Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020

Ferrari now support engine freeze, suggest possibility of ‘converging’ performance

2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Ferrari have changed their position on freezing F1 engine development, saying they now support the move, but have also raised the possibility of converging the performance between engines.

Red Bull has urged F1 to introduce a freeze on power unit development at the end of the 2021 F1 season. The team are keen to continue using engines developed by current supplier Honda after they leave the sport at the end of next year, but do not want to incur the cost of developing the units.

Ferrari previously opposed the suggestion power units could be frozen from the beginning of 2022. However team principal Mattia Binotto indicated today they could back a freeze if the introduction of Formula 1’s next power unit regulations is also brought forward.

“What we said is there are already regulations in place where somehow Red Bull would get a solution,” said Binotto. “They may be supplied by other manufacturers, that’s no doubt.

“We understand as well their intention to keep using their Honda engine for the future. We had meetings in the last days with F1 and the FIA. I think as Ferrari, we understand the situation, we are supportive in trying to anticipate by one season, one year, the freezing of the engines. That will mean as well trying to anticipate to 2025 the new regulations for the power unit.

“So knowing the situation and understanding the situation, it’s not the first time that I think Ferrari has acted in a responsible way in that respect. So we will support freezing by anticipating by more one year the engines and the power unit.”

Binotto believes it will not be difficult to introduce a freeze. “It’s only a matter of deciding what we intend to do,” he said. However he pointed out that one consequence of the freeze could be to lock in any disadvantage a manufacturer has. He said a mechanism to equalise the performance of the different power units should be considered.

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“We have some discussions at the moment with the FIA and F1: Should we consider a mechanism of engine convergence if there is any situation where eventually a manufacturer is really down on performance compared to the others? Because [otherwise] it’s freezing for three years the relative performance within manufacturers.”

Such rules would not be the same as the ‘balance of performance’ regulations seen in other categories, Binotto insisted.

“I certainly don’t think it is ‘balance of performance’ because I don’t think that the aim or the objective is to somehow bring all the manufacturers to the same level of performance,” he said. “That’s not the case.

“That’s why I call it engine convergence or power unit convergence. It’s only a way of trying to help a manufacturer which is really down on performance, compared to the others. But I don’t think that if we are helping that manufacturer, we should bring him to be the best manufacturer at all, just allow them to try to catch up and being a lower level compared to the others but still not too distant.”

Imposing different fuel flow rates for different engines would be one means of levelling the performance between each, said Binotto.

“I don’t think that there is a solution [yet]. Certainly the easiest one is by managing or adapting the fuel flow but I don’t think that there is a conclusion yet. It’s all part of discussions we are having.”

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However he pointed out the freeze must not prevent F1 from hitting its goals of introducing more sustainable fuel over the coming years.

“We should not forget that in 2022 we are introducing the E10 fuel, 10% ethanol. It’s quite a significant change in the regulation and significant change in the engine development.

“So by the time that we are introducing that fuel, we are freezing [development] and I think in that respect, some risks are in place. So those risks will need to be managed to make sure that we are doing the proper job, again, as manufacturers.”

In order to bring the next generation of power unit rules forward, F1 will have to agree on them soon, says Binotto. “To have a brand new format of power unit in 2025, we will need by middle of next year to have clarity on the regulations.

“I think it will be quite a different power unit to today because I think there are at least from the Ferrari point of view, important objectives that need to be set. For example quite a different cost. It has to be more sustainable in terms of cost point of view. So I think the power unit itself should cost 50% or less of what we are affording today.”

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2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

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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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17 comments on “Ferrari now support engine freeze, suggest possibility of ‘converging’ performance”

  1. “Our engine kinda sucks, can we use more fuel than the others like we did in the past, please?”

    1. Not only that, but also the suggestion that not every team will be treated the same on the fuel flow thinghy. Whats next? Adding weight to some cars?

  2. In simple words, Ferrari wants ‘performance ballast’.

    1. Pretty much. I can really see how it makes sense for Ferrari to go “sure, Red Bull, Liberty, we are willing to help you out, only you know, we need a little something too”.

