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Should F1 freeze its engine formula after next season?

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Red Bull has raised the possibility of Formula 1 freezing its engine specification at the end of next year.

The team, and its sister outfit AlphaTauri, will be without an engine supplier when Honda withdraws at the end of the 2021 F1 season. They are exploring the possibility of acquiring Honda’s engine and continuing to run them, but want to avoid the high cost of development.

A freeze would allow Red Bull to do that – and could also save their rivals money. But would it lock others into a disadvantage?

For

Formula 1 has frozen its engine specification before, notably in the latter years of the V8s when development was restricted. This came after the existing power unit regulations had been in place for several years, during which time the teams’ performance had converged. This created a reasonably level playing field, at least in terms of engine performance, by F1 standards.

It also reduced their costs, a move which many might now welcome again. Without the move, F1 could risk losing Red Bull and AlphaTauri if they decide against pursuing Renault or Ferrari engines (Mercedes having ruled out the possibility of supplying any).

Against

Freezing the power unit regulations would lock in the advantages and disadvantages some teams currently enjoy. Mercedes has moved a clear step ahead of the competition, while Ferrari have gone backwards and are lagging well behind.

It’s hard to imagine this changing drastically within 12 months, and Ferrari accepting a rules change which could leave them well off the pace for several seasons. At least until new power unit rules arrive, which is currently slated for 2026. With a move to synthetic fuels planned before then, a freeze would also compromise the sport’s drive to become greener.

I say

I’m not wildly fond of the idea of a power unit specification freeze, but the idea makes sense at least in principle. The current rules have had several years to mature and, given the economic conditions, pausing development and concentrating on the next generation of technology makes a lot of sense.

But the argument driving this move puts me off it. Red Bull do not need to go down the route of taking over Honda’s engines – even if they can’t agree terms with an engine manufacturer, there are rules in place compelling one of them to provide units.

Red bull may be mortified at the thought of crawling back to Renault, who power units they vehemently criticised following the problems they suffered in 2014-15. But F1 can’t make a rules change of this magnitude just so one team can save face.



You say

Should Formula 1 freeze the current engine specification at the end of next year? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Do you agree F1 should freeze its engine formula after 2021?

  • Strongly agree (7%)
  • Slightly agree (12%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (7%)
  • Slightly disagree (20%)
  • Strongly disagree (54%)
  • No opinion (1%)

Total Voters: 292

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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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  • 109 comments on “Should F1 freeze its engine formula after next season?”

    1. Strongly disagree. As long as power units stay the same teams will converge in performance anyway as they seem to be doing it anyway.
      F1 is a motorsport so if the teams are going to compete in developing cars this seems to be a key area that shouldn’t be stopped…

      I’m still against a budget cap but if it’s coming anyway I would rather see a lifting of as many restrictions as possible and let the teams try a variety of ideas, power units included, long term.

      1. Exactly. We don’t need another team dominating another half decade or even decade.

        1. Just ruin Formula One as best as possible
          and stop the best at quickly as possible for this sport survives from its losers and not from its winners. Never seen so much effort to gift losers with artificial means to cheat the driver who is just ahead. Stop the nonsense and build a system that supports only the concept of victory. We hate losers in America.
          Instead EVERYTHING POSSIBLE is given to promote losing instead of rewarding the effort of the win. Why else do rules change so often to aid the losers? It’s rather stupid. Like so many who comment the failure to act on the issue is entertaining as is the idea of losing being gifted so many rules changes to promote their failing attempt to race a worthy car. Teams feel better when the reward for failing is to create a system that puts into question why try harder like the silver arrows. Let’s just lose instead. If we are good at that then the rules will change against the Merc Jugernaut and that makes racing better. Only better for losers and parts of today’s Formula One are just that.
          Much better for losers excuses than victories admirations

      2. Performance is not converging, that’s the problem. They should freeze but also cap PU performance, this Merc commercial is getting old, I’d like to know who the best driver is please.

        1. How many more times. F1 is a team sport and is as much about technical innovation as driver skill. Always had been, and always should be.

          1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            19th October 2020, 8:23

            I think @asherway makes a very valid point.

            First of all F1’s road relevance is becoming much less. Many of the technological innovations that F1 has developed have been banned on the grounds of safety, cost or sporting reasons. So any arguments citing the importance of technological advance should be tempered.

            When F1 first started there was only a drivers championship. The constructors cup didn’t come until eight years later. I think, we need to remember this and rethink the level of input the driver has regards lap time. Would anyone hazard a guess at where we are with this? I think its about 98% the car, 2% the driver. It would be interesting to hear other peoples thoughts on this, but if I’m correct this means we are awarding the drivers world championship, based on a formula where they have only 2% input. This can’t be right.

            In an ideal world you would decide the drivers world championship in equal cars and that would be exciting to see, but I’m sure I will be reminded, that would not be F1. So what level of input regards lap time should a driver have? I’d be happy with 25-30%. That way technical innovation and engineering would still be very important, but at least we might be better able to judge the comparative skill of the drivers and get more variety of result.

            We may see less pay drivers, engines may cost and matter less. Who knows?

            I don’t think an engine freeze is acceptable, but the fact we are talking about it underlines the problem F1 is having right now. I believe a reset of the driver/car balance makes a lot of sense.

            The result of a Formula One race should not be decided in the laboratory, but on track for all to see and enjoy.

            1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk and even in that period, the World Drivers Champion was mostly decided by the quality of the car that they drove instead of their skill – the idea that there was ever an era where the driver was the dominant performance factor is a complete fiction, and in fact the 1950s was not that dissimilar to today in terms of the importance of the car in making a driver the championship winner.

            2. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
              20th October 2020, 8:27

              @anon, you should re-read my post. I never said there was an era where the driver was dominant. How about address my proposition? What percentage of lap time does the driver affect now and what should it be?

