Mercedes PU106B power unit, 2016

New rules will require F1 engine manufacturers to share technology with newcomers

2021 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Formula 1 is to introduce rules requiring the sport’s current engine manufacturers to help new entrants into the sport.

The four manufacturers currently involved in F1 – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – will be required to share “components and technology” under the new regulations, according to FOM motorsport director Ross Brawn.

He told the official F1 website the regulations came about because the current manufacturers wanted to block newcomers.

“The drawbridge has been pulled up and the existing suppliers don’t want anyone else to come in,” said Brawn. “We have found a compromise.

“There are regulations coming out which would mean new entrants will get support from existing entrants. There will be components and technology which will have to be shared if it is requested.”

FOM’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media wanted to simplify the F1’s engine format in 2021 through changes such as removing the MGU-H. Brawn admitted the plans were now “not quite such a radical change that we were proposing, but still quite a good step in the right direction and there are some nice changes to the way the driver has to manage the engine, which I think goes a long way in the sporting direction.

Esteban Ocon, Force India, Circuit of the Americas, 2018
Why F1’s playing field is unlikely to be levelled in 2021
“There has been a recognition from the existing manufacturers that they can’t shut the door behind them. If we start to get serious interest from another manufacturer or supplier, they have to cooperate to find ways of helping that manufacturer come into F1.”

Aston Martin expressed an interest in developing a power unit to F1’s 2021 regulations. It blamed its decision not to enter on the sport’s failure to drop the MGU-H. Porsche also showed interest in the discussions around F1’s future engine format but did not commit to a programme.

Brawn also gave assurances progress is being made with plans to introduce a budget cap to F1 in 2021. “Unlike previous initiatives, this budget cap is going to be embedded in the regulations of the sport,” he said.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2018 F1 season

Browse all 2018 F1 season articles

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

72 comments on “New rules will require F1 engine manufacturers to share technology with newcomers”

  1. I’m sorry, but what?

    Honda, Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari have spent millions developing their power units and they will be expected to give up their proprietary technology to a newcomer who asks for help?

    And it’s not even April the 1st.

    1. This is a recipe for disaster! If it goes ahead, everything will be fine until someone wants to join and the current manufacturers won’t want to share anything and it’ll be a political warfare like we’ve never seen before.

      This just quiets down any talk of potential changes and leaves the problem to someone else once and if another manufacturer wants to join in. The teams get away with it with no changes to the format, while agreeing a deal about “sharing technology” which they already know they are not going to do.

      1. I agree
        This is a joke

        1. As Sham suggested, implementation date is March 32nd.

    2. Ahem! @ Sham make that BILLIONS I know what I would tell FOM and it wouldn’t be polite.

    3. @sham

      You know what would be a joke? If a new engine manufacturer enters the sport and asks to look at the Honda engine for components.. Lmao

  2. Ofc. they will. Just as the customer engines are the same as the worksteams. Keep it up F1.

  3. COTD: Ha! Ha!

  4. If the new entrant comes in and does well do they need to share the improvements they come up with? Can Honda request help to catch up? Would love to have new entrants but I’m not sure I like this rule.

  5. Yeah right!!! What are these guys smoking? No one will go for it… Imagine Audi or Aston crying for help at Merc’s door! Utter humiliation!

    1. @fanatikosf1, and, let’s be blunt, Aston Martin never were going to produce an engine – Andy Palmer admitted that, at most, all they were going to do was to pay somebody else to build an engine and let them rebrand it as an Aston Martin engine.

      Even then, it seems that they never really had any serious intention of entering, and were simply trying to piggyback on the F1 engine talks to boost their profile and try to inflate their share price ahead of the IPO (a share price that has is only ever going down since the IPO and is now 35% off what they launched at – so Palmer’s PR job hasn’t exactly worked).

      It wasn’t just in F1 that they were doing this either – they were showboating to a similar degree in the WEC as well, and all that they’ve done so far is produce an upgraded GTE car.

