Red Bull’s urgent push for an F1 engine freeze has hit a roadblock

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Arguably the most misused F-word in Formula 1 is currently ‘freeze’ – as in the engine freeze Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri are asking the FIA to impose on the sport in order to enable the teams to continue using Honda power after the Japanese company exits at end of the year.

There is an alternative available: Renault power, with which Red Bull won four double titles at the turn of the decade. But their subsequent history makes any reconciliation unlikely. In addition, Red Bull’s modus operandi is to control its own destiny, which is impossible to attain when crucial parts of the equation are provided by outside suppliers.

Consider the following: Rather than sponsor a F1 team, Red Bull owns two. Rather than commit to trackside advertising, Red Bull has its own F1 track. Rather than advertise on television, Red Bull has its own station, Servus, which holds various broadcast rights including F1 and plays music produced by Red Bull Records. Weather forecasting for the brands’ various ‘edgy’ activities and music shows? In-house company Ubimet delivers.

Rather than have independent media publishing news and features about its F1 and other motorsport and lifestyle activities, Red Bull publishes Speedweek and Red Bulletin. Team gear and corporate dress? In-house fashion brand AlphaTauri, established in 2016, attends to their sartorial needs while being available for sale. There’s surely no need to further labour the point about Red Bull’s attitude to self-sustainability and control.

Red Bull and Honda ended 2020 on top
Yet for engines Red Bull has always relied upon outside suppliers. True, the brand scored those serial title successes, but Renault was Red Bull’s de facto ‘works’ engine partner after the French team withdrew from competition at the end of 2009. Since then, Renault has re-entered F1 in its own right, and by the nature of the beast puts its own interests first, even if circumstantially and/or subliminally.

That said, McLaren replaced the Red Bull teams as Renault’s customer engine partner and placed third in last year’s overall constructors’ classification – finishing one place adrift of Red Bull-Honda, two ahead of the Renault team itself and four ahead of AlphaTauri – so arguments about levels of technology and trackside service are rendered somewhat moot by the orange team’s form. Still, McLaren is switching to Mercedes from this year…

The proposed ‘freeze’ goes against F1’s DNA which, as Red Bull team boss Christian Horner once told this writer, is one of continuous evolution, as comparisons of cars or engines over the past 70 years illustrate. But these are uncertain times, and already development of current chassis has been largely frozen as part of a raft of cost-saving measures.

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Such decisions were not, though, taken to aid a particular team. Ironically, the FIA simultaneously proposed freezing power units, but Red Bull pleaded against such moves, arguing Honda might exit were one to be introduced, only for the company to do just that. Such antics did not exactly endear the Red Bull teams (and Honda) to the governing body, which also took dimly to insinuations that the drinks brand may withdraw from F1 unless a freeze is imposed.

Horner originally wanted a deal by November
Nor did the two teams’ push for a decision by the end of November last year go down well with its grid peers, the majority of whom would need to approve Red Bull’s request for the freeze to pass into the regulations.

“Engine stuff has such long lead times, and if we were to take on a project like [Honda engines] then there’s quite a lot of work behind the scenes that would obviously need to happen and be put in place. Really by the end of [November] we need to be firming up on a position,” Horner said at the time.

A spokesperson for a rival team sneered at the timeline, telling RaceFans, “We’re not going to make it easy for them; why should we? Plus, there are too many unanswered issues before can take a decision.” These are expanded upon below.

Thus, the matter rumbled on beyond the end of November and into mid-December, when Max Verstappen’s victory from pole position in Abu Dhabi shied rival teams away from a decision, with Pierre Gasly’s subsequent comments that “[Honda] will push and give everything until the last race [of 2021],” further flaming the apparent antipathy.

“They win, then want us to freeze their engine after that performance?” muttered a team boss.