            3. I think that’s pretty spot on @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk – 98% car and team, 2% driver. Although, that 2% is subject to what they are told by the team, and their place in the team hierarchy. Could be even less.
              I’d prefer it were 50/50 – but I know many F1 tragics think that that is already the case… As if….
              Honestly, there should be no WDC attainable in F1 – give it to some other series that does actually attempt to compare drivers equally. F2 is a more accurate representation of this. As was A1GP.
              If Indycar or Super Formula ever went global, they’d be even better for finding a true open-wheel World Drivers Champion. Well – at least among those fortunate and wealthy enough to be able to compete.

              Agree 100% with your final statement. This, like all motorsports, is a racing series. The happenings on the track should be the primary factor in determining the champion. Not the size of the team, not their budget or resources, not the headline grabbing star designer and not the amount of political power they wield.
              Why are we even bothering to travel all over the world ‘racing’ these awful cars if the fundamental push is to be carbon neutral, anyway? We know who this and next year’s champions are already. Just cancel it and come back with something unpredictable and meaningful the following year.

        2. Go watch a spec series for that. F1 is a team sport.

          1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            19th October 2020, 8:29

            Last time I checked there was a drivers championship and a team championship. All that @asherway is saying is that technology is dominating the results and we’d like to the drivers having more effect on this.

        3. F1 will never be like that. You are watching the wrong sport. Hated the eras of Schumacher and Vettel domination, but they were best at their time.

          Learn to appreciate greatness.

      3. They should not cap them but they should make engine manufacturers set a price for their engine – anyone who wants to buy it at the set price can.

        1. You do realize the manufacturers don’t sell their engines, they rent them. The teams are not allowed to do anything to them, not open them, nothing. The manufacturer provides personnel to take care of the engines at the track. After use the engine is returned to the manufacturer who then rebuilds it and rents it again.

        2. Actually there IS already a fixed price ceiling on the engines @petebaldwin – I think it is 15 million a season for a 2 car team (although it is not a price to buy them but rather to be able to use them with support included)

    2. F1 should do official dyno tests on all engines and only the less powerful ones would be able to do developments to catch up.

      1. So reward losers then?

      2. OK so Mercedes get their engine frozen and redbull, ferrari & Renault get to carry on improving their engines then what happens in 2022 when Mercedes have fallen behind everyone else? Do they get stuck with a disadvantage

        1. That’s essentially what the future Aero Development BoP system is.
          If it’s good enough to be introduced for aero, why is it not good enough to be introduced for engines too?

    3. Yes, absolutely yes. As long as the power units that are behind are allowed to catch up to the best power unit, so that they are all as evenly-matched as possible. Remember the V8 era of 2006-2013? I think many of us can agree that was the most exciting, most competitive and closest era in F1 history, and that era had an engine freeze. This will also help to keep costs down.

      1. 4,5 years in a row, mid 2009 to 2013, it was dominated by a single team. It wasn’t interesting at all.

        1. 2006 was a close championship battle between Alonso and Schumacher (from two different teams), 2007 was an extremely close championship battle between Räikkönen, Hamilton and Alonso decided in the final race by 1 point (also from two different teams), 2008 was the closest championship battle in history between Hamilton and Massa decided on the final corner of the season (also from two different teams), in 2009 Brawn dominated the first half, but in the second half they weren’t even the second best car which meant that Red Bull closed the gap and the championship went all the way to the second-last race, 2010 was 1986 2.0 with four drivers ffom three different teams all in contention for the championship in the last race and it was win by a driver who had never previously led the championship, 2011 on paper looks like it might have been boring but in reality there was a lot of close, exciting wheel-to-wheel racing and memorable races such as Canada, China, Hungary and Nurburgring. 2012 is seen by many as the greatest season in F1 history as there were four competitive teams and in the end two drivers concluded their battle in Brazil 2012, one of the best races in history. The second half of 2013 admittedly was very boring.

          Still, the V8 era absolutely was a golden era for the sport. The sport had never been more competitive, and only in two years (2011 and 2013) was there domination in the whole season by one team. 2006, 2007 and 2009 didn’t have too many exciting on track races, but that was because refuelling was still a thing back then and as soon as that was banned, we had some fantastic on track action, for me far more exciting than anything in the V6 hybrid era or the V10 era. Dirty air was not as big of a factor as it is now and we had much more exciting races as a result. I could name so many great races from this era but the list would be too long.

        2. @regs, only 2011 and 2013 could be reasonably described as being dominated by Red Bull. The latter half of 2009 they were the strongest team, but hardly dominant. 2010 and 2012 were much closer, and in 2012 McLaren won as many races as them. No season since has been as close (though 2018 might, given the extra races, be thereabouts).

        3. @regs yes 4,5 years of domination and not a day less… well when you say 4,5 years, it’s only if you exlude the 2nd half of 2009, 2010, 2012 and the 1st half of 2013… so basicly 1,5 year of Red Bull domination.

          But i guess you’re right, no living F1 fan finds the 2010 & 2012 seasons intresting at all anyway… 4 drivers going to the last race with a chance to win the championship and 8 different winners (7 in the first 7 races), is so BOOORING

          1. So watching drivers and teams struggle in mediocrity is better than bearing witness to a team who figured it out better than the rest.
            Dominance is the jewel that all teams seek. Win all the races and win the Constructors Championship and that is considered less attractive than being a loser and running mid pack all the time. If you feel like this then I question why do you waste time on Formula One?
            Human life strives to be best it can so that when I keep reading from you misplaced fans that Dominance is a bad thing, then I gotta ask why? Everybody loves a loser. Let’s feel bad for him because he is a loser. It’s not right. In fact it’s abnormal.
            If Frankenstein was real then many F1 fans are capable of supplying the abnormal brain and we all know the end of that story. Hate Dominance?? Maybe judge yourself instead.

