Mattia Binotto, Ferrari Team Principal, Monza, 2022

Binotto: Three power units ‘too few’ for current calendar

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In the round-up: Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says that the current limit of three power units for a season are not enough for the current calendar.

In brief

Binotto: Three power units ‘too few’ for current calendar

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says that the current limit of three power units for a season are not enough for the current calendar.

All drivers are limited to three power units for the 22 race season in 2022. Any driver who exceeds their allocation of components during the season is assessed with a grid penalty. This has led to rounds where almost half of the field have served grid penalties for the same race, such as the most recent race at Monza, where Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jnr was one of eight drivers penalised.

“I think the amount of penalties [at Monza] are too many,” said Binotto. “It’s difficult for a fan, I think, to see a car on pole and not starting on pole because he’s got grid penalties or whatever.

“Maybe the three power units for each driver are too little at that stage for what we have achieved. Maybe we need to reconsider as well for the next season’s.”

The 2023 F1 calendar is expected to feature a record-breaking 24 races.

Alguersuari says Tost ‘hung up’ on him after he was dropped from Red Bull

Biography: Jaime Alguersuari
Former Formula 1 driver Jaime Alguersuari described the difficulty he had coming to terms with his ejection from Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso in 2011, two-and-a-half years after making his debut for them as a teenager.

Speaking to El Confidencial, Alguersuari said he was stunned to learn he had been dropped the day after attending a sponsor event. “Franz Tost called me the day after the Cepsa event at eight in the morning to tell us that Red Bull couldn’t help us anymore and that he had bad news,” said Alguersuari. “And he hung up on me. Because I guess he didn’t want to talk to me.”

He raised the matter with Red Bull’s motorsport consultant Helmut Marko. “I pick up the phone, and I call directly to Helmut Marko. ‘This is a joke?’. ‘You already found out, right?’ ‘What’s this about, Helmut?’ And he tells me: ‘I couldn’t do anything.'”

Alguersuari said he still feels affected by his experience. “At Red Bull, in Formula 1, you didn’t live in peace, even with great results,” he said. “You did a great job and you never left feeling like the job was done and everyone is happy. Your rivals congratulated you more than the people on your team.

“And you’ve lived that feeling since you were fifteen. Nothing was ever enough. And if you look, it’s Max Verstappen’s pattern with his father. That is the Red Bull school, the one I lived through.”

Post-season Formula 3 test drivers announced

Two FIA Formula 3 teams have confirmed the batch of drivers set to take part for them in this week’s post-season test.

The three-day test will be held between Wednesday 21st and Friday 23rd at the Jerez circuit in Spain. Jenzer Motorsport have announced that Euroformula Open driver Alex Garcia and F4 racers Nikita Bedrin and Taylor Barnard will test for the team. Meanwhile, the Charouz team will run Alessandro Formularo – who raced the final F3 round at Monza with the team – along with Formula Regional drivers Nicola Marinangeli and Matias Zagazeta and F4 driver Emerson Fittipaldi Jnr.

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Comment of the day

Can eligibility for racing in Formula 1 be boiled down to a mathematical formula based on a driver’s results in junior categories? Reader AlanD believes that the current restrictions are too rigid.

I also think it reasonable for F1 to say that drivers must have an appropriate amount of single-seater open-wheel racing experience to qualify but it is how you measure that experience which is the problem. It isn’t as if drivers can pick and choose which series to race in, or which cars to drive, they can’t do extra hours in their spare time to qualify. Herta has a ton of experience driving in Indy, he has learnt all the basic skills needed for the open-wheel format, but not had the car under him to get the superlicense points. People here are saying that he only finished 10th last season, as if that validates the FIA rules. It doesn’t.

F1 drivers who have gone to Indy have not blown the field away. Takumo Sato, seven years in F1, drove for Jordan, BAR, SuperAguri, has spent 13 years in indy, best championship position 7th, most years well ouside the top 10. Jean Alesi, disqualified from the indy 500 for lapping so slowly he was considered a safety hazard. Stefan Johannsen drove for McLaren and Ferrari, went to indycar and never won a race in four seasons. Nelson Piquet, destroyed his indycar in the wall when trying to get into the pit lane. So if Sato etc were considered good enough for F1, how can you possibly block drivers like Herta?

I feel that provided a driver has an appropriate amount of experience and maturity, and is seen to be competitive, it should be up to teams to decide if they want that driver in there car, not for the FIA to decide who has driven the right sort of races according to their algorithm.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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24 comments on “Binotto: Three power units ‘too few’ for current calendar”

  1. Agree with COTD

    I guess if you are trying to ensure that drivers that get to F1 have enough skill and experience (which seems sensible), then I think the Herta situation highlights a flaw in the points allocation and (perhaps intentionally) an underrating of IndyCar.

    Context is everything. Indy has some differences to F2, F3, sure, but a big one when we are considering driver capability is that it’s a destination series, where drivers have careers, and the champion returns. To win, to finish at the sharp end, you have done very well.