Then, a fortnight ago, a Red Bull source revealed that a vote had been set down by the FIA for last Monday, but this proved to be a false dawn, with an FIA spokesperson telling RaceFans: “Maybe somebody thought there was a vote scheduled.” A rival team figure later told RaceFans, “Yesterday’s vote was expected only by Red Bull; it was clear for days that there was no vote…”

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Our original Red Bull source lamented that, “The goodwill that existed on Friday no longer existed on Monday,” but remained hopeful that the freeze concept would soon be approved at team level, assuming both FIA and F1 vote in favour of a freeze (see below).

The 2021 season will be the last for Red Bull-Honda
The answer to the phantom vote lies somewhere between the various comments: Apparently a vote was requested and agreed to, but not unanimously. Certain parties felt they needed to understand the implications: How and when would specifications be frozen; what if one engine proved much faster (or slower); how long would the freeze last; what balance of performance mechanisms applied; how would they be monitored?

As revealed previously, a Formula 1 Commission meeting is scheduled for Thursday 11th February, and while the majority of agenda items are Covid-related, the question of a freeze will surely to be discussed, in particular the points outlined above.

Under F1’s incoming (2021-25) governance process chassis regulation, any changes agreed before end-April of the preceding year require a ‘simple majority’. This is not, though, as simple as it seems: in F1 ‘simple majority’ is not a plus-one majority as per real life, but 25 votes out of 30. The FIA and F1 have 10 votes each and each team one. A ‘super majority’ is required to approve changes agreed after the end of April, which means 28 out of 30 votes.

Matters are more complex for power units – the same mechanisms apply, albeit with each power unit supplier also having a vote. Thus, with 10 teams and four power unit suppliers, a motion requires 27 votes (from 34), with the teams and power unit suppliers sharing 14 votes amongst them, and governing body and commercial rights holder 10 each. The Red Bulls are clearly assuming the FIA/F1 axis will vote for a freeze, or have been granted such assurances.

Thus, the Red Bulls (and Honda) – with a vote each – would need to find another four votes in favour for the freeze to fly. How their competitors vote will depend upon the fine print and, as always, the devil lurks in the detail. A draft proposal has it that engine suppliers would be free to develop their power units as they see fit until close of scrutineering for the opening 2022 round, and thereafter specifications would be frozen.

Ross Brawn, 2020
Brawn wants new engine and chassis regulations to coincide
That, though, flies in the face of logic for power unit suppliers would be forced to cram three years of development into a single season, all while the sport is reeling from the effects of Covid. An alternate proposal is to freeze engines after this season, thereafter using fuel flow to balance performance between power units. Rivals are, however, cynical about the efficacy of such measures, particularly as the system is potentially open to abuse.

Furthermore, Mercedes is content with its current performance advantage, while Ferrari and Renault have some catching to do; Honda’s is said to be the second-best power unit at present. Why would Mercedes voluntarily cede its advantage to help direct competitors, one with whom there has been a fair amount of ‘needle’ in recent years? Equally, how can Ferrari and Renault be expected to catch up in a year; what if they don’t?

A more vexing question is: How long will the freeze last? 2022 sees F1 race under its ‘new era’ chassis regulations – originally slated for 2021-25, then pushed back by a year due to the effects of Covid. No decision has yet been taken as to whether the end date will also be delayed by a year – thus to 2026.

I put the question of timing for the regulation change to F1 managing director Ross Brawn during an exclusive interview last week.

“There’s some discussion at the moment [about] what’s the ideal,” he said. “We’re keen to introduce a new power unit at some point in the future; we think there’s opportunity with the power unit, [to be able to] set a new target and a new objective which could be extremely relevant, extremely appealing to existing suppliers and new [manufacturers].

Mercedes PU106B power unit, 2016
Current power units will remain until at least 2025
“So, it’s a question of whether we do that for 2025, or 2026. I think the [chassis] regs will align with that, because I think when we do the new power unit, we need to do a step with the car, because one of the things we want to be able to demonstrate is another major step in efficiency in terms of fuel consumption. That will come partly from the technology of the car as well as the technology of the power unit.”