            1. What a confusing comment…
              Not to get involved with all of… this, as you might wanted to reply to someone else or something, but nevertheless… i never took a stance on whether the dominace of one team is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ from that team’s perspective.

              I just pointed out that:

              4,5 years in a row, mid 2009 to 2013, it was dominated by a single team. It wasn’t interesting at all.

              was simple incorrect. I could easily have said that “Force India was the most dominant team in the 80s & 90s” and it would be just as incorrect as that other statement.

            2. Christ, and we allow universal suffrage.

          2. Red Bull won 4 years and dominated second half of 2009 season. Yes, that’s dominance.

            1. @regs In the second half of 2009: Red Bull won 3 races, McLaren & Brawn 2 each and Ferrari 1
              while on the poles side: McLaren took 4 and Red Bull & Brawn & Force India took 1 each
              …sooo that’s utter domination i guess. Thank God we’re living in the Mercedes era and we don’t have to worry about 4-5 different teams (& 5-6 different drivers) taking pole or winning the race…

              Red Bull won 4 years and dominated second half of 2009 season. Yes, that’s dominance.

              McLaren won in 2008 and dominated, by the same ‘logic’ that you’ve applied, the 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 seasons by winning races (it’s irrelevant if they won most of them or not, the important thing is they won some even if that means 2 or 3 per year). Boy that McLaren domination years were devastating…

              Also if you do find the 2010 & 2012 boring please enlighten me which seasons you don’t find boring by your weird standards…

            2. Red Bull won 5 races, not 3 since their updates. Brown was barely capable to keep up. 2 Barichello victories were just luck.
              2010 – 9/19
              2011 – 12/19
              2012 – 7/20
              2013 -13/19
              41 of 77 races. That’s pretty much total domination.
              4/4 championships.

            3. Just because they won those years didn’t mean it was dominance. The championship in 2010 and 2012 went all the way to the last race of the season and was won by less than 5 points in both seasons. How is that domination? Red Bull did not dominate 2009. Yes, they had the best car in the second half of 2009 but in the first half it was Brawn. And the championship went all the way to the penultimate race. In 2011 and 2013, Red Bull dominated, I’ll give you that. But even though 2011 was boring on paper, I can name at least four races from the top of my head that were classics. China, Canada, Germany and Hungary were all fantastic races and I’m sure that there were other good races that year. 2013 was boring though.

            4. @regs Who said anyone about after RB’s updates? You said ‘the second half of 2009’, pretty much everyone assumes that ‘second half’ means after the summer break or at the very least after that season’s mid point (race 9 = Germany)… so race 10 = Hungary. Even if we include that mid point race to give the second half more races than the first, then RB won just 1 more race and 1 more pole than the ones i mentioned.

              So what? Still less poles than McLaren and less than half of the wins of all the other teams combined. That’s not domination. And pretty much most people agree that in the second half of 2009 McLaren was the best car, or at the very least equal with RB.

              Brown was barely capable to keep up. 2 Barichello victories were just luck.

              Brown had no money over the season but still, in Valencia the took advatage of McLaren’s mistakes and in Italy they won 1-2 on superior strategy.

              Even if we include the first half of the 2013 season, just instead of McLaren we put Mercedes as the next best team, then the stats would look like this:
              • RB’s poles in 2009 (after summer break), 2010, 2012 & 2013 (before summer break): 26/56 = 46% = less than half
              • McLaren’s (before 2013) & Mercedes’s (after 2012) poles in 2009 (after summer break), 2010, 2012 & 2013 (before summer break): 20/56 = 36%
              • RB’s wins in 2009 (after summer break), 2010, 2012 & 2013 (before summer break): 23/56 = 41% = less than half
              • McLaren’s (before 2013) & Mercedes’s (after 2012) wins in 2009 (after summer break), 2010, 2012 & 2013 (before summer break): 16/56 = 29%
              That’s pretty much the exact opposite of domination

              4/4 championships

              Yeah and in 2007 Ferrari took both championships… so 1/1… so Ferrari were super dominant in 2007 i guess…

    4. As the power unit is a major part of the winning trifecta (driver – chassis – PU) I do not want it to stop developing. It’s amazing what they have achieved over the past years with thermal efficiency over 50% by now.

      I don’t like the political games though of ‘who can get which PU’. I would open it up 100% and allow any team to pick the PU they want (and make it part of the entry name as required now) for a fixed price.
      As unlikely as it might be, I don’t mind a Ferrari-Mercedes entry if the Italians believe that a better unit is being built in the UK.

      1. @coldfly. There is not much development on the ice. The hybrid is where gains are made.
        So freezing the ice :)
        And let the hybrid systems develop. That even makes sense, something special in F1.

      2. @coldfly

        I don’t like the political games though of ‘who can get which PU’. I would open it up 100% and allow any team to pick the PU they want (and make it part of the entry name as required now) for a fixed price.

        I don’t think that is feasible though especially with the budget cap coming into force. If teams were free to chose whatever PU they can get hold of then they will for sure chose the best PU and that will put a strain – additional resources/manufacturing capabilities – on one manufacturer to supply most of the teams.

        1. I don’t believe there is a budget cap or other restraints on the engine manufacturers.
          For the team the PU eats up a defined part of their budget cap.

          Of course scaling up to potentially 10-13 teams can be a challenge. But I’m sure they can do that. Building the PU is the simple part in their operation, compared to the R&D side. As long as they have some decent preparation time.

        2. Or Redbull can make their own engine. Honda is going to charge them an arm and leg for the pU ip.

      3. There is a max price per year for a supply of engines in place @coldfly. But since this almost certainly doesn’t cover the full cost of the units if development gets counted into the equasion, it is not viable for a manufacturer to actually be forced to supply without limits.

        That is why there is a rule in place that manufacturers have to be willing to supply up to 3 teams – which means there is a good chance to supply the whole grid. Hence Renault would be obliged to supply both RB teams if they end up not having a supplier (although it seems that if RB doesn’t even try to secure one themselves there might be get out clauses for Renault).

