Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2020

FIA “very confident” quali mode ban can be enforced

2020 Belgian Grand Prix

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The FIA is “very confident” it will be able to enforce a ban on teams using high-performance engine settings known as ‘qualifying modes’ from the next round of the championship at Spa-Francorchamps.

As RaceFans revealed last week the FIA intends to ban the modes by issuing a technical directive forcing teams to run their engines using the same settings in qualifying and the race. ‘Qualifying modes’ are not suitable for continuous use throughout entire race distances due to the increased fuel consumption they cause and additional wear they inflict upon the power units.

Racing Point CEO Otmar Szafnauer said he is waiting to see exactly how the FIA enforces the ban, which it notified teams of in a letter last week.

“I haven’t delved too deeply into what’s going on with the qualifying modes,” he said. “From what I hear it’s going to be a technical directive. TDs aren’t really the law so I don’t know where that’s going.”

However the FIA’s F1 race directive Michael Masi said they are “very confident” they will be able to enforce the ban “otherwise we wouldn’t have gone down the road that we have.”

“I know that the technical team in particular has done a huge amount of work on this and has also consulted with the four power unit manufacturers to get their input,” he said. “So we’re as confident as we possibly can be at the moment.

“But as the late Charlie Whiting used to say, we have a technical team of 10, you [have] a thousand people at each of the various PU manufacturers. But no, we are confident. Otherwise we wouldn’t certainly be going down that road and pursuing it.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 46 comments on “FIA “very confident” quali mode ban can be enforced”

    1. I think it’s lunacy.
      If a manufacturer has done a better job and can run harder while still maintaining reliability, let the others catch up.
      It’s a competition, with the same rules for all.

      Mercedes have the best engine as far as performance is concerned and also get grid penalties for component changes incredibly rarely.
      The others need to do better, we do not need attempts at equalisation in F1.

      1. “let the others catch up.” And how exactly would you do that when the engine development is frozen? Nobody is allowed to bring performance upgrades to their powe units, so the FIA are basically handing 2 drivers and 2 constructors title on a silver palette to Mercedes if they won’t do something to even the odds. Btw every dominant team in the past has been stopped with technical directives, so stop acting like this is something special. They have to think about the greater good. And the current situation is only good for Hamilton and his fanboys, for every other team and driver it’s incredibly frustrating and for every other fan it’s as boring as watching a paint dry. Also it’s pretty obvious that they are suspecting that once again 1 or more engines are illegal which is why they also requested the manufacturers to send detailed information about their ERS architecture and in case they see something strange they will check those power units physically

      2. FIA: To save costs, you can only use three engines a season.
        Engine manufacturers: *Develop engine modes to manage and preserve engines*
        FIA: Engines are too complex for us to police – stop using modes.

        I wonder how many unintended consequences we’re going to be seeing?

        1. That’s the point.
          Most of the engine modes are there to protect the engine or ensure the car gets to the end of the race.
          When the engine is overheating they change modes. When the engine suddenly appears to be burning too much fuel they change modes. Running in the pits they need a different mode. Under safety car conditions another mode.
          When it’s raining yet another mode.
          All these modes are to meet the FIA’s efficiency requirements.
          They are told the max amount of fuel they can use up during a race, the teams should be allowed to choose how they budget their consumption.

          1. Won’t the cars just be put in “quali mode” all the time? The drivers will just have to manage temps and consumption with their right foot and regeneration with their left foot. Basically, yes, since the variable modes allow more efficiency and reliability, relative to the maximum power mode, this is just going to increase consumption and decrease reliability. But when the Mercedes drivers really stomp on the gas they are still going to leave the Ferrari cars in the dust. I almost wish the just let Ferrari keep cheating because the racing was more interesting, and there was less whining.

            1. If they indeed enforce a single engine mode, it will more likely be kind of a median or average of the current modes. Since they would never stress the engines really hard with the “party mode” they could instead run them slightly harder than the normal race mode all of the time to reach the same lifespan target. The engines would not last a race if run in the highest current mode, even if the driver tried to manage his throttle input, that is not how it works. The modes also incorporates the hybrid part of the power units, so that on a quali-lap they start the lap with full batteries and end it empty. They could not do that for lap after lap in the race for obvious reasons.

