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Alpine abandons F1 engine equalisation push

Plans for a possible Formula 1 engine equalisation move over concerns the Renault/Alpine power unit has a performance disparity to those of other manufacturers have been abandoned, Autosport can reveal.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

It is understood that Alpine has withdrawn a series of proposed upgrades to its current engine as these did not gain full support from rival teams, which led to an FIA assessment of the situation being closed.   

In July, Autosport first reported that the topic of engine equalisation had been put before the F1 Commission after an FIA analysis of the performance levels of the currently frozen specification of power units indicated that Alpine’s Renault engine is approximately 15-25Kw (20-33hp) down on its closely matched rivals – Ferrari, Mercedes and Honda. 

The FIA called this a “notable performance gap” in a statement released after the F1 Commission met at the Belgian Grand Prix. 

The governing body went on to state that the F1 Commission had “discussed ways to remedy this discrepancy” and that “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”. 

This move followed the FIA checking engine performance levels over the first half of the 2023 season, as had been agreed at the start of the current power unit rules cycle from in 2022 that this year would mark a point where engines could possibly be altered. 

This would be done to avoid a major performance difference “being locked in for an extended period”, per the FIA statement.  

But for any changes to go ahead for any engine manufacturer, they required what has been framed as ‘good faith’ agreement apparently arranged between all the teams and engine builders in back in 2021 when the engine freeze was first agreed. 

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

At the Qatar GP last month, interim Alpine team principal Bruno Famin said there had been “no progress” on the engine equalisation plan and that for his squad “priority number one is to have a good 2026 power unit”, when F1’s next engine and chassis rules reset occurs. 

But it can now be revealed that Alpine, which continues to run Renault’s F1 engine since the squad was rebranded to promote the French marque’s sports division in 2021, has since requested that any move to consider future changes to ensure engine parity across the field under the current rules cycle be abandoned and this has been accepted by the FIA. 

Alpine is understood to have decided that since it had become clear the team did not have the full support from its rivals, despite what had previously been arranged under the good faith understanding, it was better to direct any resources it would have been spent on improving the output of its current engine instead on work to the new engine rules.  

These will put more emphasis on sustainable fuel and electric power in F1 engines that are coming in just over two years’ time. 

In a statement issued to Autosport after this publication contacted the team for comment regarding the latest development on the engine equalisation story, Famin said: “Following discussions with the FIA regarding engine equalisation, we, as a power unit manufacturer, actively made the decision not to take the matter further, making note of the positions held by the FIA and other power unit manufacturers.  

“The topic of engine equalisation was initially brought forward by the FIA during the F1 Commission meeting in July, after which we reviewed what options we had and what performance upgrades could be made in line with the regulations and the gentlemen’s agreement between the PU manufacturers.  

“We quickly reached the conclusion that it was not worth our time and effort.  

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“Moreover, for such a small performance gain, it would be a distraction in our efforts towards the development of the 2026 PU project.” 

It is understood that the plan to abandon the assessment of engine parity will be formally tabled at the next F1 Commission meeting at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi race. 

When contacted, the FIA did not wish to comment for this story.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble

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