    5. If they freeze the engines, they won’t be at the cutting edge anymore… More incentive to go back to a 3.0l V10

    6. Nah screw the red bull cry babies

      1. Very mature reaction.

        1. Would you have expected one?

      2. cry babies

        It takes one …..

      3. Empty vessels with no engine. Just a sugar drinks company.

        Redbull’s wings gets you high but never a lift.

    7. Without the engine freeze Red Bull might pull out, then again they will sell these 2 teams for sure. Not like the grid will suddenly be without 4 cars.

      1. Exactly @praxis. They’re worth at least €200m each so Dietrich is not going to just turn out the lights and lock the door is he. They might be bought by someone more interesting.

      2. Keith, is there any info about synthetic fuel development please? I can’t seem to find anything.

        Very interesting

      3. Good riddance.

        Then they can go back and learn how to make the most important part of any moving machine, an engine.

    8. I strongly disagree with this. Freezing the engines just so Marko and Horner don’t have to go and beg for an engine off of Abiteboul and De Meo is an utter nonsense. As mentioned in the article, freezing the engines now will just lock in several more years of Mercedes walkovers so it would be lunacy to allow this to happen. Red Bull do have a viable option on the table (i.e. paying for a Renault PU) in the absence of Honda, so they should use it.

      As a Williams fan who had to endure the pain of watching the team use “developments” of 1997 Renault engines in 1998 and 1999, I’d like to quote former Red Bull darling Sebastian Vettel and say to Horner and Marko “tough luck”. Put your big boy pants on, get Cyril on the phone, agree a price for a PU supply and play nice in the future.

    9. I cannot see how some sort of ‘engine catch-up’ could reasonably be achieved given the complexity. How much money and time would it take for Ferrari to reach merely the power of Mercedes, let alone the fuel efficiency. And if they achieve both of those but aren’t packaged as tightly that would be a disadvantage, so there’d need to be changes there. Then the drive characteristics and reliability would be a factor.
      If you set fixed targets for power, weight, dimensions etc. ahead of time, then sure. But attempting to make every engine somehow equal given the development approach and goals set already for these PUs seems like a flight of fancy.
      I don’t imagine RB think for a second that this would be agreed, but perhaps they are hoping the threat of leaving to encourage more advantageous terms or concessions in some other fashion.

    10. Conceptually a freeze might just make sense but practically I dont see this happening for two reasons: Ferrari need to catch up and I dont think Red Bull operating a power unit on its own is feasable or advantagous.

    11. Strongly agree. Formula 1 has been struggling to attract new PU manufacturers for a while and it doesn’t looks like there’s any new ones on the horizon, so with Honda’s withdrawl that drops us to three while FE has at least double that. Part of Honda leaving arguably is the complexitiy of the PU and of the three remaining one is the class of the field, one is middle ground and the other is in a bad way. Freezing it or changing it has to be a way forward.

      Red Bull taking over the Honda project would keep a fourth PU in the sport, and given Red Bull are the only team that’s anywhere close to Mercedes refusing this and pushing them into a marriage with Renault that neither side wants or splitting across Renault/Ferrari essentially hamstrings them. Red Bull have been open, it’ll push them to consider their involvement in the sport and that’d cost F1 two F1 teams, four drivers and a track – as well as a PU. F1 may survive the loss of Honda but of Red Bull too? F1’s not that healthy.

      1. The problem @rocketpanda is that the whole model of being just an engine supplier in F1 doesn’t make sense any more. Honda are complaining about spending $300m, and of course they are because they’re hardly getting any return on it, and no prize money or sponsorship. Mercedes are getting a return of $5 Billion! In exposure! To make F1 pay these days you have to have a team in the name of your brand.

        So it works for Red Bull, but not for their engine supplier whoever they are. It’s okay for €15m if it’s an engine that already exists and they just have to make a few extra, but it’s just not on to develop one for them.

        And making the new engine ‘simpler’ isn’t a solution either. The existing one is simple if it doesn’t have to be powerful or efficient. And conversely any engine of any design whatsoever is difficult if it’s taking on HPP.

        So even if they froze this engine, it’s the same fundamental problem for 2026 and not a solution.

      2. Red Bull are the only team that’s anywhere close to Mercedes refusing this and pushing them into a marriage with Renault that neither side wants or splitting across Renault/Ferrari essentially hamstrings them.

        Then that is their own fault then for relying on a historically fairweather manufacturer. They could have stayed with Renault, but they were impatience.

    12. Why should F1 bow down to Redbull?

      It wouldn’t be great if Redbull left – could we have an article on what that might mean to to the sport if they left? The deeper ramifications…

      I do feel if one team takes such a huge step in performance they need their development wings clipped until others have caught back up – maybe with tokens, budget restrictions or less track time.
      Merc should not have had such a free run on dominating.

      Redbull if they do decide to take on Hondas unit should definitely have fewer restrictions on development.

      1. Mercedes do not have a free run on dominating. They have simply done a better job.
        It’s up to the rulemakers to determine if people are operating within the rules, and if they are it is up to the others to catch up. If they can’t, in PU or suspension or aero or driver skill, then Mercedes deserve their position – by virtue of beating the competition.

        If they beat the competition, within the rules, then they deserve plaudits not wing clipping.

        If F1 is truly a sport, truly a level playing field, then the competitors who do the best job should win.

      2. Merc should not have had such a free run on dominating.

        You mean for doing a better job? They were restricted to the same regs as everyone and designed a better engine. They don’t even get the same money back as Ferrari. Winners should not be punished just to make better “entertainment”.

        Really, the only not her thing Merc has done is spend a lot of money on their program but this can be leveled to most teams to some extent. Even Ferrari and RB owe some of their performances to their higher than average budgets as well. The richer teams throws money at the engineering problem and this is allowed until next year.

