F1 engine development rule changes can close field up in 2016

Mercedes has revealed the removal of this year's engine development 'black boxes' was designed to give its Formula 1 rivals a shot at playing catch up

F1 engine development rule changes can close field up in 2016

Mercedes has revealed the removal of this year's engine development 'black boxes' was designed to give its Formula 1 rivals a shot at playing catch up.

Since the introduction of the current 1.6-litre V6 engine at the start of 2014 Mercedes has dominated the past two seasons.

Following complaints from teams struggling to catch Mercedes, areas of the power unit previously closed off to development - or blacked out, hence the black boxes - are now all available again.

Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains managing director Andy Cowell said: "The regulations have changed so for this year the 'black boxes' have disappeared.

"It means that for the 42 line items of development areas, you can work on any of them, but still inside the [development] token restriction.

Why there's more to come from Mercedes' engines

"So for this year there are 32 tokens, which you can spend all for Melbourne if you want to, all at the last race in Abu Dhabi, or do what you like in between.

"There are no exclusion zones, and why did we remove them? Because we didn't want any of the manufacturers locked into a situation where they've a good idea, but they can't introduce it because of the black boxes.

"We don't want a scenario where any of us can say 'I can't catch up because of the rules'.

"Any set of rules that makes it harder for people to catch up is bad."

Cowell has confirmed Mercedes, though, has had no need to work on any of the once-closed-off areas over the course of the winter going into the new F1 season.

"Faced with the rules for 2014 there was a big focus to make sure that before the Australian Grand Prix that year we put as much performance in as possible," added Cowell.

"That was because we knew we wouldn't be able to introduce any more during the season.

"We also put a lot of effort into the areas that would become restricted in the future.

"The black boxes were positioned in areas where we thought there wouldn't be appetite to change because we thought there wouldn't be great thermal efficiency to be had.

"So something like the combustion area stays [open] forever.

"One of the black boxes was the architecture of the crankshaft.

"We felt that after two years it was something we should stop messing around with."

For 2017 the token system will disappear, paving the way for unrestricted development from the manufacturers.

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