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F1 teams have informal agreement to ensure all engines are competitive – Horner

2022 F1 season

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Formula 1 teams have an informal agreement to ensure no power unit manufacturer is disadvantaged by the incoming freeze on development, according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

The sport’s governing body confirmed last week power unit development will be frozen from the beginning of the 2022 F1 season. Red Bull, which will take over the production of Honda’s power units after the Japanese manufacturer leaves the sport, had lobbied for a performance balancing mechanism as part of the freeze to level the playing field.

While no such formal provision has been agreed in the regulations, Horner says F1’s manufacturers have informally agreed to ensure no one is left at a major disadvantage.

“Whilst there isn’t anything within the regulations there is an agreement between the teams or manufacturers that each have supported to the FIA to address it in the event that a manufacturer is out of kilter,” said Horner.

“So there is effectively an undertaking by each of the manufacturers to address it should it arise, whilst it’s not within the regulations.”

Horner indicated the agreement of the teams will be required to introduce any methods to adjust the performance of the different power units.

“It’s not as ideal as a regulation but I think it gives the FIA the necessary empowerment to bring the parties to the table,” he said. “I think that’s important and I think there is a clear understanding, particularly from within the top level of each of the OEMs.

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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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  • 28 comments on “F1 teams have informal agreement to ensure all engines are competitive – Horner”

    1. Another funny F1 joke.
      As if someone won’t say “But we didn’t agree to that…” when something does come up.

      Seems more than a bit like the informal Japanese car manufacturer’s ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that no car will produce more than 276hp – that none of them have ever actually stuck to.

      Seriously, F1 – it’s time to boot the manufacturers and teams out of the decision making process. Listen to them, by all means, by don’t give them the power to actually make changes.

      1. There has been a clear change to the sport since Brawn took over for Bernie in matters like these where cooperation for the health of the sport seems way more important than just the individual interests. That’s not to say those don’t exist and play a role, but they certainly seem way more diminished than they ever were in the past few decades of the sport.

        1. I’d say the opposite.
          I think inviting the teams into the decision making process is giving them much more power to push their own barrow.
          It’s allowing the teams to get more of what they want individually, at the expense of F1 as a whole.
          The best person to make any decision is the one who is completely impartial and doesn’t stand to gain anything from it.

          1. Show me a benevolent dictator and I’ll show you a dictator.

            1. I was thinking more along the lines of a Judge.

              Anyway – Good or bad, F1 exists today because of a dictator.

            2. S, is it really the case that “F1 exists today because of a dictator”, or is it rather more accurate to say that F1 exists in its current form because of a dictator? There is a considerable difference between the two.

          2. S I’m surprised how much you have missed what has been going on since Liberty took over, that being an overall co-operation with the teams and eventual agreement from them via their signing of the latest Concorde Agreement, and an obvious unanimous decision to freeze the engines. To me that unanimous agreement, especially without a balance of power type concept decided, indicates that the teams are likely quite confident that by the time the engines are frozen the pus will likely all be pretty close to each other. But to cover themselves they have of course discussed the possibility of something needing to be done, and by all accounts they are all on board with a detail like this, or there would not have been the unanimous decision there was, or at least perhaps it’s safe to say some wouldn’t have agreed until they indeed hammered out and put on paper something formal. That they haven’t felt the need to is to me a great sign of health and co-operation amongst the F1 teams. You talk like this is still the BE era and it simply is not, thank goodness. I would think that if they don’t have to resort to a balance of power concept then that should please most fans for there not being that gadget or artificial element involved, the type of which so many so decry.

            1. @robbie I haven’t missed anything – I’m simply not drinking the kool-aid coming out of F1.
              I don’t think it is all flowery and perfect that the teams have so much power to decide the regs – they are in it to make money, yet I watch because I want it to be entertaining and the toughest challenge available in motorsport. We want different things.

            2. S

              I think inviting the teams into the decision making process is giving them much more power to push their own barrow.
              It’s allowing the teams to get more of what they want individually, at the expense of F1 as a whole.
              The best person to make any decision is the one who is completely impartial and doesn’t stand to gain anything from it.

              I don’t disagree with what you have said here, but you seem to have missed that this is exactly what Brawn appreciated when he started negotiations with the teams about F1’s future under Liberty, within very early days of them having taken over.