        1. Money, boys. Wait till you’re 23 or older, then you’ll figure out that your idealistic nonsense doesn’t apply to the real world.

          1. On the contrary, the real world works just like F1 at the moment. The “haves” keep accumulating more while the “have-nots” keep sinking lower and lower. The actual idealistic nonsense in this case is arguing for artificial restrictions on the best engine as I’ve seen some say in these comments (this is different from freezing all the engines which is the subject of the article)/

    13. Freezing power units does nothing good unless there is some parity. Freezing performance levels is never good in a competition setting if someone gets locked into disadvantage they can do nothing about. For someone like ferrari freezing the engines would be a death sentence. On the other hand an engine freeze is the only way to let merc have some competition. Red bull with renault is likely a step backwards for them. Not because honda is better but because they have a factory connection. Which allows both honda and red bull work together instead of red bull just getting what renault gives them. If renault takes a step ahead and red bull takes the renault step we all know how it is going to be. Renault doing all their tricks to slow down red bull so they can sometimes beat them on track. Lack of spares, lack of info. etc..

      The hybrid engines just keep making f1 worse. Engine freeze with some kind of parity would be better than anything we have had since 2014. The biggest positive would be to create some kind of ruleset that allows honda engines to stay in f1. Even if it was with red bull badge. Surely that is better than not having them. Who knows, maybe the next engine regulations have some sense in them that might lure red bull into making their own engines. Since red bull has said they would be interested in running the honda engines themselves.. one assumes they have already talked about it with honda and gotten some kind of agreement about it..

      Let’s not forget that the engine freeze era of the v8s produced great racing and tight championship battles. Nothing we will ever see with these engines. Engine freeze with parity would be a step towards something better for f1 as a whole even if the frozen v8 era is just a distant good memory. After all what has the limited freedom of these engines given us? Mercedes dominance, oil burning, honda failure, engine mode rules, ferrari cheating, massive costs of engines and massive costs of operation… list goes on. Engine freeze with parity could at least help with those issues.

      1. @socksolid With the V8 freeze there also performance inequality clauses. Mercedes was supposed to detune their engine to make the gap smaller, but instead Renault was allowed engine upgrades a few times.

        In fact a freeze was sort of built in to the new hybrid engine regulations too. With less and less development allowed over time. It just didn’t work out because of a late entrant in the form of Honda and Renault’s disastrous start. So they scrapped the planned freeze.

    14. I voted strongly disagree. This is textbook RBR. Lobbying for a freeze, then improve the engine in the name of reliability and safety updates. 2010-2013 again.

    15. Freeze Mercedes and let the others match them.

    16. The optics of allowing this to happen would be bad for F1 as they are effectively saying that if you are big enough and threaten us then we will back down. Would be interesting to see what Merc, Renault, Ferrari etc would come up with as demands for their continued participation.

      Given that there are so many elements to the PU, there will be more options than a binary yes/no on the complete PU and you could choose to freeze some bits but not others. I could probably compromise on freezing the ICE itself but in return opening up the technical regs on the hybrid side (ie no limit on battery size or deployment power) to allow performance differentiation and development.

      However if the choice is a binary yes/no on the PU as a whole i would have to strongly disagree with this option.

    17. Red Bull say sorry to Renault or beg Ferrari for their wonderful engines. One team’s problem either way. I’m more in favour of a single engine manufacturer than freezing engine development, which is essential for the sport’s relevance to a ‘greener’ motor industry, leaving aside that what most countries need is actually better public transport, shorter journeys by foot and bike, and fewer cars all round.

      1. They don’t need to beg, Renault will be forced to provide them with due to the rules as the manufacturer with the lowest customers.

        Also public transport is pretty much going to be dead for awhile with COVID, which is good as far as I’m concerned.

        1. @yaru I meant beg Ferrari! (not entirely with a straight face). And hopefully the pandemic will fade eventually.

    18. I struggled to make up my mind between some options but eventually went for slightly disagree, although I could’ve equally gone for strongly disagree.

      1. I was the same. I can see some advantages to a freeze but slightly more disadvantages. So I voted the same as you….slightly disagree.

    19. I think they should go the other way now instead and mandate that teams must bring at least one engine update every season :-)

    20. I think it would make a whole lot of sense to freeze the engines until the next engine regulation kicks in.

      There is not much point in spending hundreds of millions on those engines if nothing changes anyway. They did all the work and the current “powertrains” are clearly amazing.

      The freeze worked perfectly fine with the V8’s. Back then manufactures would be allowed to catch up if they actually had a proven deficit. Renault was allowed to make performance changes to catch up twice. So a locked in power disparity was not an issue back then either.

      Although of course Red Bull was constantly spreading propaganda on how their Renault engine was producing 20bhp less than Mercedes trying to get even more privileges on improving the engine. In reality it was only 8bhp more than made up by the lower fuel consumption. But Red Bull will try to pull something like that whatever the status quo is. They always have a hot button topic that they are trying to get an advantage on.

      1. There is not much point in spending hundreds of millions on those engines if nothing changes anyway. They did all the work and the current “powertrains” are clearly amazing.

        You do not need an engine freeze for that. You can stop developing it to save money if you (the manufacturer) are cheap.

        1. @yaru No, because then they get beaten.

    21. Too bad RedBull you chose to use the a Honda Engine program and they have decided to drop you off and you suddenly do not have a viable power plant.
      How about racing what you got, good or bad or horrible? Make a better investment next time. This is part of F1. The lure of a great power plant is what F1 is about. Hope the engine you chose works. Sign a contract to exclusively use it and when it’s a turd you want to freeze ALL development so the faintest hint of success in any other program is suppressed. Bad luck RBR it was your decision thinking former glory was yours to just be given by saying how much you love Honda.
      Can’t blame Honda as they see the reality of this formulas destiny and they are smartly moving into the future and current Formula One is slipping as an investment.
      That sounds really bad.
      To bad RBR facing the back of the grid with a big Q about your investor payback.

