. So it’s not a problem of the rules. It’s logistics, and Honda have just shown (and keep showing) how bad they are to get their act together. And of course McLaren is guilty as well.

      1. @omarr-pepper – agreed, nice comment. I don’t mind tweaking the rules to help the little guy (like Manor from your example, or teams with a budget less than x million). But it shouldn’t apply to big marquees like McLaren or Honda. That’s just rewarding incompetence, and demeans the ground-breaking work that Mercedes did with their powertrain, and impressive work that Ferrari seem to have just done with their 2017 powertrain.

        1. @phylyp It’s not really rewarding incompetence, but more of trying to enable them to be less horrible. It’s not as if they are incompetent, and are being rewarded with an extra 100 bhp as a result, or a 5 place grid upgrade.

      2. Why help Honda? Because F1 is not a sport… It is a show, designed to captivate audiance.

        There is nothin entertaining about Honda at 11th place in the race, light years from P1.

        Honda is a stark warning to any new engine maker. “You come here, we will let you take on negative publicity for years, and make cost saving rules that disable your ability to improve.”

        In short, their incompetance is hurting the sport. If car companies would be cared for by the rules maybe we would have a decent Sauber with VW, RedBull with AstonMartin, Williams maybe with BMW… Whoever, money would come in and teams would get relevant.

        Meanwhile we are stuck with two competizive teams and everyone else.

        1. @jureo speak for yourself mate. Watching mclaren Is terribly entertaining atm imo. It’s like a Running gag that gets funnier everytime. They can’t possibly again- oh wait yes they can!

      3. @omarr-pepper Couldn’t agree more. Allowing a billion dollar company to avoid penalties because of its incompetence seems wrong. The only call I would eventually make would be to scrape the 4 engines rule altogether and for everyone.

        And this despite having my two favourite drivers in McLarens.

    6. I’m not sure less focus on reliability should be the focus of Honda at all right now….

      1. I don’t see how reducing the penalties applied to them for components changes makes any difference. This is their 3rd entire season being used as an extended test session.. and they are developing the engine regardless of where they start the race. What Honda needs is a lot of help from Mercedes and Ferrari, which I think they should not be obliged to provide. Heck, if you’re not good enough to compete, then kindly leave.

        Looks like Honda have their begging bowl out… so much for self respect.

        1. Fukobayashi (@)
          25th April 2017, 10:02

          @todfod harsh but fair.

      2. @jeffreyj – Agreed. The lack of reliability is the main problem. Lack of power is the symptom when they have to turn down the wick just to make the engine last long enough to complete a race weekend, or even any session in the race weekend.

    7. Neil (@neilosjames)
      25th April 2017, 8:15

      “or, as has been suggested, this is all the beginning of an eventual merger between F1 and IndyCar.”

      What, because both series use four-wheeled cars, have engines and pay a single visit to Canada every year?

      Because that pretty much covers the similarities between the two… be a bit like merging the NFL and the Premier League. I mean, they both use balls, play on grass and have 11 players who jump on each other like graceless ballerinas every time someone makes the scoreboard change, so why not?

      1. How about a merger that, like most american sports, has two championships and the best teams get to play off for the ultimate glory. So Indy conference and F1 conference race their seasons more or less as normal (maybe double header at Indianapolis) and best 5 drivers from each conference compete over 4 race finals (2 indy spec, 2 F1 spec) to be crowned world champion. Perhaps throw in a couple of swaps during the season so drivers get to try the other conferences cars.

    8. Went to McDonald’s today.
      But the guy I spoke to had no clue about F1 or Indy ;)

    9. “Rules breaks to help Honda set to be discussed (Autosport)”

      This relies on the same group of teams who wouldn’t even pass a vote for Schumacher test with a current-spec car in 2009 after Massa’s injury (Williams vetoed it, IIRC).

      I can tell you now there’s no way in hell that all teams will vote in favor of this, and I would put my house down on it that Williams would be one.

      Not that I’m judging – I fully understand both sides from this coin, because basically it would mean that McLaren could run full power every race if they suddenly find a fix for all their issues (I don’t believe forthcoming MGU-H updates will completely turn their season around yet), and maybe outscore Williams, Force India etc., who knows.

      It’s unlikely to happen, though, but other teams can’t afford to take the risk.

      1. Problem is that if Honda and possibly McLaren, say sayonara and see ya later respectively, F1 would have an 18 car grid and three engine suppliers.

        Add to that the likely hood of replacing Honda and or McLaren are virually nil, F1 has to be pragmatic to encourage both to stay (does F1 still have a contract with circuit promoters to have at least a 20 car grid?).

        Add to that Saubers financial position and a 16 car F1 grid looks potentially very likely.

        Hence I see Honda being encouraged to keep skin in the game, Sauber with possible updated Honda engines next year and a revived McLaren to keep the grid full.

        1. Fukobayashi (@)
          25th April 2017, 10:12

          What @ho3n3r is saying is that there is absolutely no way in hell this will get unanimous approval. Why would teams like Torro Rosso, FI, Williams and eve Renault allow a competitor to leapfrog them. Even pushing it through for 2018 which only requires majority instead of unanimous approval would be highly unlikely.

          1. @Fukobayashi Exactly. Whether it’s right or wrong is irrelevant, because the destiny of this vote is in the hands of people who would never approve of it.

            F1 teams have voted solely in their own interest for decades, and rightly so, as it’s hard enough (and increasingly so) to keep your own head above water.

            I can see Merc, Ferrari and maybe Red Bull approving this, but they’re direct competition to everyone else, especially the day the Honda engine gains some parity to at least Renault.

