Formula One Bosses Agree To New Set Of Cost-Cutting Regulations
Formula 1 bosses have agreed to a set of rules until '20 "aimed at reducing the cost of engines and ensuring their performance converges," according to Andrew Benson of the BBC. The move "follows months of talks in the wake of concerns about the expense, complexity and sound of the hybrid engines, and Mercedes' dominance of F1." Costs "for customer teams will reduce" by €1M ($1.15M) in '17 and a further €3M ($3.4M) in '18. And the four manufacturers have agreed to "a package of measures aimed at bringing engines' performance closer together." Ways in which F1 "hopes to ensure the convergence of performance across the four suppliers include the removal of restrictions on development and constraints on the weights, dimensions and materials of various parts of the engines." In addition, "restrictions on turbo-boost pressure" will be introduced in '17 and '18 (BBC, 4/29). REUTERS' Alan Baldwin reported the FIA said that "there would be an obligation to supply all teams, a bone of contention last year when Mercedes, Ferrari and Honda all ruled out providing engines to rivals Red Bull after that team fell out with Renault." Red Bull is "now using Renault units with Tag Heuer branding." Measures to "reduce the performance gap," with Mercedes dominant since '14 and newest arrivals Honda still some way off the pace, would include the removal of a system of "tokens" limiting development during the season (REUTERS, 4/29).
COMMITMENT REQUIRED: SKY SPORTS' William Esler reported the agreement also requires the FIA to "commit to supporting power unit regulations stability," ruling out any chance of FIA President Jean Todt and F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone being able to "push through a cheaper alternative engine" proposed in late '15 (SKY SPORTS, 4/29). In N.Y., Brad Spurgeon wrote some "have noted that any overhaul of the regulations gives an advantage to the bigger teams, since a big, rich team can spend more money and devote more resources to exploiting a new set of rules than a small, lower-budget team." Felipe Nasr, a driver at the "financially struggling Sauber team," said on Thursday that a "new batch of regulations only added to the problems for his team" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/29).
CLASSIC BERNIE: In London, Giles Richards reported Ecclestone has warned that the new regulations set to be implemented in '17 may be "torn up" should they not work as hoped in producing better racing. Ecclestone "stressed the key part of the new rules was ensuring a convergence in engine power and that the customer engines matched those of the manufacturers." Should that not be the case, he warned, "That will all be torn up and we will start again with a new set of regulations, where the engines might be easier." Ecclestone, in fact, "has no power to independently rewrite the regulations," with any changes required to be agreed to by the FIA, Formula One Management, the F1 strategy group, the F1 commission and the World Motor Sport Council (GUARDIAN, 5/1).
COCKPIT PROTECTION: In a separate piece, Benson reported Formula 1 bosses have set a deadline of July 1 "for a decision on the introduction of cockpit head protection" for the '17 season. FIA F1 Dir Charlie Whiting said, "It would be unreasonable if we didn't have a clear path by that time." The "aeroscreen" tested by Red Bull on Friday and the "halo" run by Ferrari pre-season are concepts in contention. The July 1 deadline is "to ensure teams have sufficent time to incorporate the design" in their '17 cars (BBC, 5/1). MOTORSPORT's Adam Cooper reported Ecclestone "made it clear that he is not a fan of the Red Bull aeroscreen." He said, "We're going to get a lot of pitstops now when they have to stop to clean the screen and things. That will be good." Asked if he "liked the look of it or preferred the Halo," he said, "Not particularly. I don't like any of them." He added that the sport should do "nothing" with regard to cockpit protection. Quizzed on Lewis Hamilton's suggestion that danger was "part of the appeal" of the sport, Eccelstone said, "We can make it more dangerous if he wants" (MOTORSPORT, 5/1).