    22. People seem to think that whatever happens F1 keeps existing. Guess what? The future is electric, perhaps part hybrid and hydrogen. But apart from the current crisis, large manufacturers are looking at other options. Environmental concerns are getting bigger too, and the influence of climate parties is growing too. Commercially the impact of motor-racing is getting less important, and car brands want to be seen as environment conscious. The amount of money that goes around the teams is completely absurd, the races are boring and the viewership has been declining every year. If Max did not participate in race, Holland would perhaps not even been broadcasting the races, let alone having a GP.
      Mercedes has spent an insane amount of money and the result is a unprecedented domination (yes, other teams have dominated too, but never this long). Ferrari has also deep pockets, but as this crisis goes on, chances are that they too will be asked to spent less. The budget-cap is a good idea, but had to be a lot stricter IMHO.
      Red Bull question is understandable, albeit not realistic. They don’t have to ‘crawl’ back to Renault, the French are obliged to ‘give’ them engines. A solution? The only solution is to get a more even field, the driver needs to be the champion, not the engine or the car. Perhaps a power-dependent system? Whatever, but I don’t want to see any team leaving, and I want to see exciting races. If this goes on, there will be no F1 in a few years.

      1. wbravenboer The Netherlands broadcasted F1 long before Max entered F1, so wouldn’t make a difference in this regard.

      2. The only solution is to get a more even field, the driver needs to be the champion, not the engine or the car.

        Then go watch a spec series then. F1 is also about developing and putting together the best car in addition to driving it as best as possible.

      3. wbravenboer, as noted by Jere, the Netherlands already had a broadcast deal for Formula 1 rights before Verstappen entered the sport. They’ve been showing Formula 1 in the Netherlands for at least 20 years now, if not longer, and the contract was renewed several times before Max entered the sport – it is probably unlikely that Zandvoort itself would be used, but it’s rather likely that races would still be broadcast in the Netherlands.

      4. Mercedes has spent an insane amount of money

        Implying that only Mercedes did so? Honda spent a billion on the engine development alone. The budget for Red Bull and Mercedes is not that different. Ferrari spends even more.

        The top three are pretty much on even budget. Granted, I look at consensus on budgets spent rather than the hash of numbers this site produces. I see a team saying they will spent more budget and then this site just copies the data from the year before.

    23. They should not freeze it to accomadate Red Bull, just because they bet on the wrong horse. They chose their bed, they very much should lie in it. It’s not like they will be without engines anyways, as they are guerenteed one if they cannot secure their own.

      If said engines just happened to not be performing, too bad then. They can make their own engines if they want but they don’t want to invest, so that is on them.

    24. Last time they did that it didnt work out. It also slows down development and that just doesnt fit f1

    25. I’m going to do something that I never thought I’d do: Advocate for going back to V8’s. I was one of the loudest voices on here for years screaming for more tech. But now we’re heading into no-man’s land with hybrids that don’t make sense. Let Formula E spend the next 10 years trying to make EVs competitive and playing with the tech.
      These hybrids are too heavy, too expensive and not buying us anything. If they’re going to stick with hybrids, get rid of the MGU-H and upgrade the batteries for more power on regen braking and acceleration. The sound would be MUCH better again for fans and the engines simpler. Battery tech has moved WAY forward since these units were designed. Why are we still sticking with the same power/energy restrictions???

      I think this is along the lines of what the “original 2021” proposal was going to be. I like this direction and don’t see why we’d change it. RBR can eat crow and crawl back to Renault. They were totally ungracious about the way they treated them during their winning years and even more when they were losing… so they deserve to eat some crow now.

    26. The easiest way to get engine parity, which is more or less essential if you’re going to freeze engine development, is to have just one engine supplier, and the fairest way to do that is to mandate a manufacturer that doesn’t have a team, like Honda. There might be more engine options if F1 was prepared to move away from the 1.6 Litre V6 engine. Unfortunately I don’t see the idea of a team with a Mercedes engined car being changed to a Honda engine as being greeted with joy from those teams, and I’d expect Ferrari and Renault to at least say they wouldn’t like be forced to use a Honda engine.
      There’s also the question of whether or not Honda are prepared to continue making their last generation engine provided the customer teams pay for the manufacturing.

    27. Strongly disagree. Why does everyone need to stop building engines?
      Why can’t Red Bull buy the Honda engine and start developing from this point?
      Why can’t Red Bull buy some other engine?
      Why can’t Red Bull start building engines like other teams do?

      And …
      I thought F1 wanted to move to engines that are more environment friendly? An engine freeze would lock in the current engines.

      1. Jim – the current F1 engines are amongst the most thermally efficient power units ever made; around 50% – about double than of the typical US automobile.

    28. Redbull is full of BS. Then can we freeze aero development as well? A lot of money needed to turn the turbines in wind tunnel as well.

      It’s better to kick the empty vessels like Redbull and allow more manufacturers b teams and put in a hulkenberg to satisfy the brain dead fans needs.

    29. Strongly disagree because it would prevent the use of more synthetic fuel for 2022 (20%) and 2023 (100%) as the FIA is planning. They need to slightly adapt the engines for that.

      May be it is possible to bring the new engine rules for 2026 forward to 2023 so a new manufacturer can come in.

    30. If they are going to freeze engine development, then they should go back to the V8/V10/V12 rules and call it a day. Otherwise Red Bull need to figure something out for their future. Clearly ICE is on it’s way out and a new path needs to be found and a development freeze is not the way to get that done as the change is likely to be incremental. Given their current predicament it seems the best option for RB (assuming they want to stay in F1) is to create their own engine department and buy the rights to the engine IP from Honda.

    31. There is a reason I don’t watch Indycar…

      1. @scottie, Which is it, the identical chassis or the power-limited engines ?