Bear in mind that all teams plus the FIA and F1 will needs to vote on any change of shelf life, and that will hardly be the work of a moment.

In December 2020 the FIA committed to “a second-generation biofuel variety, meaning it is exclusively refined using bio-waste, not intended for human or animal consumption” by 2030, adding that these “100% sustainable fuels [would be mandated for] introduction of the new F1 powertrain architecture.”

During our interview Brawn quickly warmed to the topic. “The key thing is sustainable fuels. We want to be able to use a fuel which completes the carbon cycle and comes from renewable sources to close off the carbon circle,” he said.

However, a complicating factor is that split opinions exist within the F1 fuel advisory panel FOFAP, upon which all major oil companies – including those not in F1 – sit. FOFAP meets annually to ensure F1’s fuels are road relevant. One faction believes F1 should embrace these second generation ‘Gen-2’ sustainable fuels ASAP, while another is of the opinion that it makes little sense for F1 to race with fuels that are not (yet) commercially available.

Does FOFAP have valid points, I asked Brawn.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2020
Red Bull’s rivals do not want to lock in a disadvantage
“They have valid input,” he says, adding, “[But] I think there are interim steps worth [considering]. Are there baby steps we could make, or would we be better off making big step to a fully sustainable fuel? We think probably the latter, and some of the debate is around the interim steps that could be made.”

The matter is believed to be up for discussion during next week’s Commission meeting but is unlikely to be voted upon given the far-reaching implications (and potential complications) for F1, teams and present and potential engine suppliers. Crucially, some teams indicated to RaceFans they would prefer to delay the freeze vote until these (and other) issues are clarified. That said, consider the implications of a five-year freeze…

On the one hand an alternative engine supply option exists for Red Bull in the form of the FIA’s engine supply regulations, which include an ‘obligation to supply’ mechanism. Under the provisions, Renault, as the power unit supplier with the least customers (currently only itself) the company would be required to supply both teams if called upon to do so. Thus, Red Bull cannot claim that it has no alternative, only that rancour exists.

On the flipside, Red Bull is obviously seeking the best solution to the thorny issue of power unit supply. The problem is, though, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and while some power unit suppliers have publicly backed Red Bull’s calls for a freeze, they will acquiesce provided their performances are not jeopardised in the process. After all, why spent $150 million only to voluntarily hand both titles to your fiercest competitors?

Our Red Bull source last week spoke of an absence of “goodwill”, and therein lies the rub: the company and its subsidiaries have always controlled their own destinies – consider that Red Bull is not a listed entity – and now both its teams are reduced to beseeching votes from the governing body, the commercial rights holder, eight rivals and three engine suppliers, two of whom are direct market competitors for Honda globally.

On that basis alone there is unlikely to be an easy or quick solution, let alone a decision anytime soon.

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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...

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55 comments on “Red Bull’s urgent push for an F1 engine freeze has hit a roadblock”

  1. If only Horner and Red Bull would learn their lesson:

    You’re not an engine manufacturer so don’t burn your bridges!

    Renault would have been a perfectly reasonable option for them if Red Bull hadn’t done everything in their power to humiliate them publicly.

    1. Time for Red Bull to quit. Let’s leave them.

      1. Yes because two teams leaving (one of these two being the only one able to challenge Mercedes) is exactly what this sport needs…

        1. Might help to show the decision-makers what’s wrong with it, so they actually put in some proper fixes.

          1. There is nothing wrong with the PU availability rules. RBR might not like them (or it doesn’t fit their ‘best outcome’ solution), but still not wrong.

            Not sure what you want to fix then.