      1. @ANON, if they launched at nearly 3 times the current shareprice, I would say Palmers PR job was spectacularly successful. Though I can’t believe people thought such a small undercapitalised company as AM would make money out of a F1 engine program.

        1. @hohum, on the contrary, the opinion has been that Palmer wasn’t successful.

          Part of the reason for setting the share price so high to begin with was because Palmer was supposed to be something of a start asset for Aston Martin – he has staked part of his own credibility on a strong share price, so to have the price tank so much is damaging for his own reputation given it implies a lack of confidence in him.

          They might have set the launch price that high, but they couldn’t sell those shares at that price – the shares immediately tanked because nobody wanted to pay that much for them, and the general attitude is that Palmer has wildly overhyped and overvalued the company to the point that it has begun to erode confidence in him and his ability to manage the company.

          @mrfill, Mecachrome are a major supplier to Renault, true, but the design work and some of the production work is still undertaken by Renault Sport itself. The difference was that Palmer was talking about a badge engineering job – in other words, all Aston Martin would be doing is supplying capital and a name badge, but there would have been little to no design input from Aston Martin at all.

      2. Don’t Mecachrome build the Renault units?

  6. Ferrari should grab this opportunity and create their own Hass teams. Ten of them. Two Ferrari, two Maserati, two Fiat, two Alfa Romeo and two Chrysler. Sharing is caring.

    1. haha you might be onto a loophole here ;)

      Why stop at 10…

      Abarth, Dodge, Jeep, Lancia, Ram

      I kind of like “RAM F1”

      1. Ram F1 should hire Maldonado.

        1. I love that we’re still making Crashdonaldo jokes. He certainly left his mark on the sport!

  7. One wonders how much better the sport would be if there was some required sharing after extended periods of success. The sport wins if there is more convergence in performance. It’d also be a lot more affordable to be in the mix. Of course this idea flies in the face of intellectual property. Still. Something needs to change.

    1. It makes sense, but it would only be feasible if the cycle was longer.
      Apparently PU are developed once a month or every other race. It would make no sense to divulge info on that monthly development, because it would reduce drasticly the gains. Revealing most secrets at the year’s end would do very little to current season

  8. This might be a good moment for Nissan (lets say) to enter as an engine manufacturer and get the Ferrari engine design.

    Come to think of it, for good measure Mitsubishi could sign up too and get the Merc engine design.

    1. Nissan would never enter because of Renault

      1. I think the point is that Nissan could sign up to acquire Merc and Ferrari tech for Renault to help them catch up ;)

  9. So it evolves into another “Spec” series.
    Aero and drive train limited, sounds like IndyCar/Nascar.

  10. Next proposal – Hamilton to give driving lessons to incoming drivers.

    (And Alonso to be a visiting professor on driving standards and ethics)

    1. I mean, I get Liberty’s need to entice new entrants into the sport. But this isn’t a casual game of cricket between friends, this is competitive sport with money at stake. What is the sweetener Liberty are offering back to the manufacturers who offer such help? Will they get 50% of the earnings of the assisted team(s)? I’d say that’s reasonable, as that gives teams financial motivation (which is the only kind of motivation in F1) to help out a competitor.

      1. @phylyp, that would be a good idea except for the fact that Bernie already siphoned off that 50% of the teams earnings.

      2. @phylyp it remains to be seen if this goes through (likely will be blocked by the teams) but I think Liberty is onto something in the sense that if a new entrant approaches any manufacturer and says “here’s 10mil (of some currency), i want to buy the design for such-and-such” that will give a different value to technology for manufacturers in the hopes that it limits their spending in some areas…

      3. @phylyp

        What is the sweetener Liberty are offering back to the manufacturers who offer such help?

        They get to keep their techno whizzpop engines.

  11. If such a rule comes into force, there need to be similar ones to cover aerodynamics, gearboxes, suspension, and every other area where it’s possible to make a breakthrough and gain a significant advantage.