      3. Excatly!

      4. They can still do that. The technical directive is for running same modes during qualifying and the race. It is the best way forward.

    2. I still don’t understand. Teams often don’t run their car on one setting during the race, but can turn it up for the start or when they want an important overtake. Or they can turn it down when running faster gives no advantage and they want to preserve the engine. Are those things banned as well now?

      If not, they can still turn up their engine for part of the race and part of quali (the fast laps).

      1. At the moment nobody understand as the technical directive has not been issued. If reports are to be believed that Mercedes didn’t run their high power modes last race then the teams probably do at least have a vague idea about how it will work. It sounds like they want to stop the high performance short stint modes so I would suspect they will put a regulation in to stipulate a mode must be used for a large percentage of the race if used in qualifying.

        I hope they do not take away the fuel saving modes personally as I’d rather see drivers driving hard with the mode they do have available than being in a high powered mode but lifting and coasting for a third of a race and not pushing at all.

        1. Thats my understanding. The new qualifying mode (or lower) must be used for x% of the race, and a small boost mode for y% if needed. And after a very short while someone will casually mention the possibility of ‘fan boost’.

          1. F1 cars use moving air for cooling, not radiator fans, so fan boost won’t work. Nice idea though. But FE fan boost is a joke.

            1. Yeah! If FE fan boost or anything remotely similar shows up in F1 I’ll find and another use for my time. Things like DRS, questionable tire design directives, single team/driver dominance I can easily live with and still find tons of interesting reasons to watch. Fan boost is in a completely different category and would make a complete joke of the sport. Seriously, social media popularity contests shouldn’t ever be a factor in deciding the outcome of any sporting competition. Now actual fans showing up (and being allowed in) and showing support in typical fan type ways is a completely good thing.

    3. FIA is a bunch of lunatics!
      They will fail or once again create a hellish mess.

      and has also consulted with the four power unit manufacturers to get their input

      And this is just a lie! They have requested info only recently *facepalm*

    4. Loopholes ahoy!

    5. Well, I guess that is sorted then?

      I am still not at all in the clear what exactly they are banning. And how they want to go about that, since I seriously doubt these cars can run the whole weekend just on one power setting. But I guess we’ll find out something, since transparency while it sometimes crops up, is still very far away from being the norm.
      For example why didn’t anyone come out and tell the world about them clamping down on blue flags before last weekend? It would have made far more sense. And verdicts still only rarely get more than the summary of the rules broken (or not) and the conclusion that they were or were not broken according to the stewards after seeing the evidence. All too often without making it much clearer what facts were the basis.

      1. It’s quite simple they aren’t banning anything. Just use same engine modes during qualifying and race. It’s the best way forward.

        1. Easy to say, yet as @bascb and others here mention, these engines are not made to run in one single mode all through the weekend, they have various modes for different circumstances, for purposes of reliability, fuel saving, pits, overtaking, and indeed several that are used at different stages of qualifying.

          How they decide which/whether any are allowed and which are not is not clear at least to the audience.

          If only one mode period, I expect Mercedes to win out overall with their better reliability and power, though Ferrari will drift up in qualifying.

    6. According to an article earlier this week on the German site Auto Motor und Sport , the FIA asked the teams how they use the ERS power circuits, as there probably are some suspicions that one or more teams use more power than is allowed with their ERS system by circumventing the measures using the auxiliary power circuits.

      So may be that is the target they want to prevent using this directive.

      1. FIA asked the teams how they use the ERS power circuits

        Wait. That’s a regulation breach.

      2. As I understand the rules, there’s a restriction on the power expenditure when using electricity harvested from braking (MGU-K), but there isn’t any restriction from energy recovered by the MGU-H. I have to assume this means a car has two batteries, one to collect the MGU-K electricity and the other to collect the MGU-H electricity. Also, as far as I know there’s no restriction on a team discharging electricity to the front wheels when accelerating to help with traction.