          2. @coldfly
            I do think there is something (or many things) wrong with the current engine availability situation.
            But my comment wasn’t about that. It was related to ‘two teams leaving F1’ – my point being that F1 is doing nothing to increase the number of cars on the grid. The opposite, in fact.
            If one or two teams leave, F1 would be in a precarious state – and the need to adapt would be more present than ever.
            If two teams leave from a grid of 26 cars, no major catastrophe. If two teams leave from a 20 car grid – that’s a big problem. Especially so given the current field spread and positioning of those two particular teams.
            That is absolutely F1’s problem.

        2. Just because redbull quit doesn’t mean there would be 2 less teams, the 2 teams combined have a value of over £1billion. No one would just dissolve that asset, they would sell the teams to the highest bidders of which there would be many

          1. @the-edge
            Red Bull leaving would be disastrous though. Red Bull is one of the few teams who genuinely have ambition to win titles. Customer teams like McLaren and Aston are happy with occasional podiums because they know they are not going to beat Mercedes for as long as Mercedes remains a factory team.

            If Red Bull is bought out by another company who is happy just to be in Formula 1 (like Aston Martin), that would kill any competition left in the sport.

          2. @the-edge The last part of the last sentence is the assumption that is the fulcrum of the matter. If there are indeed enough good bidders (lots of money does not always equal sufficiently good F1 team management, especially if it’s a purchase rather than a FIA-approved new entry), then F1 can let Red Bull leave and might not even care.

            If they don’t bid, or the winning bidder turns out to be incompetent, that’s another story.

      2. Redxit does have a ring to it

    2. Renault didn’t need Red Bull to do that, they did that by themselves, they wanted these crap engine regs and they failed to deliver in spectacular fashion. So, is it any wonder Red Bull was upset and moved on? Red Bull wants to win the championship, paying them millions for a subpar product with no tangible improvement in fortunes was only going to go one way.

      Honda came in a year later with an even worse engine, but they eventually out developed Renault.

      Renault are awful.

      1. That’s a very simplistic view on the situation!

        First rule of business: Don’t upset your suppliers, especially if your livelihood depends on them.

        Renault never set-out to create a uncompetitive engine and, in an Adrian Newey designed Red Bull, it may actually be closer to Mercedes than you think.

        1. @sonnycrockett But I think it is also simplistic of you to use hindsight to claim they shouldn’t have burned a bridge with Renault. First of all, have they burned that bridge? It takes two to tango, and let’s not forget that the Renault pu was holding them back and they (RBR) hung in there a long time waiting for the promised improvements that never came.

          At some point RBR had to start making it clear to their fans and sponsors that their lack of performance was not down to them dropping the ball, but was rather at the hands of a weak pu. No different than when drivers point out they had an issue with this or that, thus explaining why they didn’t win the race or place higher. Fans of the team or the driver will call these explanations reasons, whereas non-fans like to call them excuses.

          I don’t disagree with you that RBR could be reasonably competitive with the current Renault pu if it comes to that, but the problem is that in this era one needs to be a works factory team in order to succeed, and only one team has managed to do that, so I certainly don’t blame RBR for looking down every alley and turning over every rock to try to remain a works team rather than a customer one, for they are not just a regular customer. It would be in F1’s best interest to have RBR be a works team if at all possible too, not that I am going to hold my breath for that to happen. Will be interesting to see what else RBR might have up their sleeves if anything, if this freeze isn’t agreed.

          1. @Robbie you’ve pretty much nailed it. I doubt very much that the bridge has been burned, particularly now that Cyril has departed.
            For mine, one of the biggest issues (and indeed a major reason for RBR closing the gap fairly rapidly), has been the regulation that prevents “party mode” from being used. The fact that Renault outright refused to develop one for several seasons in the name of “reliability” (whilst continuing to be the most unreliable PU) caused a huge amount of angst and RBR, to me, certainly had the right to publicly state that the PU was holding back their chances. it was, simple as that, because without party mode they had pretty much no chance at all of getting pole, and therefore, because of the current difficulty in following, no chance at winning the WCC or the WDC.
            I know you’ve consistently said that no “non-manufacturer” can win, but I really think that if the RBR had the Mercedes PU, there’d have been a hell of a battle at the front and they’d have had a 50% chance compared to no chance at all with the Renault PU in the years 2014 – 2016. From 2017 onwards, they’ve contributed their own problems with design issues at the start of the season and I suspect even with Merc PU’s they’d have started each season poorly but I firmly believe would have been consistently challenging for wins in the second half of each of those seasons.
            Long story short – I believe they could have won if they’d had Merc PU’s – it wasn’t the lack of being a manufacturer team, it was all down to PU initially and latterly poor starts to their seasons.

