En­gine de­vel­op­ment lim­its to be scrapped

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

To­ken sys­tem will be axed to help lag­ging man­u­fac­tur­ers catch up, but fuel ef­fi­ciency will re­main a pri­or­ity

For­mula 1 bosses have agreed to end re­stric­tions on en­gine de­vel­op­ment in an at­tempt to make the sport more com­pet­i­tive. The move to aban­don the con­tro­ver­sial ‘to­ken’ sys­tem has yet to be of­fi­cially rat­i­fied, but high-level sources say that there is un­likely to be any at­tempt to block it, since all the en­gine man­u­fac­tur­ers have now agreed to it.

Un­der the cur­rent reg­u­la­tions the var­i­ous parts of the en­gine carry ‘to­ken’ val­ues, de­pend­ing on their ef­fect on per­for­mance, and man­u­fac­tur­ers can de­velop up to a max­i­mum limit of to­kens – with the num­ber per­mit­ted re­duc­ing each year. But the sys­tem has been crit­i­cised for be­ing overly com­pli­cated and for hav­ing the po­ten­tial to per­ma­nently en­shrine per­for­mance dis­par­i­ties.

The the­ory be­hind ax­ing the to­ken sys­tem, is that by free­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers to de­velop their en­gines in any way in which they see fit, the per­for­mance of the var­i­ous power units should even­tu­ally con­verge. The ban on in-sea­son de­vel­op­ment has al­ready been lifted for 2016 – just as it was for 2015 – and the num­ber of to­kens has been raised from 25 to 32, the same as the three man­u­fac­tur­ers who com­peted in 2014 were al­lowed last year.

Aban­don­ing the to­ken sys­tem al­to­gether is an at­tempt to give Re­nault and Honda the chance to catch up with Mercedes and Fer­rari. All in­volved agree that it is bad for F1 to have two such large man­u­fac­tur­ers strug­gling for com­pet­i­tive­ness.

But Red Bull de­sign chief Adrian Newey has crit­i­cised the move, say­ing it will lead to a “spend­ing frenzy” and that the “gaps will get big­ger not smaller”.

Newey, whose views may be rooted in a con­cern that Red Bull’s route back to com­pet­i­tive­ness is look­ing in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult with­out a works en­gine part­ner­ship, says that pre­vi­ously the agree­ment had been that the en­gines would be frozen at a cer­tain point and that “teams who were be­hind would still be al­lowed to keep de­vel­op­ing”.

Newey said the amounts be­ing spent by man­u­fac­tur­ers were “eye-wa­ter­ing” and that com­pa­nies not pre­pared to spend as much – no­tably Re­nault – would be left be­hind.

How­ever, there will be at­tempts to en­sure that spend­ing is still kept un­der con­trol. The to­tal num­ber of en­gines al­lowed for each driver per sea­son is likely to be re­duced from four to three, pos­si­bly for 2018. And there will be a se­ries of man­dated parts that can­not be de­vel­oped. Lim­its on the amount of de­vel­op­ment time per­mit­ted have also been sug­gested.

But the key driv­ers of fuel ef­fi­ciency – the com­bus­tion process and the hy­brid sys­tem, es­pe­cially the MGU-K, which re­cov­ers en­ergy from the turbo – will re­main free. Over the past

The en­gine to­ken sys­tem is set to be aban­doned, let­ting other man­u­fac­tur­ers catch up to the dom­i­nant Mercedes en­gine

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