    How many champions has Indy had the last 10 years? 5. Power, Palou, Dixon, Newgarden and Pagenaud. All from either Penske or Ganassi (5 each). Herta’s team, Andretti, has fluked one championship in 15 years. F2, will have 10 champions every 10 years, with other top finishers not returning. F2 might be where the standout talent seeks it’s pathway, Russell, Norris, LeClerc, etc, but the depth of talent and experience is not there compared to Indy. To finish top 6-8-10 in Indy, against experienced, returning, career competitors seems a bigger achievement than doing the same in F2.

    And to win 7 road-street course races over 4 years, for Andretti, against Penske and Ganassi, is no mean feat. One could be a bit of a fluke, but not 7. In his four years, he’s won 7 races, the rest of Andretti 3 (I think).

    For me, this passes the skill and experience requirement. The teams can then work out if they think he’s the driver for them.

  2. Binotto is making the point he wants to make, however what we trully saw at Monza was a form penalty exploitation, teams at the back have always taken advantage of the fact they cannot serve the penalty however some teams took pu elements so they can push for better results on other GPs that suit their cars, hoping to catch rivals out, the second form of manipulation is down to the fact that after your first 10 place engine penalty the subsequent penalties are 5 places only, which led to RB strategically electing not to risk reliability, boost allocation for other GPs and take advantage of a strong and easy to pass track for them to still take a max result. We might very well see RB take a single 5 place for other pu elements at other venues, phasing out throughout the season.

  3. 3 power units or 5 power units, doesn’t really make a difference. The teams will still design their power units to last just as long as they need it to and not a race more. If it makes sense to take a penalty for a race where they can gain that advantage of having an extra fresh engine then they will do it.

    Change the penalty to; if a car goes over its allocated number of engines then it can only earn half of it’s championship points and see how it changes things… Or if that’s “unfair” because engines can be damaged outside of the driver/teams control, then revisit whether the number of engines should be limited at all.

    1. I beg to differ, if you have such a short amount of available power units the weight of unforeseen special events like crashes increases by quite a lot.

  4. Three engines allocation is just perfect. But the penalties should’ve been exponential. 4 for the first extra, 8 for the second one, 16 for the third. I think it’s unfair for other team if Max change engine at every last remaining race and only got 5 grid penalty each. Red Bull engine development would be benefit enormously and Max still win WDC doing that.

    1. @ruliemaulana Max will & would win the WDC in any case, so unimpactful in this regard.

    2. I don’t think Red Bull engine development is aided by Max taking a new engine. I thought the engine designs were locked in at the start of the season so they wouldn’t be allowed to test any new designs at a grand prix weekend.

  5. With regards to the COTD, the use of Alesi as an example for IndyCar doesn’t really seem appropriate because it ignores the fact that Alesi’s car had the Lotus-Judd engine for his 2012 effort – an engine that was notoriously underdeveloped and underpowered, to the point where the IndyCar authorities gave them special dispensation to undertake additional development during the season to try and make it vaguely competitive (which didn’t really work due to the project being underfunded).

  6. Regarding CotD

    I have had thoughts about this stuff in the back of my head over the last few days, and there are many aspects to consider. So before we can create an algorithm we, or F1/FIA, have to decide what it should look for. Although I kind of agree that it should be up to the teams to choose whichever driver they want, in reality that would likely result in more “pay drivers” – with all sorts of treats that we don’t want to see in F1. Drivers that are too slow, don’t respect rules, or are outright incapable of racing safely in high performance machinery for example.

    In a nutshell, I think we want the system to reject any drivers that are too slow or too dangerous, whether that be due to inexperience or personal traits. We want the few available slots to be given to the best out there. So by that metric, to get a SuperLicense a driver would have to prove that they can be fully in control of a high performance car, race safely and fairly among others on track, and be “fast”.

    The first two of those can pretty much be proven by competing a couple of seasons or so in any somewhat prominent racing series, right? You don’t have to be champion to prove that you are not an absolute hooligan on a racetrack amongst other people. Experience will be gained with or without winning. Some, if not most, will even learn more by failing I think. But regarding the last point, how fast is fast? Sure, if you win a championship, like the current SuperLicense points system emphasizes, that is relatively straight-forward. You don’t do that by being slow. But you could be a super talent and NOT win or place well in a championship for endless reasons – anything from not having the right budget or equipment to just bad luck or mechanical reliability.

    The more I have thought about it, proving that you are fast enough for F1 probably is not about consistently scoring well towards a championship, that can be taught later. But if you win a couple of races (under normal circumstances), and regularly take part in fights for front positions (even if you fail to score them), surely you can’t be a “slow” driver. Especially if a F1 team wants you.

