Three-engine rule helps Mercedes and Ferrari stay ahead – Honda

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Honda’s Yusuke Hasegawa says rules limiting teams to a maximum of three power units throughout the 2018 F1 season will help keep Mercedes and Ferrari ahead.

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A persuasive explanation for why there were fewer penalties for driving incidents in 2017 from Neil:

I’m inclined to believe there were fewer penalties because the new regulations made it harder for the cars to follow each other.

Penalties are often given out for failed or overly aggressive overtaking moves, but look at how much overtaking fell in 2017 (49.8%, according to Pirelli). You can’t make a mistake while overtaking if you can’t get close enough to even attempt a pass.

Close racing = incidents = penalties. Take away the closeness and the other two will fall.
Neil (@Neilosjames)

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Keith Collantine
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76 comments on “Three-engine rule helps Mercedes and Ferrari stay ahead – Honda”

  1. Over the past 3 years Honda has introduced more new engines than any of the other teams in 4 years!
    Maybe the others should complain ;)

    1. @Egonovi +1.

  2. With the three power unit rule, I think even Mercedes powered teams may fall victim to a grid penalty at some point in the season, it’ll just be about being tactical in its timing. The Mercedes unit may be the best of the field and give Mercedes the comfort of turning down for some races, but if they’re pushed hard by Ferrari and Red Bull as looks likely then they won’t be able to coast it home every race.

    Renault is obviously going to be more severely hit than Mercedes and Ferrari, but they’re a cleverly run team, they’ll have their best power units at the circuits they have the best results available at.

    I don’t see how it really impacts Honda significantly, they’ll just be onto grid penalties one race earlier than usual. I doubt they’ve suddenly come up with a power unit that would have been ok lasting 5 races without going bang.

  3. I think what we’ll see is a lot more “engine saving” which in turn is going to mean that there’ll be very little serious racing on the track.

    Getting close to the car in front causes strain on the engine, therefore drivers will be forced to back off and leave it to the strategists to try and work out a passing solution via pit stops.

    In essence after the first lap or so we’ll probably see mostly processions with no one really trying to chase down and overtake the car in front.

    Not really feeling confident for this year’s season even though we have probably one of the best groups of driver talent in years.

    1. @dbradock

      To be honest, I feel this rule will negatively impact F1 in 2018 more than the Halo or any other rule. There was just no need to reduce it to 3, when 3 out of the 4 engine manufacturers faced a penalty because of exceeding the components during the season.

      This will only get worse next year. There will be races where drivers aren’t allowed to push their car, and there will be races where the starting grid is entirely different from the quality grid due to engine penalties. It’s just absolutely unnecessary to change this limit for 2018. Considering the fact the Renault and Honda are still struggling with getting to grips with this new engine formula, it just seems like an absolutely unnecessary rule change that will only widen the gap between the Mercs/Ferraris and midfield teams further.

      1. I disagree. The Halo will be, by far, the rule that most will affect F1 in 2018, and it’s going to ruin the sport irreversibly. It looks so ugly, I’m sure there will be no overtakes and the drivers will drive very very slowly and not even try to win races anymore.

        1. I rather have ugly cars racing each other closely from start to finish than beautiful cars driving around in circles saving engines.

          1. My sarcasm seems to have been lost.

        2. hopefully the giant thong will serve as motivation for some
          FIA will have to think of another solutions when women get into the sport

          Note: the previous comment was based on the idea that everybody is straight in order to make joke, please no offended people.

          Note 2: If you get offended either way, please complain to the site admnistration

          Note 3: Note 2 was just a joke, we are on the internet, doesn’t matter if you are offended

          1. @johnmilk I am extremely offended by your repetitive usage of Notes.
            Note: Sarcasm.

          2. @godoff1 please see Note 2, if offendiness remains, repeat

      2. @todfod I agree with you, the Halo we will get used to (and it’s not even AS ugly as the thumb noses of 2014)

        But the coasting and car saving I cannot live with and have cancelled my sky sports subscription accordingly.