    A while back I had suggested something similar to this and had used the now forbidden double-diffusers as an example of technology that should have been shared with rest of teams instead of banning everyone from using it (after a certain period). I did not any positive feedback! ;)

    Thinking about it now, maybe F1 needs an internal system similar to patents but with time periods measured in months rather than years.

  12. Please do this F1! and add another mandatory pit stop. I want to quit you so bad, but I can’t do it. This will help me finally move on. More spec parts too! It’s seriously getting to the stage like when the drug you are taking is no longer fun, but you can’t quit doing it thinking things will change.

    1. Ha ha, that’s a fun comparison. Or like the girl who’s crazy enough to drive you nuts, but not crazy enough for you to dump her. @darryn

    2. @darryn There have actually been times the past few years where i’ve felt like this. Almost hoping they would do something I really don’t like just to give me a reason to switch off.

      It’s easy to say ‘If you don’t like it then just don’t watch’ but i’ve been a fan for nearly 30 years now… I love this sport & F1 especially has been a huge part of my life. And for as down on it as I have been since 2011/2012 I still have that love & passion for it that makes it hard for me to walk away on my own.

      1. Yeah. That’s the thing. I still think the only thing that would make me quit is if they went full spec. That’s what makes it so bad. They keep adding these contrived rules to try to get some desired result and it never works or works, but is still contrived so is unsatisfying. I don’t mind I keep trying to go back to Indy, but the spec thing bothers me too much.

        1. Totally agree. It’s why I can’t watch Indy either. FE needs to move away from spec if it is to become interesting.

          I don’t know why F1 can’t look to MotoGP for help with rules….

  13. The existing engine manufacturers need to leave the sport. In 2021. And return in 2023 after Liberty promises to not only design the engines, but to pay billions in R&D and share the technology freely with the ‘new’ entrants.

  14. The principle is good – who cares if the manufacturers hate it, F1 has to do what’s good for the sport – but instead of complex rules that will just be circumvented, why not make a simple rule, like: all participants have to hand over a used chassis and engine to FIA, and after, say, two seasons they can all examine each other’s old designs? That way everyone can see what they’ve missed in the past and learn from it for the future.

    1. It seems a good idea but, given the development cycles in F1, a two years old tech would mean a 3 year delay in implementation.

    2. No! It’s not a good idea at all.

  15. So Honda spend hundreds of millions to become competitive and then have to turn their blue prints over to a rival and what, give lessons on how to make the parts and understand the data? Receiving nothing but a thank you in return? What a stupid idea.
    I doubt a rule like this would stand any legal challenge as it will be very difficult to compel a company to give up their proprietary information without at least significant financial compensation.

    1. @velocityboy

      So Honda spend hundreds of millions to become competitive and then have to turn their blue prints over to a rival and what, give lessons on how to make the parts and understand the data?

      Actually.. Honda are not competitive. They’re actually the exact opposite of competitive… And no clown in his right mind would want to take lessons from them.

      But I get your point. Maybe use Mercedes or Ferrari as an example.

  16. Alonso: invests in a new project with McLaren-Honda, the engine fails catastrophically. Leaves F1.

    FIA: introduces rule so that newcomers can ask for help and be competitive from the start

    Alonso: whatta yoke. A yoke!

  17. Everybody is getting upset about new entrants getting some help (I assumed paid for) with ‘components & technology’, and is missing the real gem Brawn dropped.
    “there are some nice changes to the way the driver has to manage the engine”

    And then of course the optimism about the budget cap.

    Brawn/FOM seems to be on the right track, less focus on secrecy and stuff we don’t understand and care about, but back to a healthy mix between state-of-the-art machines (thus incl. MGU-H) and driver skills.

    1. Well spotted @coldfly, that caught my attention too.

    2. COTD for the man in yellow please

    3. Yes, I had noticed that, but forgot about it reading the comments. Thank you for reminding me. My guess is that awkward clutch system will go, and “flappy paddles” “manual transmission” gearboxes will go, instead teams will be allowed to use automatic transmission systems.