              Brawn wanted to and had to take a much more diplomatic approach with all the teams as opposed to BE giving the power to the top 4 teams to placate them over the CVC money grab. So he spoke to all the teams about their individual needs and wants and in interviews with Brawn about that he spoke of how he appreciated that all teams would try to get everything they possibly could that would favour them, for he’s been there and done that himself, but that it would be a negotiation and there would have to be compromises. And that is exactly what happened and here we are with everyone having signed off. Everyone completely entirely happy? Everyone get everything they wanted? Of course not. That would be impossible. And undesirable. And unsustainable.

              The fact is they did all negotiate and compromise for the greater good for F1, just as they have done again with unanimous agreement to the engine freeze. And it was all overseen by impartial Brawn. And as I have said elsewhere I think this informal agreement is exactly a sign of how healthy F1 is right now and how the teams are able to get along for the greater good.

              So I’m not sure where all this alleged power is that the teams have, but I would say at least it is all the teams together, and the voting also includes F1, FIA, and the pu makers, along with the teams, ie. inclusive across the board, and I’m not sure what power it is you think the teams have that will take away from the product. Brawn has done exactly as you would prefer and not given any one team too much power, but he did give all the teams the power to help shape the future of F1. He was only ever hoping to have willing participants, stoked about F1’s new direction. I think he has succeeded massively given the huge hurdles they inherited from the BE days where they did it exactly the way you decry now.

            3. @robbie The teams haven’t compromised for the greater good of F1 – they’ve compromised for the good of themselves. As a result, F1 is compromised.
              Where are all the other manufacturers? Why haven’t any entered? Why don’t they want to enter? The decisions and the rules still favour those who are already in the game.
              That’s not growth or progress, that’s just basic survival, and building a wall around itself to prevent further erosion and atrophy in the short term.
              I’ll admit that I thought Liberty’s takeover would bring good things to F1 – but they don’t seem to be interested in making it any better. I’ve never read or heard so many complaints about what F1 is or the direction it is headed than now.

              As I said – I don’t want what the current F1 teams want. But they are the ones who are winning with this Liberty ownership.

    2. I can’t see this ending well…….

      1. Always fun enforcing any “informal agreements” in F1, right @beransaurus!

        Surely Horner and Marko will be happy to find a way to help say Renault, or Ferrari when it turns out that end of the season those power units are somewhat behind!

    3. Will the agreement be informally enforced?

    4. Hahaha, I would love to see if Toto could keep a straight face while “informally agreeing” to this.

    5. My favourite informal agreements were the ones just before Budkowski and Mekies were hired.

    6. Sounds like Red Bull wants a spec series, unless of course they are ahead.

      1. They’ll never want a series with chassis specs.. but what they have no expertise in.. should obviously be made a spec for the entire grid.

        1. It’s always one of those awkward things in F1 which makes it effectively a multi-class series. They should have separate titles for Class 1 (chassis and engine builders) and Class 2 (chassis builders).

          Whilst you try and squeeze them into one category, you’ll always have a conflict between manufacturers who supply engines and the other teams. If F1 is about building the best engine, they should all build engines. If it’s not about that and it’s instead about building the best car, you shouldn’t have teams struggling because of a weaker engine.

          The same applies to any parts (including, for example, fuels) that some teams have access to and others don’t so Red Bull aren’t in the clear here.

          F1 shouldn’t be a spec series – it should be the opposite of that. The teams should all have an equal opportunity to build the best car and whoever does that wins. At the moment they don’t. Some get sent drawings of other cars to copy…. Some get access to better parts to use to build their car… It actually takes away from what F1 should be where we see a fair competition of who can build the fastest car under a set of regulations.

          1. Agree on all points. Teams should be free build on any component of their car to have an advantage. The only way the racing can still be interesting for viewers is if the budget cap is implemented well, and teams have to choose their key focus areas.. be it engine, aero, suspension, etc.