      3. They should have 10 engines if required but limit the specs to 3. Cannot change in consecutive races unless prove a reliability issue to the FIA. No grid penalties if proven reliability issue. Little teams like Mclaren, Williams, Sauber etc should only pay the price of 5 engines as the big teams supply these less technically capable teams who need a little extra help, they get info from these lesser teams running their engines so this would compensate the extra 5 engines. All engines should also be 1000 plus v12,s as now electric cars are coming on strong for road cars oil will last many times longer than current projections so might as well use it for entertainment.

    2. @dbradock On the other hand, I don’t think it will really be a big stretch for the teams to try to make their pu’s slightly more reliable, and it will be the same for everyone, so I think that the racing will still be ‘serious’. Not too sure about your claim that getting close to other cars causes strain on the engine. Don’t really hear that being talked about, and besides, the teams will have adapted with sturdier components where needed. And we’ve already got processions due to the dirty air effect, but beyond that I highly doubt we will see ‘no one really trying to chase down and overtake the car in front.’

      I think we will see that teams will adapt, and the racing will be no less than we just had this season, which, while too processional for most, did still have some positives too, with Mercedes actually challenged a bit here and there, at least in the first half anyway. No matter the new regs, which are pretty minimal in their difference to last year, we all hope, and I think even expect after last season, to see Ferrari and RBR even closer to Mercedes, mainly due to the relatively large degree of rules stability from last year to this.

      @todfod I think there is a chance that the 3 engine rule change might help the lesser makers in that it may force Mercedes and Ferrari to crank it down a notch if they’ve already been pushing the limits. But anyway I don’t think we’ll really notice this change, as it will be the same for all the teams, and the drivers will all still be going for it on Sunday, notwithstanding the usual amount of conservation that we have been witnessing over the last 4 seasons.

      1. Can’t agree I’m afraid.

        Manufacturers will certainly be strengthening some parts, but you can bet that they will also be determining all of the tolerance limits down to what % of time the PU can be run at or near 100%, 90%, 80% etc. it’ll be a lot cheaper for them to force a reduction of power usage than to engineer the PU’s to be bullet proof, or as bullet proof as it needs to be.

        Merc have already said that they could use just 1 PU if they reduce the output which to me is a pretty big hint that they expect a lot of the “reliability” to come from engine management and not from engineering.

        Practice sessions will be a complete farce as well with teams, particularly the top ones electing to only do extremely limited laps to reduce mileage.

        1. @dbradock Perhaps. I just don’t get the impression that this is a big stretch from what they have already been doing, nor that this is anything they weren’t aware of happening well in advance. There just hasn’t seemed much outcry from the teams other than from the article above.

          Don’t get me wrong I’m no fan of all this conservation so I don’t mean to defend it, but I just can’t get alarmed about it either. It’s the route they agreed to go, and perhaps is still spillover from the plan upon introduction of these pu’s under BE’s watch, and Liberty and Brawn have to wisely work their way away from this without throwing the teams too much at once, raising costs and harming the less resourced teams. It feels to me like everything is on the table for discussion right now amongst the teams and Brawn and his team. If this 3 engine concept is the wrong thing to do…a step too far…they can always alter it.

  4. If it was Renault complaining about the engine limits it’d be somewhat acceptable, but not from Honda. They have been introducing new parts every 2/3 races for last few years, at the cost of McLaren’s reputation.

    1. I’m not Japanese, so maybe I missing the point here, or maybe what Honda are trying to get accoss is been lost in translation. Engineers on here may help those of who are not. I would have thought when producing any product, certainly one involving heat, fuel and moving parts, reliability is the most important component you design for. Lean and effecieny comes later when you have the basic concept worked out and you start to chase performance. If that is the basic concept in power unit manufacturing, Honda are best to keep quiet, as they have the failed miserably in the at the most rudimentary lesson in the design manufacturing, and deploying these V6 hybrid units

      1. bonbonjai – I think it depends on application.