        1. @Stephen Crowsen:
          A couple of corrections; the front wheels don’t drive or have electric motors so nothing can be discharge to them.
          The energy from the MGU-H has 2 pathways; it can be used immediately / directly through the turbo to boost power in the ICE or send to the battery for storage and deployment when needed. The former pathway could mean more fuel consumption so if the ICE is efficient, then that pathway can be very useful and powerful. And we know the Mercs PU is very efficient!
          And yes, there’s no restriction on the levels of energy generated by the MGU-H, which was intentional from the FIA because it’s a very efficient way of generating energy. But energy discharged from the battery, irrespective of the source, is restricted.
          This means that if a team / PU manufacturer finds a way of boosting energy through the direct use of energy from the MGU-H, that will be a major step, which probably may be the secret to the Mercs power boost in quali, given its efficiency and therefore potential to use a little bit more fuel to go along with the boost from MGU-H via the turbo…!

    7. Why is the hunchback of Notre dame called “Quali Modo” ? Any ideas?

      1. The hatchback of Notre Dame is probably a Peugeot.

        1. You boys should be slammed.

        2. All they have to do is let Ferrari do to their engines whatever they may have done last season, and we have a field of competitive cars….What the FIA are proposing now is beyond unworkable

    8. I have great doubts about the capability of the FIA when it comes to enforcing engine regulations.
      Apparently these engines are so complex that, as a governing body, you can state that an engine isn’t legal and not illegal at the same time. Also these engines have been so complex that for the last six or seven years engine manufacturers have been trying to catch up to Mercedes, but no one has managed to do so. That is crazy when you think that Formula 1 attracts massive budgets and the best engineers from all over the world. Those engineers don’t all work for Mercedes and they all love competition, but somehow all of that money and knowhow isn’t enough to catch them. That is, in my opinion, a big problem.

    9. The whole concept of this is absurd, for all the reasons other commentors have already pointed out.

      My own addition to those above is this: If the rule is that they have to use a mode for a particular percentage of the race in order to be allowed to use it in Q, if a car suffers a reliability problem are they going to be forced to run the car in a mode that they *know* is going to damage it, because they’ve already used that mode in Q?

      Regardless of how this is enforced, I’m looking forward to sampling all the delicious tears when Mercedes get on top of it before anyone else and increase the gap.

      1. @fluxsource: exactly the point people are forgetting! Some people are so desperate in their quest to see the Mercs stopped that they will jump at anything that has the slightest hint of handicapping the Mercs without actually taking their time to consider what’s on the table.
        For starters, since 2014, ALL the changes that the FIA has thrown out there, the Mercs have overcome them! When the FIA severely restricted the oil burn, a lot people thought it was going to affect the Mercs more, but lo and behold, it DIDN’T.
        At the moment, not only is the Merc PU powerful, it is also the most efficient, with relatively good reliability, which means it can possibly run in a slightly higher mode in the race without going over the fuel limit and/or having a detrimental impact on reliability…in addition, their high performance level is such that their average level (or mid point between high and low modes) for them may be higher in performance than the same mid point for other PUs. This may mean over a race distance, the gap to the others could even be bigger!!!
        Furthermore, if race settings are restricted because some of the PU settings can’t be used in quali, it could mean the tools (different PU settings) available to drivers to facilitate overtaking / defending manoeuvres could also be affected, leading to processional races.

        So really, people should be careful what they wish for. The Mercs have come out to say they are really not bothered and I think people should be worried about it. I believe the FIA may be missing something on the unintended consequences of this move…and people should be concerned about these unintended impacts instead of hoping this move will somehow ‘level’ things between the Mercs and the rest.

    10. Well then, it means FIA itself isn’t sure that how to enforce it.

      For God’s sake, FIA can’t even enforce rules written by themselves in the rulebooks.

    11. Seems simple enough. Mercedes power settings go to 11 and the FIA is banning 11.

    12. I prefer there’s should be no more than 10 button on steering wheel.

      1. Then they’d make every button have 4 modes.

    13. So Codemasters shall publish a patch in one week, since F1 2020 has an “enriched” mixture (thus, a PU mode) which can’t be used for an entire race – it consumes too much. Funny, isn’t it?