    32. I voted for strongly disagree. There shouldn’t be any freeze, there should be a brand new engine formula. Something that was voted down by the big guns, Ferrari in their sheer incompetence and Mercedes in their cynical transformation of F1 into their own marketing platform. Keep the same engine, gentlemen, and we’ll supply you with even more of our company cars. No Liberty or FIA employee driving something other than the Merc by 2023.

    33. Strongly disagree (surprise), It’s called motorsport because they replaced the horses with motors, developing the motors is the essence of F1, if anything must be restricted it should be chassis/aero-package, not the power unit.

      1. A huge thumbs up to this one. Simple and to the point. Thanks @hohum

      2. @hohum They did develop the motors though. So why not just keep using them?

    34. I like the plan of updating the hybrid V6 engine spec with removal of the MGU-H and increase in MGU-K power.

      1. @ryanoceros This seems to be the clear and obvious path to me as well.

    35. OK, so now we’ve all had our chance to vent on Red Bull, let’s get serious.

      As far as I’m aware, PU suppliers are required to provide all their customers with exactly the same PU and electronics packages that they themselves use. That being the case can we stop banging on and on about Mercedes being dominant only because they have the best PU. If their PU was that far ahead, then their customer teams should be occupying 2nd and 3rd in the WCC.

      Prior to Ferrari’s inexplicable (that’s a joke) drop in PU Performance this year, pretty much all the PU manufacturers were claiming that they were delivering close to equivalent power to that of Mercedes so either they were fantasising about their PU or, far more likely, Mercedes has actually developed a complete PU/chassis/team/driver package that is clearly superior to the competition.

      What will be interesting, and telling in terms of PU, is whether McLaren, with their budget, is able to substantially improve when they change over to Mercedes PU’s for 2021. If they do, it could be argued that the Mercedes PU is in fact far ahead of the others, if not, it will further underpin that teams just haven’t been good enough of ALL fronts, not just the PU.

      Red Bull’s request whilst having some merit given that all the suppliers are, or should be, somewhere close to the Mercedes PU to me is still both impractical and against the overall philosophy of F1.

      However, if they do succeed, I don’t see it being more that them saving on what they would need to spend to redesign their chassis to fit a different PU and I certainly don’t see them gaining any “advantage”.

      1. @dbradock Agreed. I’m usually quite averse to Horner+Marko propaganda trying to get ban a innovation from their opponents. Or even worse when they are pushing to reset the “level” in an effort to throw the dice and hope for better luck.

        In this case I feel they do have a point. Engine disparity is no longer the issue. They all produce similar levels of power within about 20bhp. So why keep developing for incredibly small gains spending huge amounts of money. Just allow some power balancing to make sure they really are within a small range and start working on the next set of engine regulation.

      2. @dbradock The tone of your post is to me akin to a conversation we might have had prior to the hybrid era. I think you are making the current chapter of F1 sound much more plug and play than it is.

        Yes Merc has done the better overall job. And I get you saying the other teams just haven’t been good enough. I just think the mountain has shown itself to be hugely difficult to climb compared to past plug and play F1. It is easy to say they (all else) haven’t been good enough, but when no team has come close for almost every season, barring works Ferrari for the first halves only of 2017 and 2018, then it is obviously much more than about pus now being close to each other. About some 20hp give or take.

        I think you really reveal your underplaying of the importance of being a factory works team nowadays, in your last paragraph. What RBR would gain by being closer to a works team by keeping Honda pus in-house for more time, is potentially quite dramatic vs going back to being a customer again. Oh sure they have shown that of any teams on the grid they can have the most success as a customer by far compared to all other customer pu teams. But in these highly complex hybrid times one MUST be a factory team. That’s proven. So no, RBR wouldn’t ‘just’ be saving themselves money on redesigning a chassis. The money doesn’t seem a concern for them, but winning certainly remains their focus, and all customer teams are greatly limited from doing that due to the essential need to do it all in-house.

        There’s a reason why Brawn, back when rumours were swirling of LH potentially leaving Mac for Merc, said where a driver would want to be in the hybrid era was with a factory works team. There’s a reason why he is now saying where F1 needs to head back towards for the next pu formula, is something closer to plug and play. There’s a reason RBR (all teams) would be better off if they can be a works factory team, or a least as reasonable a facsimile as possible.

        If they must use Renault engines they’ll be more successful than any other customer team with their respective pus, perhaps still even better than works Renault, perhaps in spite of FA being there, but as a Renault customer they certainly won’t stand much of a chance against Mercedes over a season. That is, setting aside for the moment whatever reset might happen with the 2022 cars. And with those, Newey and RBR would be better off if they’re still merging a Honda pu to their new car than a Renault one for many reasons that go way beyond just a few hp here or there or a chassis redesign that was going to happen anyway.

        1. @robbie back at the start of the hybrid era, and indeed until the use of “qualy modes” was banned, I’d have agreed entirely, but given that customer teams are “supposed” to receive identical PU’s, including software etc., I don’t really believe that being the manufacturer is such a huge differentiator any more.

          Ferrari is and always has been an outlier – they have always managed to conspire to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory so its hard to judge just how their performance & PU matched up – certainly their customer’s budgets are not sufficient to present chassis’ that would be competitive so we have no real way of gauging their competitiveness.

          What we do know is that during the “Renault” period RBR was definitely as a significant disadvantage to Merc because Renault made no real effort at all to improve its PU or to develop a Qualy mode so they were definitely handicapped by the Renault PU for no other reason that the PU was awful, not because they weren’t a manufacturer team. We also know that the other teams that use the Mercedes PU don’t have a chassis development budget (or skills) that are anywhere near close to that of Mercedes so they can’t compete, not because of the PU, but because of their chassis.

          That brings us to this year where qualy modes (one of the biggest differentiators) have been removed and both Honda and Renault seem to have improved their PU performances to at least be “comparable” to Mercedes and it’s been demonstrated by the fact that the only “customer” team that has a development budget close to that of Mercedes and Ferrari is actually pretty close to beating them in qualifying and races.