        Adrian Newey has famously echoed the old adage that he’d rather have a fast and unreliable car, as it is easier to make a fast car reliable, than a reliable car fast. I’m sure he was speaking in general terms, and not in the context of factors outside his control (e.g. Renault’s PU).

        Maybe that’s an accepted approach to F1, where reliability is not a life-or-death issue, and where competitive advantage is the key driver. If they were designing rocket engines for manned applications, then the priorities would be different.

    2. at the cost of McLaren’s reputation.

      well Mclaren was part of the choices they had to make, like the zero size engine with all it’s troubles.
      Introducing a new concept without real world testing under the pressure of MClaren was stupid.

      1. I think some trying to blame McLaren’s size zero concept for Honda’s problem is missing the point entirely as far as I am concerned. McLaren came up with the concept, but, did Honda engineers not look at what that concept would need to work as their reputations would be on the line other wise.

  5. I have to agree with Honda here. The 3 engine rules definitely favour the Merc/Ferrari engine a whole lot more. The engine rules should actually be formed to favour Honda’s biggest strength – Unreliability .

    For 2019, I’d suggest the FIA form the rules to actually give Honda a fighting chance –
    1) Total number of components for an entire season should be – 1 component per session for 20 races -> 100 engines over the course of a season.
    2) Max. Fuel consumption -> 200kgs an hour
    3) Max. straight line speed -> 120mph or 190kmh
    4) Max. thermal efficiency of MGU-H -> 20%

    1. That’s not generous enough.

    2. Or maybe Honda are too confident or is arrogan, in assuming how easy designing these power units would be. Indeed, they have admitted that. They should be honest, and admit they just got the basic design of these power units completely wrong from the start they have been playing catch-up ever since. The regulation are not to blame for that. Honda are.

      1. I think you’re right, Honda did underestimate the difficulty of producing an engine suitable for F1. However, Ferrari and Renault were caught napping as well. They too have been struggling to catch up to Mercedes. Ferrari have had to use Mahle technology in their engine, and Renault, and probably Honda as well, have had to incorporate Illmor technology into their engines. Even last season no one had really caught up to Mercedes. It didn’t help that the FIA mandated the Token System from 2014 through to 2016 to discourage engine development just when every engine manufacturer was wanting to develop their engine.

        1. Stephen Crowsen
          The very moment engine development should have been ramped up, to close the performance differences between the power units in f1, is when the token system was in play. Unfortunate.

    3. Until you bring in mandatory engine swaps alongside tire changes during a race, I wouldn’t call that ‘normalization’ ;-) @todfod


      1. @phylyp you got that mixed up a bit mate- the mandatory engine change during pitstop has actually nothing to do with Honda but it is meant to level the playing field towards Formula E. Common Misconception!

    4. Mercs yes, but Ferraris are going to be in trouble in 2018.

    5. Do you think that’s enough? not sure they will win even with that lol

  6. #BerieveInMclaren

    1. Aronso was reportedry heard singing: I’m so ronery, so ronery, so ronery and sad rear arone…

  7. Upon reading the article from the F1 Racing website, I came across this “Honda’s outgoing head of F1 project, Yusuke Hasegawa, …”. This was the first I’d heard Yusuke was being replaced.
    I hope his replacement is accustomed to the expectations and demands of an F1 team.

    1. It doesn’t matter, they don’t open their team up. Honda’s F1 program is basically a bunch of Honda engineers messing around by themselves without help from absolutely anyone, while everyone is trying to go “but what if you did it like this” and their engineers going “no! We don’t want to hear this! We have a bet with the janitor that we can win the WCC with an engine built exclusively by Japanese people!”


      1. @rahnarlsmenves, except that Hasegawa did confirm that Honda were working with external consultants – although they did not confirm it, it was widely believed that they were working with Ilmor last year – and, in his parting statement, indicated that Honda were looking at increasing the amount of assistance that they sought from external consultants.

        1. Yes, they are working with Mario Illien of Ilmor, who was placed there by Redbull after Renault turned down his ideas and it became clear that Redbull would be using the Honda engine in 2019.

