Ferrari seek thaw on engine freeze
An underperforming Scuderia are leading the charge to relax restrictions on engine development – but not everyone agrees
Ferrari are pushing for a relaxation of rules governing F1 engine development. Team principal Marco Mattiacci has criticised the strictures introduced with the new turbo hybrid engine formula, which forbid in-season development and specify limits on upgrades, with increasing restrictions placed on the areas in which teams can introduce change.
The issue has arisen as a result of Ferrari’s failure to produce a competitive power unit this season. One of the ideas proposed by Ferrari is to allow an extension on development into the early stages of the season.
“We’ve never worked from tactical angles saying: ‘Let’s do this softening of the rules so we can catch Mercedes,’” Mattiacci said. “The starting point was that in F1, I cannot wait one year to work on the engine. We do not believe this is a magic bullet. It’s a way to talk about innovating and to keep working on the car.” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he was conicted about the idea. “It’s about dening what we want to do,” he said. “Obviously we have a competitive advantage but we would take the challenge on. Is it the time to change the rules to change something? Maybe.”
But Wolff also admitted he was in favour of rules stability and warned that any relaxation of the engine freeze would incur a rise in costs.
Mattiacci took a hardline stance on this at a recent team bosses’ meeting. He responded to claims that an engine freeze would increase costs for the struggling smaller teams by saying that Ferrari’s engines were effectively free as they had not received any money from either Marussia or Sauber this year.
He was exaggerating for effect, for while both teams may have fallen behind with payments, they have each paid Ferrari at least some of their engine dues this season.
Renault, meanwhile, have warned that allowing more room for development was no guarantee that manufacturers who are behind would necessarily catch Mercedes – who would obviously also be free to develop their engine. Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul said he wanted rules that ensured the engines were as close together in performance as possible while keeping costs under control.
“There is the law of diminishing returns, which means that after some time Mercedes will be limited, and at that point in time we will be in a position to catch up,” said Abiteboul. However, I am not sure how far we are from the physical limit of the system. “Depending on how far away we are, we may even be in a worse position with that additional unfreeze than with the current freeze.”
Renault and Ferrari engines are lagging behind the dominant Mercedes power units