            I’m also confident that 2022 should see a slight reduction in the PU advantage where a good design should be able to at least challenge without destroying its tires.

  2. Interesting stuff @dieterrencken; Notable how often you come back to ‘goodwill’ – while I do think there’s quite a few reasons to grant Red Bull Racing some of that, I have to say that personally their leadership as appeared to willingly throw it away rather publicly at many occasions, partners and competitors over the last decade, so given the complexities you so adequately describe, it’s little wonder if it failed them last Monday.

    Despite that, your article also gives me good hope that everyone involved is at least interested in a good faith attempt at solving this, which is somewhat new in F1, I have to say.

  3. Good.

    Happy we still see engine development in F1

    1. Engine development is directly proportional to low competition in Formula 1

      The most competitive years in F1 history were when engine development was frozen and it was all about chassis (2007, 2008, 2010, 2012)

      The least competitive era in Formula 1 history is 2014 to today, an era where engine development costs are more rampant than ever before.

      1. Yeah because before 2007 we never had competitive seasons like 2006, 2003,2000,1999,1998,1997, … If anything is wrong, it’s the fact that the regs are to strict.

  4. It seems that Servus TV obtained the 2021+ broadcasting rights for F1, but it transmits for free on the Astra 1 satellite (19.2°E), which can be received in almost all of Europe. So doesn’t that mean that technically, F1 is free to air in almost all of Europe?

    1. I am pretty sure that you cannot actually get footage from Servus TV without the proper decoding cards though @aapje?

      1. @bascb

        I found a site that said that they are unencrypted, but they seemed to have changed that when they got the MotoGP rights and the site was not updated. So it’s indeed only available with a subscription now.

    2. @aapje
      As mentioned by @bascb, the Servus TV cannot be received free to air. I myself have it decrypted on my receiver on Astra 19.2°E through card sharing satellite receiver. I think the topic has been thoroughly discussed with the folks in a separate RaceFans thread last year and the conclusion was that there was no channel transmitting F1 free to air in Europe.

      However, if you happen to be living in Portugal, Spain, South of France, Italy, Greece and probably Turkey and if you can receive satellite signal of Arabsat Badr 7 26°E, then you can watch F1 free to air on MBC Action. The thing is, even though the commentary team commenting in Arabic are usually spot on especially Khalil Bashir, the former A1 GP driver, there is no English commentary.

      As for the rest of Europe, MBC is available in many TV packages. So you have to verify in their website and if you’re lucky enough you might have it already. If not, it is available as part of a popular Arabic IP TV app operating in all Europe except France which is relatively cheap compared to other subscription services transmitting F1. They are offering it now for 22 Euro for a yearly subscription but like I said there is no English commentary.

  5. If I were Red Bull I would sell RBR, but keep AT and rebadge it as the Red Bull team. Value in keeping it as a midfield team.

    There’s no real point in competing if they can’t get the engine freeze. Sport is completely beholden to Mercedes at this point. Formula Mercedes.

    Renault’s future in the sport not guaranteed either.

    F1 is in trouble but they will get what they deserve at the end of the day.

    1. @Dean F In my view, selling the B-team would be a better alternative than the main team. Also, more likely out of these two scenarios.

    2. I’m fairly certain it was once stated that the Alpha Tauri team actually costs more to run than the main team, as the return on investment is considerably lower. In that case, why disband the main team?