  8. I think the engine reduction is getting to WEC endurance levels and Mario Illien had it right. The big teams will spend as much money on having to get 3 engines bullet proof as they will on building 5-6 engines. We are far better off than the days were the big teams used 20+ engines a season in each car but there needs to be a sensible limit be cause when crashes happen a whole car has to be thrown away and sometimes as we saw in Singapore this year innocent drivers get collected (which is a penalty in itself) and then the next race they have component changes to replace the damaged part and they are penalised again. I hate to think how much money Mercedes and Ferrari are spending right now on dyno testing to find the components that need to be beefed up to survive the required 7 races.

  9. Honda can introduce as many engines as it wants. Just like they did the last few seasons. Only costs them some grid penalties. Didn’t do them any good though. Bit baffled how they (still) think introducing “new” engines in large numbers is going to fix their problem anyway.

    Perhaps they should try to actually design a good engine instead of hoping to luck into a good one by introducing new engines.

    1. The days of F1 using 3 engines a weekend were the golden years, with some great racing action and none of the driver aids… As I have said before Endurance is for the WEC championship, F1 is for pushing the envelope and getting as much out of the car as possible.

      1. @maddme, I wonder what time frame you think that is, because that period of time when multiple engines would be used per race weekend was fairly short lived – for quite a long time, engines had to last for a fairly long time because they were too expensive to throw away as a disposable commodity.

        The larger teams could afford to throw away that many engines per race weekend, but it wasn’t a sustainable practise for the smaller teams on the grid – don’t forget that a sizeable chunk of the grid went bankrupt in the 1990’s and early 2000’s (which I presume is the era you’re referring to), so it was fairly damaging for the long term health of the sport.

        It’s also debatable whether the drivers really were without “driver aids” at the time either – for example, when the FIA legalised traction control in 2001, it was because they believed that the entire grid had effectively been using traction control for years (even though it was supposedly banned).

  10. petebaldwin (@)
    4th January 2018, 9:25

    Some funny quotes in the articles today!

    “With three engines, it means we only have two chances to introduce a new engine. We need to introduce a good engine at the start, but if we don’t we only have two chances to introduce a new engine.”

    That’s not strictly true is it? :D

    “It’s easy to turn down a power unit and find reliability – we don’t want that, that’s not going to win us championships.”

    Again, that’s not strictly true is it? Doing so has already won you championships! Or perhaps you didn’t “turn yours down” but others had to “turn theirs up” past a point where they could run reliability in order to be competitive.

    1. @petebaldwin Mercedes playing their usual game of: we are not that good, there is no margin for error in this sport, the competition is right behind us, we need to push forward, its a development race, Sauber can still catch us, bla bla bla

      1. I’m sure there’s some sarcasm going on here, but anyway, the implication here is that, like Honda, if the only way you can finish races is to turn down the pu, that is not going to win Championships. Mercedes was able to turn things down upon leading races comfortably, based on whatever competition was being offered them on a given Sunday, but if they had to turn them down from the start of the weekend just to finish…well…you know the rest.

        As to ‘we are not that good’ no they’ve never said that…’there is no margin for error in this sport’ that’s true…’the competition is right behind us’ not always but pretty often though…’we need to push forward’ as does every team always…’it’s a development race’ as it is always…’Sauber can still catch us’ lol.

        Anyway, I’m sure some of that has been tongue in cheek by you two, but it was refreshing to see Mercedes at least a little bit challenged last year. But had Nico not retired I think here would have been less opportunity available for SV and Max and DR than there was and perhaps TW wouldn’t have been able to say a few of the things he did last season.

  11. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    4th January 2018, 9:34

    Some of the things Villeneuve has been saying this year seem rather unreasonable. For Bottas’s first season in the team against a multiple world champion with 4 over years with the team, he has no doubt had a good season. He performed well instantly which often isn’t the case. His form may have dropped mid season, but picked up towards the end in the last 3 races. I do not believe this is because of Hamilton winning the championship.