    4. No well informed person missed any “gems”. The drivers are already in full control of the PU now and can change engine modes on the fly and can also override it instantaneously for max power at the press of a button. They can already harness the battery to give them full electrical deployment at key times like on a long straight. Brawn, as has been the case since he joined the clowns/parasites at liberty, is talking out of his backside.

      Also, there will be no budget cap without the full backing of ALL of the teams. It is not LM or the FIA that makes the rules, it is the teams that make the rules, and there will be no budget cap unless the teams allow it.

  18. Looking for input here … the expectation is that the development cost for new technology is certainly more than 10 and closer to 100 times the cost to simply implementing (read that as stealing/copying, what ever you want to call it) the tech from whoever developed it.
    In the case of the current F1 engines, the FIA has created this problem with the current rules. Restricted fuel flow works great so long as everyone is using the same basic engine technology. Likely I wouldn’t be able to fathom the cost of all the R&D that has gone into improving the efficiency to where the engines are today. Amazing results and the manufacturer’s deserve all the credit. But at what cost.?
    The FIA created this monster with the MGUH as the candle on the top of the cake.
    Cosworth knows how to build engines and could do a fine job of the basic IC component. Taking the MGUH out of the loop would cut costs but the long term development costs would kill them. If you are 25kW down the first year and you spend as much as any of Merc. Honda, Ferrari, you probably won’t ever catch up. Every year you will be 25kW down. oh yes, forgot, yer goona be broke too.

    1. @rekibsn you’ve hit on one of the fundamental flaws with the rules in F1. A team will spend tens or hundreds of millions to develop something and then the rule makers say throw it away and go in a different direction. No company run by a person with a brain is going to say OK, we’ll eat the cost that hasn’t been amortized and then spend buckets of money on the new rule direction. This is probably the thing that really separates F1 from other sports and is likely a key component in why teams are so reluctant to approve changes. I guess an analogy would be a soccer team builds an expensive new stadium and two years later the FA says you can’t use that stadium, you’ll have to build a new one. Unless the stadium is built on a burial ground or a toxic waste dump site, the team isn’t going to simply say OK.

    2. @rekibsn: Once Ford took away their financial marbles, Cosworth couldn’t build a competitive V10. Although with an investment of several hundred million, Cosworth likely could build an engine to the lofty standards of a 2015 Honda.

      @velocityboy: Since tobacco money left the sport, F1 has become a global promotional platform. The budgets of the big manufacturers is more a marketing expense, a brand-building pursuit than a revenue center.

      Red Bull knows it’s a good ROI compared to other marketing options. Haas entered the sport, not because it was a great way to directly make money, but because it offers a global platform to market its machine tools.

      F1 has become the Pinnacle of Global Marketing Platforms. That involves some motorsport.

      The days of the independent teams spending massive amounts of tobacco money and making a small profit are over.

      I prefer to see Merc/Ferrari/RBR/Renault spending their wanton bespoke ways to glory rather than a bunch of mediocre independent teams running near-spec series cars and powertrains.

      There’s plenty of spec racing series, there’s only one F1 financial insanity series. Sure, it’s not sustainable as Liberty and their massive Bernie debt know. So… enjoy it while it lasts! ;-)

      1. @jimmi-cynic, it’s not just in F1 either – haven’t most of Cosworth’s engines usually been manufacturer backed in pretty much any series they’ve entered?

        Their Indycar engines were funded by Ford or Chevrolet, and of course their early versions (the DFX series) were derived from the DFV, which were all paid for by Ford. Meanwhile, whilst they did develop the VRX30A engine that Nissan used in the WEC and which Nissan sells on to privateers, that engine was funded entirely by Nissan and is partially derived from Nissan’s own VR series engines, so that wasn’t really an independent effort by Cosworth.

        In fact, these days, Cosworth’s main line of business in the motorsport sector is in electronic components – I don’t think that Cosworth actually sells any engines under their own name any more in the motorsport sector.