      And since Liberty will probably be happy to help Ferrari improve their engine to get the field closer, it might actually happen @ruliemaulana (if FIA, Liberty, RB, AT, Ferrari, Alfa and Haas all vote in favour).

  3. I think the sport would benefit greatly from engine parity. It’s never going to happen organically, and if we’re to use this formula until 2025, making engines more equal will benefit everyone’s enjoyment and as such increase the appeal of the sport.

    As we’re going right now, nobody wins as the sport continues to bleed viewers year over year while Lewis and Merc just +1 their title count virtually unchallenged. Is that their fault? No. Would you wish other engines could easily catch up, sure. Is it entirely the fault of the rest of the manufacturers they can’t catch up under the current restrictive rules for development? Also no.

    Creating engine parity artificially will make the sport more fun to watch, more fun the compete in. End of day, how is that not a benefit to everyone? Merc will still be the team to beat, so I doubt even they would come off that much worse.

    1. The last 7 years have been the worst period in the history of the sport. Just two guys on either side of the garage with the only chance of winning the title with one of them paid significantly more than the other.

      I’ve lost a lot of interest. Watched about 5 minutes of practice.

      The only thing this year has had going for it has seeing different tracks on the calendar, plus I’m looking forward to the gimmicky oval next week.

      I imagine I’ll switch off on Sunday if Hamilton runs away with it at the front which he should easily do because he only has to beat his wingman Bottas.

      1. This is how I feel/felt about the Schumacher/Ferrari years. Cheating + no competition from a teammate… complete waste. As a result I turned to MotoGP.

    2. Yes it is entirely the fault of other manufacturers that they haven’t kept up with Mercedes, especially Ferrari and Red Bull. The only team not to blame for the current circumstances is Mercedes. If Mercedes weren’t in the sport then Verstappen would have walked to a even easier title this year given the Red Bull advantage over the third best team.

      Engine performance is not the issue, as was proven when party mode got taken away and made no difference at all. Long time fans do not want gimmicks to reward teams who do not perform well. This is just another thin edge of the wedge to ballast and other forms of performance management. The harm that might come is very real.

      1. @slowmo – This isn’t a question of how the teams perform though. It’s a question of how their suppliers perform. If they all made their own engine, there shouldn’t be any steps taken to ensure parity but they don’t.

      2. slowmo said: “Long time fans do not want gimmicks to reward teams who do not perform well.” I agree, but what’s the answer? The sport needs at least 2 teams competing for race wins and the championship, and preferable 3 or 4 teams. That way David Croft won’t have to hype the “exciting race” for 7th place points.

        I’ve been following F1 since 1984, but have been so bored the last several seasons that I find myself watching the NASCAR Xfinity series road races more and more, even though I used to make fun of the series (as I’m sure many of you still do). It’s mostly young, hungry guys not making a ton of money, and at least 25% of the field has a chance to win a race. The 3-4 hour “Cup” oval races are too long for me, especially with so many yellow flag laps, but next year should be interesting with 6 road races. They’ll probably still last too long, though, allowing NASCAR to sell more hot dogs and commercials.

  4. We will agree to a development freeze, so long as that freeze is only on Mercedes power units.

  5. If you want engine parity, then surely the best approach is to all use the same engine? Preferably by an independent supplier. Could cut costs too :)

    Can’t help feeling engine parity through fuel flow is open to abuse, or will at least give different performance characteristics that could be beneficial in some situations.

  6. 2025 was the target before it changed to 2026, so going back on this. I’d rather bring the change forward to 2024, so another twelve months.

  7. Is this a rather obtuse way of admitting their engines last year were superior because they were somehow sneaking through a higher fuel flow rate than the regulations allowed?

    1. @mouse_nightshirt: Zing!

      Binotto must believe all F1 fans are stupid and naive. Oh wait… that’s Liberty.

    2. Pretty hard to read it any other way, IMO.

  8. It has become clear as day to me that F1 is not a sport. More of a hobby of the uber-rich, who have realised they can supplement the cost of their hobby with cash from fans. F1 is very interesting, but it is pointless to support any team or driver.

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