Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Customer teams hope engine rule clarification will make F1 field closer

2018 F1 season

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Formula One’s customer teams have welcomed a rules change designed to ensure their power units are as competitive as those the manufacturer teams use.

RaceFans revealed last week a new FIA technical directive for 2018 requires manufacturers to ensure customer engines “must be capable of being operated in precisely the same way” as their own. This followed concerns some manufactures were preventing their customers from exploiting their engines to the fullest by limiting their access to special engine modes.

McLaren group executive director Zak Brown, whose team have become Renault engine customers this year, said this had been the case for some teams.

“We were always very comfortable that Renault give parity to their customer teams,” he said, “it was one of the reasons that we were very comfortable going with them.”

“So it was never a concern at all. But certainly you hear stories up and down the pit lane from other teams.”

“I think there should be total parity, that’s what the rules are. So I’m glad that’s been clarified hopefully that’ll close up the gap.”

Force India, who use Mercedes engines, said they had no experience of being denied access to performance modes the factory team could use.

However Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said: “It’s one of those things that hypothetically speaking, say that we were to have different maps, they’re never going to tell you.”

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Author information

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

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6 comments on “Customer teams hope engine rule clarification will make F1 field closer”

  1. I am pleased with this ruling. Why should they not have the same power units, and software as their suppliers.

    The chassis design and aero are where the individual teams, can either excel or fail.

    1. Expect Mercedes and Ferrari to find a loophole on this one. I think it’s a great initiative, but very difficult to implement.

    2. @canuckfan

      Why should they not have the same power units

      I think the only issue would be that in some cases it’s not possible to give them the same power units because they don’t have enough of them.

      If you have for instance Mercedes in a close title fight with Ferrari & pushing forward with engine development. They may find something that gives them more power & therefore an advantage over Ferrari & in a close title fight there going to want it in there cars ASAP & sometimes that means only having 1-2 of the new bits available.

      If they have to guarantee total parity of parts & software then do you hold off introducing the new bits & performance gains they bring until you have enough available to supply to all your customers, Potentially costing you points & a championship if in the weeks your having to hold off Ferrari win a race or 2?

      It’s the same with teams where you often see them only have 1 new front wing or something, Do you hold off & lose the performance gains the new wing gives or figure out which of your 2 drivers should get it 1st? Teams will always put the wing on one of there cars ASAP & it’s the same with engine’s.

      I do agree however that they should give full access to modes etc… to all customers.

      1. That is a moot point because the customer teams are not probably in the same schedule with the parts usage as merc or ferrari. Different teams might want to upgrade at different races. Sometimes at earlier race, sometimes at later race. And nobody can upgrade before and upgrade exists so there is always a spare engine available (unless you are toro rosso and renault only gives you scrap engines to find usable parts). And nobody is really complaining that it might take a race weekend or even two before other teams get the new engine parts. It is that the other teams never get them.

  2. I love the reply from Otmar : “hypothetically”… speaks volumes.

    1. Logical conclusion is that if costumers didn’t have parity before now they still won’t as there’ multiple ways to achieve tge same goal.

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