  6. As a fan of Red Bull/AlphaTauri – and Honda, I rather hope they all do stay. It would be pretty good to have Red Bull’s teams in charge of their own power for at least a while as on one hand it gives them true independence and on the other nobody else to blame when it doesn’t work. Also it keeps the Honda unit in F1, and Red Bull.

    As Mercedes & Ferrari won’t supply them and Renault are unlikely to, I don’t think F1 can afford to lose an engine PU, the current 2nd best team, a midfield team, four drivers and a decent track if Red Bull decide to pack up and leave.

    1. For some reason, the only scenario that’s talked about concerns RBR taking the Honda IP, meaning no matter what, Honda will disappear. I do wonder why under the situation of a freeze, RBR is apparently able to do what Honda can not. Since costs was not the issue, surely Honda could stay without sacrificing any EV projects they need certain current F1 engineers for?

      1. Honda could sponsor for the name so don’t expect the name is gone.

        1. @macleod The direct name, of course, will be gone after this year. It’d be a Honda PU rebranded to a separate entity.

  7. Hopefully this is the start of the end of Red Bull in F1.

    1. What a useless comment.

  8. Sounds like Red Bull are between a rock and a hard place and I think it’s strange that Red Bull should talk about “goodwill” when at times they have been sadly lacking in that department.
    However I do hope the powers that be find a solution to this problem that satisfies all parties as F1 can ill afford to lose teams.

  9. Does FOFAP have valid points, I asked Brawn.
    “They have valid input,” he says, adding, “[But]

    that really sounds like a “NO”
    YES but…equals NO.

    1. Exactly, it reads like “it’s valid, but I won’t listen to it”

  10. The thing for me is that Red Bull have the view that the engine’s should be frozen because Red Bull should be guaranteed a competitive engine & it seems as if many fans who want to see RB remain competitive hold a similar view.

    But for me I don’t think engine’s should be frozen partly because I like that technical/development aspect of F1 but also because I don’t think any team should be guaranteed anything. If RB decide to take on the future development of the Honda engine & fall down the order then I don’t have an issue with that as teams losing a good engine supply deal & falling down the order is just a potential part of F1, Always has been & always will be.

    It’s also not as if Red Bull don’t have alternative options because for as reluctant as they may be to go back to Renault (And perhaps Renault is to supply them again) it’s a pretty good engine now & the regulations state Renault would have to supply them if they needed an engine.

    Also consider this. If it were say Williams or Sauber about to lose the factory Honda deal would anyone be calling for an engine freeze then? Of course not, They would simply be told to take the Renault as it’s a decent engine that is also a cheaper option than trying to take on the Honda development themselves.

    1. All very good points.

    2. @stefmeister While of course inevitably RBR comes across as self-serving here, and what team isn’t, at the same time it is hard to argue that the more F1 can do to make a more competitive series, and that includes shedding themselves of this seemingly locked-in advantage Mercedes has had, the better. There is a greater good to keeping a pu manufacture in F1 even if done the way RBR are proposing. It is not like their idea or their hope is falling entirely on deaf ears either, and only seen as selfish, as there are definitely higher ups in F1 that would love to not lose Honda, and would love to see RBR (and others) be closer to the top. I don’t think RBR are looking for guarantees of anything that doesn’t also help F1 overall, but certainly they are guaranteed Renault pus if it comes to that.

      I don’t think it is apple to apples to bring in Williams or Sauber as a comparison, for we all know that RBR are a very potent team, Championship level, and they are the ones who could actually take a pu and run very strongly with it, and especially in the necessary works environment they’d have if they were able to retain Honda pus. Williams or Sauber arguing that they need a works deal would not carry nearly the same punch as RBR arguing it, for RBR are the ones that pretty much just need a better pu and a few chassis tweaks and they’d be truly a season-long bother to Mercedes. They’ve shown that were others haven’t other than Ferrari for the first halves only of 2017 and 2018. Even in the first halves of those two seasons LH and SV were splitting wins, so Mercedes never had to worry in those years that they didn’t have a winning car from the getgo. Losing Honda does not help F1 in general.