    Implying that Wherlein probably would have done a better job is very questionable. He has been basically level with Ericsson pace wise. He does have less incidents than Ericsson, but I don’t think he is even close to Bottas’s level. But that could change in time. But Wehrlein vs Ericsson in qualifying shows how close they were. And Ericsson isn’t a good driver.

    Bottas has been a fair way behind Hamilton, but has done a better job than him in about a 3rd of the races this year which is decent for his first season. He has also managed to get closer to Hamilton in the championship than Rosberg did in 2014 and 2015. It did take some luck as was slightly better off than Hamilton, but managing to get over 300 points when Mercedes hasn’t been dominant all season is a very good achievement. He’s also been pretty consistent as in never qualifying or finishing lower than 6th. Hamilton has qualified lower than this twice due to his own mistake as well as being at fault for finishing lower than 6th in one race.

    Villeneuve has just been too harsh on Bottas and Stroll this season from his wording.

    1. @thegianthogweed I think he’s being a lot harsher on Bottas than Stroll here.

      1. I think it’s fair to have concerns about Stroll even if he performs at a mediocre, midfield level. It is simply not helpful for the sport’s image to have a teenage driver with a seat because his Dad gives the team $35 million per season. If Stroll was a Senna or a Lauda it would be different; he’s not.

      2. Well at least JV called VB a ‘solid’ number two. I think JV is only being slightly harsh here, because on the one side I do appreciate that this was VB’s first season in a new team, in a competitive car and he was up against no less than engrained LH, but in the other side when I hear Wolff say that if he is to compete the gloves will have to come off, I just can’t see the gloves coming off with VB. Can’t see him passing LH or keeping LH behind. Anyway as we all know he’s got another season to show us more.

    2. And Ericsson isn’t a good driver

      @thegianthogweed he shouldn’t be in F1, am I right?

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        4th January 2018, 13:19


        I should have said he isn’t a good driver compared to most on the grid. There has to be some down near the bottom. I don’t think he’s that good, but I personally think he has what it takes to deserve to be in F1.

        1. @thegianthogweed I can’t see who if I’m honest

          Hartley and Gasly are unknown quantities.
          Maybe Stroll, but he was in his rookie season, he might still impress us, like he did in quali in Monza.

          Either way I agree with you he isn’t a good driver

    3. This bit struck me as particularly ironic:

      >>”Even Massa was faster than Lance,” says the 1997 world champion and the last man to deliver a title to Williams.

      Especially given the fact that “even Massa” was faster than Jacques when they were teammates at Sauber in 2005.

      1. Faster than JV? Hmmm…15 years younger Massa 11 points, JV 9 that year, with one more retirement than FM. Obviously a stellar and competitive car that worked very well, that was not a limiting factor for either driver. Last year’s Williams was no less limiting for the drivers but Massa’s tenure on the team and his experience should have seen him with more vs Stroll, but that said, this was not a car that likes to play up in the points, just like the Saubers of 2005. Ask FA how it is when the car just isn’t there for you to do anything.

    4. @thegianthogweed There are people in F1 who are worth listening to and others with an agenda. Villeneuve may be one of the latter, in my opinion he’s not one of the former.

      Bottas seems to get a lot of unjustifiable criticism, maybe because he seems quite critical of himself. Self-criticism can be a very positive force and I hope he does well again this coming season.

    5. I can’t comprehend why journalists are so eager to capture Villeneuve’s frequent outbursts. Maybe if he were required to sing his asinine pronouncements, they would be given the lack of attention they deserve.

      1. Well it seems like for some people all JV has to do is speak and the knives come out, so why wouldn’t his attention getting opinions be sought after? And he’s usually right. Never been afraid to speak his mind.

  12. In 2016 teams were allowed to use 5 engines for each car during the season, which had 21 races. In 2017 that dropped to 4 engines, since the number of races went down to 20. And now in 2018 the season will have 21 races again, but instead of rising the engines allowed with 1, it is lowered with 1 again, i.e. only 3 allowed engines. So 2 less than during the 2016 season with the same number of races.