        2. @Gerrit Yes… and? That’s of no interest to the other teams, and they’re the ones voting on it. And if you put yourself in their shoes, you can absolutely see the reasoning to veto it if they do.

          1. Interesting times. The other teams may well vote against it from a self interest perspective, however the problem remains that without Honda and or McLaren and possibly Sauber, there may well be no F1 show.

            Teams need to look at the overall picture. A picture that is not rosy and if Red Bull have another one or two mediocre seasons could be without them as well in 2020.

            Can F1 survive?

      2. The only way it will happen is if all manufacturers get the same rule break… Effectively getting rid of the PU limit for the season…

    10. what’s the ‘boring, overpowered’ DRS that GP2 (F2) are testing this season?

      1. The DRS F2/GP2 have been using the last couple of seasons has made it possible for a car that at the start of the straight is 0.6-0.7 behind be about 0.3-0.4 seconds ahead at the end of the straight before braking.

        1. ah ok. Maybe they need to reduce the angle which the rear wing flap can open to.
          It’s all circuit dependent really isn’t it… this DRS thingy…
          Like I’d extend the DRS zone at Barcelona but decrease it at Malaysia.
          Silverstone DRS works perfectly I think.

          1. Just get rid of DRS and have a less complex and narrower front wing.

    11. If the rules are changed to allow Honda to catch up (thinking that they have sort of already, via removing the tokens system), then I will lose a lot of respect for the sport/show.

      The careful lobbying of McLaren and Honda is really paying off, if it wasn’t Alonso, Honda and McLaren they wouldn’t have even got this far of a discussion.

      The smaller teams have been desperate for cash for a number of years, probably 5-10, Honda have 3 bad seasons and it’s all change on the rules.

      Doesn’t sit well with me at least.

      1. What option does F1 have? Reduced the grid even further?

        1. Well, they did let that happen to Manor @Gerrit, so where’s the objective difference? That Honda,McLaren have lots of resources so should be able to get it right somehow? Eh, yeah.

      2. Fukobayashi (@)
        25th April 2017, 10:33

        Nothing else will get changed and the token system benefits all teams as it promotes engine parity. As mentioned earlier for Honda to get any further benefit will provide all the midfield teams being in agreement to effectively help promote McLaren above them which will NEVER happen.

      3. I think I can see why you’d lose respect for the ‘sport’, but if it’s a ‘show’, then it’s to be totally expected…

    12. I’m not sure an consideration should be given at all to “helping” Honda. Certainly none should be given until they actually start t help themselves, something that they’ve shown very little progress on.

      Take for example their start of season – “vibration” causing failures once the PU was fitted to the car and run on track. What this suggests is that they can’t even run a dyno program to take into account track conditions.

      Supposedly among the best engineering minds in the world and they can’t even set up a proper test programme so they end up with countless “faults” that only appear when they hit the track. They’re either incompetent or lying about their dyno tests.

      The worst part about the whole sorry saga of Honda is that no other engine manufacturer will even dare enter F1 because there appears to be no upside to doing so. They just look at Honda and go “why would we want to be subjected to that sort of ridicule”

      Maybe instead of helping Honda catch up, F1 should help them leave and help another manufacturer enter.

      1. As you mentioned, no engine manufacturer will want to enter this current formula. I agree about the FIA showing Honda the door though… they’re really not adding any value to the sport and are tarnishing the legacy of a legendary team and driver.

      2. Forgive my lack of knowledge here, but if that engine reaches some weird resonance over a kerb or something, how is that predictable using a dyno? I’m genuinely curious as to how that can be predicted.

        1. The vibration problem isn’t occurring because of the kerbs… it just occurs at high rpms, which is something that could be tested on the dyno.

    13. F1 is the premier open wheel racing series, and one fundamental philosophy that has stood the test of time is F1 doesn’t have a handicap system. Actually it does, it has a positive handicap system where those that win find it easier to win, those that have been in F1 a long time find it easier to win, and those with a big budget behind them find it easier to win; while those that aren’t winning, haven’t been in F1 very long, or don’t have an enthusiastic corporate financing them will find it harder to win. I know that isn’t fair to most fans, but that is how F1 works.
      So when Honda haven’t been able to develop their engine over the last two years so it would be much more competitive than it is, McLaren-Honda should know they won’t be rewarded for it.
      I don’t know if there is a need for an extra allocation of engines for McLaren-Honda, if their engines need to be replace then what is the actual penalty they face? If say they are placed 17th and 18th after Qualifying, and then they incur two 5 place penalties, doesn’t that mean they were demoted to places 19 and 20? I don’t think this is a problem with an easy solution.

    14. Changing the rules to help the worst engine because F1 has always been about the lowest common denominator.

      They won’t help themselves so now everyone else has to drop back to make them feel better?

      Why not give 25 points to everyone on the grid just for taking part?

      “Here’s a medal for coming last Johnny, well done.”
      “Oh great, does that mean I never have to try in life?”
      “Yes, it does Johnny.”
      Years later Johnny coworkers were to hang him from a tree after a long night’s drinking.

    15. F1 should not change rules mid season no matter who it benefits. Last year we had the farcical qualifying then the insane ban on radio traffic. The liquid punishments for favoured drivers by the stewards. All together made F1 look stupid and rigged. Just like the WWE but not nearly as much fun. But let the bosses do what ever they want. It is their turkey after all.

      1. Double points anyone?

    16. I like and agree with a lot McDonald has to say. I think it will look bad on Indy Car if Alonso wins the race, for exactly the reasons McDonald lists.
      I hope Alonso puts up a good show and finishes in the top 10

      1. Will it look any worse than when a rookie won it on his first try last year? Do people now think Indy is that easy?

    17. SFI really is a phenomenal team.

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