      1. @robbie on the other hand, does it make for “a more competitive series” overall? As noted in the article, from the point of view of Renault and Ferrari, what Red Bull wants could also be locking in a permanent performance advantage for Red Bull over Ferrari and Renault until at least 2026.

        Considering that Red Bull’s deal would be an exclusive one to have those engines for themselves, and with the limits on the number of customers, it basically means you’re telling nearly half the grid that they’re going to have to accept inferior engines for the next 5 years.

        Is there not a risk that such a move could also end up locking in a particular hierarchy of Mercedes and Red Bull at the front, with everyone else left trailing in their wake? Are you necessarily creating “a more competitive series”, or are you potentially placing the importance of Red Bull’s competitiveness over that of the wider series as a whole?

        1. anon As it also says in the article, there are definite questions about when they would freeze what spec of pu, and about a potential balance of performance mechanism such as using fuel flow. I don’t think RBR would think they can get away with locking themselves into an advantage, like Renault and Ferrari would just go along while sitting on their hands, so I’m sure there is much that is complicated about this that has to be sorted, as explained in the article. I highly doubt half the grid is going to accept having inferior engines, and I doubt that is RBR’s ultimate intent, or as I say think they could blatantly get away with that by others voting for it.

          As the article says, something has RBR feeling some degree of confidence that FIA/F1 are for this idea and that is really moreso what I was getting at about competitiveness. Yes the details of this freeze would have to be hammered out, and FIA/F1 would have to be pretty confident that no one team would be about to be handed an unfair advantage or disadvantage, especially for 5 years as you suggest. I don’t thing a big imbalance would happen as I don’t think the teams would vote for the freeze otherwise, and when I speak of competitiveness I mean moreso just from having that 4th pu maker in F1 to help mix things up and keep F1 looking like a viable place for other makers and teams to join, not leave.

          As to competitiveness though in general, what are we talking about here? We’re still in the midst of a 7 likely going on 8 year run of domination from one team. That will be less likely to change if RBR end up with Renault pu’s, so yeah I wouldn’t be surprised at all if FIA/F1 want a more competitive grid knowing that RBR being able to retain Honda pus in more of a works environment, while Renault and Ferrari are protected from a locked in disadvantage, might not be so bad considering the alternative of more and more years of only one team almost always winning.

          Red Bull’s as well as the other teams’ competitiveness are important for the wider series as a whole, and to me the chances of that diminish with Honda gone. No freeze will likely mean no Honda in any form, and Renault and Ferrari continuing to lag behind Mercedes. As the article says, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, other than I would say of course Honda reversing their decision and staying. If RBR have no option but the Renault pus so be it, and let’s hope the revolutionary cars of next year and onward can then shake things up, and perhaps with any luck take some of the dependence on the pu away in favour of a more driver vs driver series.

          Let’s note too, that this is not ideal for RBR either, and they would have been far better off with Honda just staying. And as I have said before I certainly don’t blame RBR for trying everything they can to remain as competitive as they can, for would we expect anything less? But at the same time I’m sure they have no illusions that they can and will manipulate themselves into some kind of advantage over the others, since this all has to be voted on and much is out of their hands, and they won’t be fooling anyone. I’m sure the other teams and their principals, whether they ultimately will agree with this freeze or not, don’t blame RBR for at least trying what they are trying.