    3. The FIA created nothing, the mguh exists in F1 because the engine manufacturers wanted it to exist.

      Cosworth were never near the top in the v10 or v8 era, they can not compete with the likes of Ferrari or Merc even if they were funded by a major manufacturer like Ford, which they aren’t.

  19. Ross, seriously……. what have you been smoking or are you just reading from a script.

    First he revives the old budget cap chestnut which seems to be again dying a slow death and now this gem.

    Before they worry about engine rules, let’s see if there’s actually any organisations that “really” (let’s discount Aston Martin who just say they’re interested to get lines of print) are interested in entering F1.

    I realise that current teams and manufacturers are reluctant to accept change, but this fiddling around the edges of the rules as a compromise won’t ultimately achieve much and alienate them just as much as bringing in an entire set of far more restrictive regulations.

  20. Can’t wait to see the push back when Red Bull is asked to share its aerodynamic know how with new entrants too.

  21. It makes sense, but it would only be feasible if the cycle was longer.
    Apparently PU are developed once a month or every other race. It would make no sense to divulge info on that monthly development, because it would reduce drasticly the gains. Revealing most secrets at the year’s end would do very little to current season

  22. haha good one Liberty, pull the other leg! At best they will give them technology from previous generation PU. Even current customers don’t get “full beans” modes. Ferrari already auctioned off some their 1st gen PU parts. They can have that ;) Liberty are slowly becoming a joke. I knew they wouldn’t have the balls to go through with all promises they made day dot. I would rather have a strong dictator that gets the job done.

  23. Sure we’ll give you the technology, but not mercedes, Renault’s. Maybe you can help them!

  24. “The drawbridge has been pulled up and the existing suppliers don’t want anyone else to come in,” said Brawn. “We have found a compromise.
    “There are regulations coming out which would mean new entrants will get support from existing entrants. There will be components and technology which will have to be shared if it is requested.”

    How is this a compromise? Existing manufacturers have pushed back on new entrants. ie, we don’t want new entrants.
    Ross compromises by telling existing entrants that they will need to share tech with new entrants.
    ie, not only will there be new entrants but you will share your tech with them. Mercedes must be over the moon with this win.
    Have I missed something?

    1. My understanding is that the compromise is the teams get to keep the MGU-H that they fought to keep, but they cannot shut the door to competition coming in, and they have to share components and technology. I’m quite sure that Brawn would not be insisting on teams revealing their blue prints ie their deepest darkest secrets, but will only have to help with components and tech that is quite regulated and strict as it is. Unlike most of the cynics here, I doubt the teams are unintelligent and would have agreed to a compromise that would have them giving up an unreasonable amount of their hard earned and expensive R&D.

  25. Will the new entrants be able to pick their donor entrant or will one be allocated?
    If their are multiple new entrants do they have to pick different donors?
    I find it difficult to imagine a new entrant wanting tech. secrets from Renault, Honda, Williams and McLaren. They surely are only going to want tech. from Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
    What about the existing F1.5 teams can they get tech. secrets from the big three?
    If not the new entrants are simply going to leapfrog all of the F1.5 teams.
    This hasn’t been fully thought through and smacks of another knee-jerk solution.

    1. @ceevee I’m sure your first two questions have been discussed within F1. I doubt the four makers have to reveal ‘secrets.’ New entrants won’t be going to Williams, nor McLaren, nor Red Bull, as they are not Pu makers. Existing teams are not new entrants. The last thing this is is knee-jerk. They have been discussing it for two years with the teams. The four makers trying to pull up the drawbridge on any new Pu entrants flies in the face of what Liberty wants to do which is to open up F1 to new entrants, not depend on the existing four staying, nor stagnate F1 from progressing and growing the grid.