          I suspect that if they swapped out the Honda PU for a Renault one the margins would probably be about the same. The difference (my opinion only) I suspect is that there’s still a marginal PU advantage to Mercedes and they’re also marginally better than Red Bull at chassis development. If they had the same PU – it would be a straight fight which would be really good fun, but we know Merc won’t do that, and neither would have Ferrari back when it had a competitive PU which again suggests that being the “manufacturer” isn’t necessarily as powerful as we think.

          1. @dbradock I think you present a compelling argument, but I also think you haven’t excluded my argument about the significance of the factory works team advantage.

            For one thing I’m not sure I can agree that being a works team was crucial before, but is less so now. I think that very importantly due to the ever present complexity of the pus and the way they influence so much of how the car itself works, especially braking, there is still a significant advantage to being able to work everything out under one roof, rather than importing a pu (even with all the specs etc ahead of time) and then marrying it to a chassis that has been partly or mostly completed and awaits a pu to be put into it. To me there is something significant about them going about their days and solving issues as they develop their cars with pu and chassis people together all along for the whole process, more quickly being able to brainstorm and affect changes to this or that as issues arise or ideas flourish.

            Oh for sure you are right to say that initially RBR’s struggles were due to a weak Renault pu with no quali modes. We heard that directly from RBR. And for sure you are right to say Mercs customers don’t have the same budget nor skill set as Mercedes themselves.

            Honda and Renault may be pretty close to each other and pretty close to Mercedes finally pu-wise, but when only RBR can come close yet they are consistently not winning and Merc are, that ‘marginal’ pu difference is making for a vast gulf in the points. Sure in a given session at a given track an RP has shown impressive pace here and there, sometimes marginal, yet look at how that has translated to points in the standings. RP can’t even stand in Merc’s shadow in the standings.

            Relating things to the plug and play days when even an independent team like Williams could take someone’s good engine and marry it to their good chassis and actually become the benchmark and win Championships, it seems to me obvious, especially given how distant all Mercedes customer teams have been from works Mercedes, that this is no plug and play era…far from it. When it comes to Mercedes pus, there’s how the works team uses it, and then way way down the standings is how their customers use it. In the plug and play era there’s no way customers of that pu would be consistently so far back, even with a little less skilled chassis crew.

            I have to stand by my last paragraph in my previous post. There’s a reason (and there still is) Brawn said ahead of this era a driver would want to be with a works factory team, and a reason he is saying the next gen pu needs to be more plug and play. The pu convergence that you suggest means a marginal difference there, and the suggestion of their slightly better chassis staff, should still have Mercedes customer teams much much closer. Especially over time, like the seven seasons it has been of Merc domination. Yet the points difference is vast. What this also adds up to for me is that RBR are phenomenal given their lack of full works setup, or at least if Honda has had that with them it has been short lived. RBR in a true factory works setting would be every bit as potent as Mercedes has been. Hence, they are trying to be that by retaining Honda developed pus and keeping things in-house. As it is, their ‘marginal’ lagging adds up to a vast points deficit. RBR are proven capable Champions but can’t do better than 3 wins in a season. That’s not just down to a bit better chassis crew at Mercedes and LH. I’ll throw one more thought or question in…do you really think FA would have returned to F1 with a customer team, thinking he’d have a chance?

    36. Strongly disagree, purely because 2022 is the new package regulations and with teams having to re-package everything, engines are going to change quite a lot as part of that mix, and a freeze would have the possibility of one engine supplier really suffering by making a mistake with the new regs. Also the new wheels will change the vibration frequencies that go through the car significantly in theory, so some things may fail that are unexpected. The manufacturers need the freedom to update these things.

      A freeze in 2023/4 maybe, with a foucs on a new engine for 2026/7/8 which is simpler, cheaper and noisier. I’d still prefer it if they banned the pre-warming of the cars so you should just be able to walk up to it and start it from the cockpit (especially as they’re hybrid now so no need for an external starter). That’d also make them noisier because the tolerances would have to be greater internally in the engine. I know ERS will always quieten the exhaust somewhat, but they could always mandate a specific opening that bypassed the ERS to get some noise out?

    37. I’m never up for freeze, simply put formula does not have to stand for freeze.

    38. Mark in Florida
      19th October 2020, 15:39

      What will RED BULL call for next? Balance of Performance like the WEC? They’ll do anything to keep from going back to Renault. Come on RED BULL eat your crow and go get your engine. McLaren has looked pretty good lately and so has Team Renault. There’s no excuse for you now. Stop trying to drag the whole sport into your spider web of intrigue.

      1. Mark in Florida the advent of the hybrid era changed the goalposts in that one must be a factory works team in order to fully succeed in integrating pu with chassis, suspension and brakes. It is not that RBR couldn’t take and have some success with Renault again. It is just that their odds would be better of having greater success with these hybrid pus if they can have a deal that keeps them closer to being a works factory team with Honda pus than being a customer of Renault.

        1. I’m not so sure that it’s the engine regs that have favoured manufacturer teams so much as the simple fact that manufacturers can throw virtually unlimited funds at their teams.
          Mercedes don’t just have a strong engine – they also have one of, if not the best chassis in F1. That’s got very little to do with the engine regs. If the engines suddenly changed tomorrow, they’d still have a great chassis and an immense understanding of it and ability to extract the best from it.
          But then, they’ve spent enough money on it, so they they should have that.

          I don’t believe that Red Bull would be better or worse off with Honda or Renault engines. Same same.
          At least Renault have proven already that they are happy to see their engines take race wins, even if that happens while they are in a customer car.
          Unlike Mercedes and Ferrari… How are their customers going?
          Oh, that’s right, the only one of their customers that has a half-decent car and any decent results was penalised for accepting and using illegal data and parts from the parent team.

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