    I still can’t believe that sensible people agreed to this…

    1. Not sure that the one race difference is that big a deal, and I’m assuming the teams have known for a while how many engines they’d be allowed for 2018. I doubt this was just sprung on them and has them scrambling. I would think they knew this was coming well in time to adapt.

  13. The Marathon distance helps athletes that are fitter than me

  14. Nobody has articulated this better than Bernie (via GPGuide):
    Finally, Ecclestone warned Liberty to take Ferrari’s threat to quit F1 after 2020 seriously.
    “You didn’t have to take Luca di Montezemolo seriously, because motor sport was his life,” he said.
    “But Sergio (Marchionne) can live without F1. He is only interested in the business. If Marchionne doesn’t like what he sees, he will stop.
    “I’m afraid that Ferrari can live without formula one, but not vice versa,” Ecclestone concluded.

    I covered Marchionne professionally, and I fully agree with Bernie. Another point Bernie didn’t mention is that Marchionne views Liberty’s claim on 50% of the asset value of Formula One – to cover the capital cost of the legacy of Bernie and CVC – as absurd.

    1. And what is it from a business standpoint that Marchionne needs to see in F1 in order for him to stay?

      1. Return on investment.

        F1 isn’t a profitable venue for Ferrari, so the brand exposure needs to be worth the outlay. Which realistically means they need to be winning and the sport needs to be getting more positive press.

        1. *profitable venture

          1. @philipgb Sorry not buying that, if that is Ferrari’s position. I would have thought F1 is worth at least a billion annually to Ferrari through F1. And they don’t need to be winning to glean it, they just need to be in F1. I don’t sense enough ‘negative press’ about F1 nor any major concerns over F1’s future such that Ferrari should feel the need to threaten to leave. I can understand the posturing to try to retain as much advantage for themselves as possible, as any entity in their place would likely do the same, but realistically I cannot see what might change so much that they would loose those hundreds of millions of dollars of marketing value over. If they insist on getting from Liberty those guarantees of more money from F1 than anyone else gets, and veto power, and those things obviously still don’t guarantee WDC’s then it is time for them to go, and we’ll have a more balanced F1 for it.

            Something tells me they will have to accept a little less because they will not want to leave F1. It’s just too valuable for them to be in it. Liberty will have to take something away from them but it won’t be enough for them to leave over. If they don’t want to compromise and would rather leave then they just look like the ones who need extra goodies to win, ie. can only win in a skewed environment.

    2. Gary – “I covered Marchionne professionally” left me wanting to know more about the context.
      Analyst? Journalist? Painter and decorator? Paintballing enthusiast? I think I’d prefer the last one.

  15. Villeneuve. Always was and always will be a toe rag.

    1. Yeah Indy 500 winner, CART Champion, F1 Champion…what a toe rag.

      1. And in spite of his accomplishments, these days when he opens his mouth to speak, most people seem to react with “oh no, not again!”.

        1. Actually most people agree with most of the things he says.

  16. How many double “ll” can you get into one sentence? Villeneuve *hold my beer*.

    Villeneuve: ‘Williams sold their soul to Stroll’s billions!’ (F1i)

    1. @flatsix – pity he missed the opportunity to use “soulless” :-)

  17. With the 3 engine rule means engines have to last 7 races now, there must be a temptation for lower teams to run engines harder and faster (lasting 2-3 races) to get good points and take the penalties later in the season.

    1. Or conversely run them cautiously and pick up points later when the other teams are taking penalties

  18. Teams which need to purchase/lease an engine now only need to pay for 3 engines per season, hence much reduced cost to the teams.

    The reduction to 3 engines was agreed by all participants precisely to reduce costs for the cash strapped teams who were complaining bitterly about the cost of the engines.

    The 3 engine rule is not a conspiracy by Mercedes and Ferrari to preserve their advantage it is a direct response to the small teams request for lower engine costs.

    1. Formula One isnt going to get cheaper. I wonder where they’ll draw the line for smaller teams. There should be another financial crisis along shortly aswell.

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