      1. I was making an assumption that if they do this for PU’s then logically they have to do it for chassis as well.
        We’ve seen from the teams that use Mercedes/Ferrari PU’s that they are not competitive with the donor teams, so the difference is chassis, with a little bit of driver thrown in.
        If the objective is to close up the field and hope for a wider distribution of podiums amongst the teams then I don’t think this will help.
        My point I was attempting to make about the existing F1.5 teams was this:
        If you attract new teams and put them at an advantage over the existing F1.5 teams how long will the existing F1.5 teams stick around. There’s no point in attracting new teams if it means existing teams drop out.
        Ross and co have been discussing PU limitation with the teams for a couple of years. After the teams rejected any and all PU limitations I think this is a knee-jerk power play move to show who is in charge.

        1. @ceevee I see it differently. We are talking about Pu components and tech, so I see no logic that chassis’ must follow. The objective being spoken about is to invite new Pu makers to F1. The components and tech help will likely be fairly mundane and heavily regulated aspects, and not top trade secrets. The PU makers would simply never give away that nor would Brawn make them to do so.

          This isn’t about closing up the field. They are taking other measures for that. New teams will not be put at an advantage with this concept that Brawn speaks about. That wouldn’t be fair and Brawn wouldn’t ask for the teams to give up all they have spent money on developing. But nor can they be allowed to close competitors out. Liberty does not want that.

          They do not want to push existing teams and Pu makers out. Far from it. But nor can they still have all the power BE bestowed upon the top four most resourced teams. Existing teams will not be dropping out, certainly not because new entrants will be displacing them, as you opine. It simply doesn’t work as you are suggesting.

          This isn’t a power play but a negotiation and a compromise. Liberty and Brawn are very much in a building phase not an adversarial one, and are doing everything they can to mould F1 with the teams support and blessing, ideally, all on board with a common understanding of what F1 needs and wants to be post-BE. Sure there are power plays going on, but I think they are far from destructive ones, and are moreso just natural as teams try to hang on to everything they’ve had, knowing they will ultimately have to give up something here or there from the BE days of greed and excess. They can all improve and grow this thing…but only together. They ultimately know that. A new direction is being thrust on the teams, but they should be fairly fine with that and seem to be, because it is a good one and will always be a work in progress as well.

  26. Yet another proof of how fundamentally flawed these engines are. When everything else need to be bent to a breaking point just to make a flawed concept to barely work it would be easier to fix the actual problem than to create compromises to badly fix the endless list of issues you have created. Too high costs of buying engines, too high costs of making them, too heavy, too easy to drive, too complex and expensive to run, rules that make it impossible to enter into f1, division of f1 into 2 or 3 different divisions with absolutely 0 chance of any change, focus on fuel saving, engine component saving and oil burning instead of racing, too much controlled by the top teams who block every change that could make things better… maybe just maybe these horrible engines are actually at fault and not everything else?

    1. You are completely and totally clueless

      1. Toto is that you?

  27. There are regulations coming out which would mean new entrants will get support from existing entrants. There will be components and technology which will have to be shared if it is requested.

    Can’t see the big three or Honda sharing current tech, far to valuable an asset. We only have to look at the compulsory ‘gardening leave’ top team members take when they change teams.
    I’m thinking this may apply only to tech that is…well not passed its use by date but just along the lines of “known”information and the help will be along the lines of support in applying it and helping sort out/skip the start up problems.
    But to suggest that Merc, Ferrari, Renault or Honda would hand over new and exclusive tech is just ludicrous.

    1. @johnrkh Agreed and I’m sure the teams would not agree to reveal their secrets, nor would Brawn even think to ask them to do that, and it is more about the ‘known’ stuff as you well state, regarding them just supporting and guiding new entrants past the initial teething problems.

  28. This is what F1 comes up with to fix the situation their engine formula has become so complicated it takes former nr 1 brands Honda and Renault forever to even come near Mercedes and Ferrari.

    Is this even legal t ask the current manufacturers?

  29. I can’t understand if this actually is as ridiculous as it sounds.
    Anyway, the takeaway to me is that current engines are definitely too complicated for the sport.

    1. @m-bagattini: Perhaps you takeaway is correct, but the sport is certainly not too complicated for the current engines. ;-)

Comments are closed.