    I do believe there have be some sort of algorithm. I generally dislike competitions based on scores handed out arbitrarily by individuals judging by their feelings. That is never fair. But for an algorithm to work in this case, it would have to look in more detail. What lead to the end result? Not just what the end result is.

    1. COTD may have a point but I am not sure if Sato is the best example: he is two time Indy500 champion.

      1. It is misleading to call Takuma Sato a two-time champion. He is a two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 race, not a two-time champion of the Indycar series. He has won a total of six races over the course of 13 years in Indycar.

  7. No, increasing the PU element allocation upper limit would contract the sustainability approach & besides, teams would continue gaming the system nevertheless & by using more components, so giving more leeway would be a wrong solution.

    COTD’s idea of basing SL-eligibility on single-seater racing experience rather than a points system is interesting & good.

    1. Contradict, I should’ve noted sooner.

  8. I understand Jaime Alguersuari feels a bit hard done by, but please think of the Ferrari Power units knowing there are five others ready to replace them.

  9. I can’t understand why the FIA has allowed teams to game the system.

    Teams have an allocation. If they break their PU’s then maybe they just have to run a damaged one on a lower power rating. End of story.

    This “ we’ll take a penalty to introduce a fresh PU” only favours the teams with big budgets that have the pace to work through the field using DRS whilst being allowed through with little or no effort by the midfield.

    Imagine how much better it would be if RBR, Ferrari and Mercedes all had to “just make do” with their initial allocation.

  10. Regarding the number of engines – there’s a very strong and valid argument that the number engines is not the problem at all. The ‘problem’ is how F1/FIA allows teams to approach the rules.
    Give them 3, they take 4 or 5. Give them 5, they’ll take 6 or 7. Give them 7, they’ll use 8 or 9.
    While there’s a significant benefit and insufficient penalty/deterrent, they’ll just keep playing the rules.

    CotD is overthinking it.
    This isn’t athletics where you race the clock without any mechanical assistance whatsoever. In motorsport, there is no static target to measure against and all results are machinery-dependent.
    The current super licence system is fine. You want to be in F1, it’s perfectly plausible to do at least one year in F1’s junior categories (F2/F3) as you’ll not just earn more licence points, you’ll also be learning the tracks, tyres, team managers, personnel, sponsors, media and all the other factors associated with being in F1…… It massively works to both the driver’s and team’s benefit to do so.

    Picking drivers out of Indycar and suddenly plonking them in F1 cars on F1 tracks and their ‘unique’ environments is only ever going to put them at a disadvantage – which is a big part of why it’s never worked in the modern era.
    The talent and skills are there, but the familiarity isn’t.

    1. Agree they’d always take 1-2 more than the limit, and the problem is penalties are not sufficient, they only really make an impact for the midfield teams: backmarkers have basically no penalty, with a brand new engine they can easily get back where they would’ve been if they only lose 2 places or so and top teams can’t necessarily fight for the win but for the podium and in general it pays off within the next few races to get a new engine for them.

  11. Always reading about Ferrari’s toxic environment… only to bump into this:

    “At Red Bull, in Formula 1, you didn’t live in peace, even with great results,” he said. “You did a great job and you never left feeling like the job was done and everyone is happy. Your rivals congratulated you more than the people on your team.

    “And you’ve lived that feeling since you were fifteen. Nothing was ever enough. And if you look, it’s Max Verstappen’s pattern with his father. That is the Red Bull school, the one I lived through.”

    1. @mg1982 any possibility that you could link back to where that information came from?

  12. Ferrari decided to go for performance and then had to work out the reliability aspect allowed by the rules. Somewhat self inflicted.

    1. I actually think Honda and Ferrari have both tried to get a march with an aggressive engine strategy but he’s not wrong that 3 engines seems a little hard to achieve now. If nobody manages to finish the season using only 3 engines then I think it’s worth looking at increasing the pool by one for next year.

      1. They only fail to manage because they never intended to use only three engines. Most F1 cars are so bad (relatively speaking) that the top teams can take a penalty, start pretty much wherever, and still end up on the podium – or even win. Same with the two midfield teams McLaren and Alpine being able to get back into the points, and all the backmarker teams barely even notice the grid penalty as the difference to their usual starting positions is rather small.

        If there were real penalties to using more engines, the teams would suddenly find it much easier to handle the limit.

      2. If nobody manages to finish the season using only 3 engines then…

        …They all deserved their penalties.

        The rules say 3, stick to 3.
        The point is that nobody at the front of the pack wants to stick to that rule, just as they all resisted track limits rules for so long too.

  13. I do believe most teams could do the season on just 3 power units, but they’ve obviously figured out that the performance advantage from having more fresh components is worth the occasional grid penalty. The grid penalties alone are obviously not a big enough disincentive, and a good one is needed to keep costs down.

    I reckon instead of 5-place penalties, knock 5 million off their budget cap allowance for every new component. The big teams were collectively wetting themselves over the budget cap before, so why not punish them in a way they really will care about?

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