    14. I think this a great decision when qualifying positions largely determine race results under current aero rules.
      If an engine is expected to last 5 races and still meet fuel consumption restrictions whilst not overheating or simply dying early, it must be allowed to run in different ECU modes; but I think it’s a fantastic idea to limit the extreme use of such modes.
      Let’s face it, no customer team will ever have the information to know exactly the limits of the engines that their supplier likely does.
      If merc can’t dial in a mode that their customers can’t in Q2 and Q3 they would have to redesign their aero and cooling so they’re more resilient in dirty air as opposed to just clean.

      Simply say that any qualy mode must also be used in 10% of race laps and the playing field will narrow for sure.

    15. I know comments are for exactly that but OH BOY!!! I think im going to be optimistic, see how it plays out and hope for a good outcome. After all the status quo is not working, no one can realistically catch up, if anything they are all going backwards bar 1 team… SO lets give it a try instead of squealing ‘lunacy, absurdity, great doubts’ and other really quite irrational and emotional reactions. They switched off qually mode, that’s all.

      1. tony mansell Agreed. Seems like the norm around here though. Nothing anybody says or does within F1 could possibly be right.

      2. tony mansell, the reason is because people are fed up with the sport being governed by panicked knee jerk reactions – if anybody seems to want “irrational and emotional reactions”, it seems to be you and your insistence on changing things in the blind hope that they might work.

      3. @Tony Mansell:
        Some people are so desperate in their quest to see the Mercs stopped that they will jump at anything that has the slightest hint of handicapping the Mercs without actually taking their time to consider what’s on the table.
        For starters, since 2014, ALL the changes that the FIA has thrown out there, the Mercs have overcome them! When the FIA severely restricted the oil burn, a lot people thought it was going to affect the Mercs more, but lo and behold, it DIDN’T.
        At the moment, not only is the Merc PU powerful, it is also the most efficient, with relatively good reliability, which means it can possibly run in a slightly higher mode in the race without going over the fuel limit and/or having a detrimental impact on reliability…in addition, their high performance level is such that their average level (or mid point between high and low modes) for them may be higher in performance than the same mid point for other PUs. This may mean over a race distance, the gap to the others could even be bigger!!!
        Furthermore, if race settings are restricted because some of the PU settings can’t be used in quali, it could mean the tools (different PU settings) available to drivers to facilitate overtaking / defending manoeuvres could also be affected, leading to processional races.

        So really, people should be careful what they wish for. The Mercs have come out to say they are really not bothered and I think people should be worried about it. I believe the FIA may be missing something on the unintended consequences of this move…and people should be concerned about these unintended impacts instead of hoping this move will somehow ‘level’ things between the Mercs and the rest.

    16. Engine modes are very much like drive aids anyway. Let the driver decide how much he wants to protect or stress his engine. Leave the engines in quali mode all the time and let the driver use his right foot to adjust performance. Like we all do in our own cars. Mark the tachometers with maximum rev limits for race start, overtaking/defending, pit lane, etc.

      1. @GreenFlag: even high performance road cars have different power modes for different driving conditions!
        Irrespective of how the driver applies the throttle, using a quali mode for racing in an F1 car would be very inefficient and costly for the teams!

        1. Totally agree. My main, unwritten, point is let the teams each determine a single setting that suits their race strategy best and let the driver stress or de-stress his motor as he and his race engineer see fit. The team with the strongest motor will still outperform less powerful motors. That’s racing.

          1. Ahm, you do know that it is the DRIVER who chooses in which power mode they run @greenflag? Sure, often they ask the team about whether they can (because it has conseqences for fuel consumption, reliability, heat etc), but that situation is pretty much exactly what you say you would want already.

            1. You misunderstand me. I’m saying the team must choose one mode only and the driver uses his right foot to stress or protect the engine, not use different engine modes.

    17. I do not believe qualy mode or high power modes help the racing in any kind of way so for me bannijg superficial things like this make sense. FIA should ban all engine modes, manufacturers will set the engine to a power level that will run close to needed mileage.

      Not sure what Otmar means, technical directives are not law. Is he thinking of not respecting them?

    18. Faulty confident it can’t.

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