          1. @robbie

            As to competitiveness though in general, what are we talking about here? We’re still in the midst of a 7 likely going on 8 year run of domination from one team. That will be less likely to change if RBR end up with Renault pu’s,

            The thing is Merc achieved that by investing developing and fine tuning everything about their team not by attempting to have rules put in place to hold the other teams back. RB have failed to match the Mercs for several seasons now, what’s that say?
            Clearly it says Merc are the better team overall it’s from top to bottom. But instead of excepting that, RB and some of their fans want to see Merc held back and RB given an unfair advantage in the hope they can catch up. This would be the 3rd time RB have attempted to knobble Mercedes through manipulation or vexatious use of the rules.
            F1 is possibly the last form of Motor Racing that allows innovation and superior technical know how to thrive. It’s a competition not just between drivers, engineers strategists team principles are all part of it. RB can get better or get out.

  11. Fine, freeze the engines to benefit RB.

    Also, give McLaren more tokens for this year!

    Oh, and maybe Adrian Newey could be forced to assist Williams?!

    1. I think for Mercedes engines Adrian will be at Williams in a hartbeat!

  12. Anyone know why the broadcast on screen fuel consumption graphic was dropped? Did the manufacturers complain?

    1. @blik I would guess simply due to a lack of interest. Fuel consumption tended to be pretty much even across the board, varying by a percent or two here and there but ultimately showing the information didn’t add anything to the broadcast, so they decided not to show it. If the fuel consumption information had turned out to be relevant to strategy and performance differences then it would’ve been interesting but it didn’t seem to turn out that way.

      1. Pity. I thought it gave a good indication of the ability of ‘that’ engine to efficiently extract power from fuel. Also driver ability to some extent.

    2. Probably because everyone thought it sucked – just like most of the other new graphics.

    3. @blik Others have already answered, but it was relevant at the time as the V6 turbos were fresh back in 2014 but became redundant once they got more mature.

  13. Great article, I have been waiting a long time for a proper explanation of the ‘Freeze’

    Redbull need to learn you can not have your cake & eat it too, if they want to be a big player then they need to develop their own engine like the other big players

    What happens after the freeze when the new regulations kick-in, they will have no choice but to be a customer team again, so it pointless keeping hold of the Honda PU now anyway, it only benefits Redbull in the short term and doesn’t not benefit the sport at all

  14. @the-edge
    “ Redbull need to learn you can not have your cake & eat it too, if they want to be a big player then they need to develop their own engine like the other big players”
    Let’s see:
    Lotus-never developed their own engine
    McLaren-see above.
    Williams-see above.

    So, 3 out of the 5 most successful teams in the history never developed their own engine, how about that?

    What you actually mean is:
    Since of the introduction of the V6 hybrid era in 2014 every independent team got screwed over and now they all of a sudden have to develop their own engine, or choose to be a slave team.

    Red Bull was doing just fine as a customer before the introduction of the worst and most useless engine formula ever.

    1. You clearly misunderstand me, I don’t think RB need to be a manufacture, THEY think they need to be a manufacture

      THEY want their own engine, but THEY don’t want the cost of developing their own engine

      THEY want to play with the big boys, but THEY don’t want the cost that comes with it

      Not my opinion… THEIR opinion

  15. someone or something
    3rd February 2021, 18:54

    That’s a lot of words to dodge around the obvious conclusion:
    The easiest, most straightforward and realistic solution is telling Red Bull to suck it up and go beg chez Renault.
    Re-framing the whole situation as everyone else’s ‘politics’, when the push for an engine freeze with all its implications is in fact pure, condensated politics by the one and basically only entity that stands to benefit from it, is somewhat amusing.

    1. Exactly!

      What is good for Red Bull is good for Red Bull. That’s the important thing.

      /s

  16. This is just another example of RB trying to knobble the Mercedes while preventing Ferrari and Renault from catching them. RB are playing politics but the thing is they’re not Ferrari, they don’t have the political or historical capital to burn. RB have played hard ball with every team on the grid and now they want a favour and are getting nothing but grief. If the freeze gets the nod it will be interesting how they move forward with it, they could end up opening up a Pandora’s box of trouble.
    If not RB will get the Renault PU or leave which will be the best and less messy long term solution?

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