    7. Wow, won’t be long before Christian’s telling us there’s such a thing as ‘In the spirit of the regulations’ in the technical regs soon :-)

    8. If such an agreement was made, I’d assume it is more to prevent one manufacturer being locked in as hopelessly uncompetitive, rather than helping them to fully catch up or surpass the existing leaders. So if after the development freeze one manufacturer was found to be say 50Hp away from the leading manufacturer, they would be granted some leeway to close up to an extent, but not so much that they could match them. I doubt Mercedes would agree to allowing other manufacturers to develop if they posed any actual competitive threat.

      That, or Horner is completely mischaracterising some conversations so that he can complain when no such agreement materialises.

      1. You are saying that Horner/Marko will be fine helping Ferrari out if it turns out the Scuderia were not able to bridge the gap by the end of the year @keithedin? I think in such a case they will rather be pointing out that there is nothing on paper that forces them to do so!

        1. @bascb Maybe they are just more focussed on catching Mercedes and are not too worried about Ferrari right now. As such, they may be willing to gamble on an agreement which would possibly help them close in on Mercedes even if it allows Ferrari to do the same. But as you say, if there is nothing on paper then I don’t know how any party could seek any recourse if one or more parties choose not to honour it.

    9. Again just confirms that they are turning F1 into Indycar+. Engine freezes & performance parity have no place in F1.

      F1 should be about pushing the limits of performance & development with each team & engine supplier constantly developing there product to maximise performance to beat the other teams by as big a as possible. That is what F1, What the sport is about.

      If you want equality/performance parity where nobody is able to find any significant advantage for ‘the show’ then go watch a spec series & leave F1 to those who actually understand & appreciate what it’s meant to be.

      1. +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 (hey look, my keyboard got stuck)

        Or you could move over to a non-motor sport like soapbox car racing: no engines, no tyre saving, it really is all about the chassis and the driver.

      2. @roger-ayles I get that argument, but it is what got F1 into the unsustainable zone, however. I share some of that frustration, but I also believe they are doing what they have to do for now, to right the ship. I hope there comes a time when they can open things up a bit more. But for now, since they have all done their discussions and negotiations and have signed off on this next chapter, I’m going to trust that they have not all ‘forgotten what it’s meant to be.’

        I suggest that come 2025 they will be back to having their freedom with the next pu. For now I think this freeze, that they have unanimously agreed to, makes sense ALL things considered, not just innovation. Honda leaving a hole would not have been good for F1 overall. Nor RBR with the Renault pu. We’re going into year two of a pandemic so revenues are down for all in F1 bigtime. Talks on the next pu format will begin soon and it is hoped new entrants will like what they say. And it would probably help if they don’t continue to see extra millions upon millions needing to be spent over the next few years, chasing a pu that will soon be set aside. Existing makers I’m sure will be glad to save the money as they prepare for the next gen of cars and then the next gen of pus ahead of 2025.

        As to what it is meant to be. I think that is many things, to many people, and certainly we are soon going to be potentially witnessing drivers vs drivers like we haven’t seen in decades, if they have their way. I’ll take that kind of innovation any day, and I would have thought you would too, given that I’m sure you must understand the financial realities of the times.

        But they should be able to innovate all they want within their budgets? Yeah, that sounds like a no-brainer to say, but I suggest that just had not been the way they have collectively agreed was correct for now. Or they’d do that. I don’t believe anybody inside F1 has any interest in forgetting their version of how it should be. They have to consider ALL things. And I’m pleased with what they have considered, especially with the car philosophy, as I think that will be a great jumping off point for them to have a better product on the track, a growing entity, and with any luck enough abundance that they get back to a level of more innovation freedom again. For now I’m chuffed that they have innovated their way towards sustainability.

      3. @roger-ayles @robbie I still like the idea of the spending cap with more open regulations.

        As I said in relation to another topic a week or 2 ago regarding CART & the current version of Indycar. Going back & watching older footage & seeing a bunch of very different looking cars as well as having a dozen very different sounding engines from the different engines configurations made things a lot more interesting.

        And I know we will likely never go back to say the 70s/80s when cars could look radically different from each other; But just enough freedom to allow teams to try ideas that give more variation than we’ve had more recently would add that bit of extra colour which would help make things look more interesting.

        That’s actually the one thing I did really like about the aero changes in 2014 that introduced the finger noses. For as ugly as many thought those were, The fact each team went in different directions at least gave us some very different looking designs.

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