Pierre Gasly, Alpine, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023

FIA to examine how to equalise engine performance after Alpine request

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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The FIA has agreed to consider a request by Alpine to equalise the performance between the four Formula 1 power units, due to its deficit to its rivals.

Alpine is the only team which uses Renault power. A development freeze was introduced last year, preventing manufacturers from changing their engines for reasons other than to address reliability problems.

However Alpine claims their units are not on a par with their rivals’ motors, and have pushed for their performance to be equalised. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, whose team used Renault engines until 2018, said last week he was open to considering equalisation.

Following a meeting of the F1 Commission today, the FIA confirmed one manufacturer is at a noticeable clear deficit to their rivals and it will look into how their performance might be adjusted.

“At the start of this regulations cycle it was agreed with the power unit manufacturers that there would be a possibility for adjustment of PU performance from 2023 onwards in order to avoid a significant performance difference being locked in for an extended period,” it said.

“The FIA has been analysing the PU performance of the cars during the first half of 2023, and concluded that there is one such notable performance gap between competitors. On the basis of the commitment of the PU manufacturers, and of the performance differences reported above, the F1 Commission discussed ways to remedy this discrepancy.

“The Power Unit Manufacturers represented at the commission agreed to give a mandate to the Power Unit Advisory Committee to consider this topic and bring proposals back to the commission.”

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Otmar Szafnauer, whose departure from Alpine as team principal was confirmed earlier today, said last week that Renault’s power unit is at a considerable disadvantage to that of other teams. “All the teams do the same analysis and the FIA do the same analysis and we are significantly down,” he said.

However Bruno Famin, who has taken over as interim team principal following Szafnauer’s ousting, played down the scale of their deficit today. “I don’t think it’s so ‘down’,” he said. “It’s down, it’s not the best engine of the grid, for sure.

“We made huge steps between ’21 and ’22 but still not the best engine. The FIA put the topic on the table because I understand there was a kind of agreement when the engine freeze have been decided, the FIA put the topic on the table and that’s it.”

He believes the team can make some improvements to its performance by integrating the power unit more effectively with the chassis.

“I don’t think the engine, the power train, is so down that we cannot improve the package,” said Famin. “The goal is really to improve our package, the chances, the engines which is a bit difficult in frozen times, for sure, but integration can always be improved and this is what we’re going to do.”

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2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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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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13 comments on “FIA to examine how to equalise engine performance after Alpine request”

  1. Easy – lift the development freeze.

  2. Why should engine alone be equalized? Why not aero also be equalized?

    Ferrari might want strategy also to be equalized. :)

    1. Pirelli tried that a few years ago by taking a leaf out of Michelin’s ‘How to Indy’ book and stating they’d only guarantee their tyres for X-number of laps and ‘recommended’ a specific pit stop strategy. People didn’t like it back then, but perhaps the sentiment has changed.

    2. Ahah, all drivers are now obligated to pit on lap 20 and 50 and will have to start on medium, then switch to hard, then soft tyres (example)!

      Then ferrari can’t get it wrong… hopefully.

  3. I dunno….. if one manufacturer has a massive advantage and ultimately decides who could use that power train, then I could see argument for equalisation.

    But they’ve had plenty of experience of these regs (as much as any other PU manufacturer). And everyone else is roughly at the same place.

    Whatever happens, this isn’t a good look for them. Sack everyone at the top and then complain it’s not fair we’re not competitive. It’s not like they’re the slowest and they’re not a customer.

  4. This is all become Redbull cried and threatened to quit when Honda couldn’t make their minds up whether they wanted to be in F1 or not

    Shoulda just called RBs bluff, plenty of buyers around if it turned out they weren’t just playing poker

  5. Lets just call it F2+

  6. Just call it what it is: Balance of Performance.

    It’s the future of motorsport. Spec series are great for real racing teams, Balance of Performance is how manufacturers will want to participate as their core business changes away from anything to do with motorsport.

    1. Balance of performance is one of the worst gimmicks to ever be introduced to fix the results.

      It’s a joke and has made a mockery of sportscar racing which is part of why that category is way less popular than it was pre BOP. People can see it for what it is, Manipulation.

      Only reason manufacturers like it is because it removes the risk of them getting it wrong as even if they do (As Renault/Alpine have in this case) they can just be granted an opportunity to catch up while those who actually did a better job can do nothing.

      It’s a complete joke and the opposite of what the sport, Especially F1 should be about.

      It’s also something that every poll and survey that F1 have conducted has said that a vast majority of F1 fans don’t like and don’t want to see introduced so all these freezes, equalisation and BOP nonsense are things that are going against there own fanbase.

      Every category that does this stuff tends to shrink rather than grow and the same will prove true with F1.

  7. Is this F1 or a spec series?

  8. The engine freeze needs to be rescinded. I can’t imagine Renault suddenly discovering they have an even better engine sitting on some shelf at the back of a warehouse, but that’s Renault’s problem. Honda went from being the laughing stock to the envy of the pitlane, and Renault have been racing engines made to the current specification longer than Honda have.

  9. Renault have made an art form out of delivering a pretty poor engine. Even back in the v8 era, it had less power than its rivals, but RBR’s development and aero expertise kept it at the front.

    From 2014 onwards they’ve been frankly atrocious.

    Rather than beg for a change to the rules, perhaps they should just leave given their either lack of competence or complete lack of interest.

  10. If there is nothing to be gained from building a better engine, then why bother innovating?

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