F1 engine freeze rules face crunch vote during Russian GP

A proposal to free up Formula 1's engine freeze rules faces a crunch vote during a team meeting at Sochi on Friday, as Ferrari dismisses talk it could lead to a ramp up in costs

F1 engine freeze rules face crunch vote during Russian GP

The idea of easing restrictions on what teams can do to engines first surfaced at a team principals' meeting back at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The complex future of F1 engines

A number of manufacturers want the ability to make improvements to engines during the season - rather than only in the winter as the current rules dictate.

The idea of allowing limited freedom during the season has now been added to the agenda of a sporting working group meeting which is scheduled to take place at the Russian GP on Friday.

But the championship-leading Mercedes team is resistant to allowing such freedom - and has voiced fears that it could lead to a dramatic increase in costs that would need to be passed on to customer teams.

FERRARI: COST IMPACT NEGLIGIBLE

Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci says such fears are unfounded though, and thinks that in-season development would not only cost little extra but could be even better for customer teams as it could help boost their performance.

"From the manufacturers' point of view, I work for Ferrari - and our core business is engine," Mattiacci told AUTOSPORT.

"F1 also stands for innovation and continuous improvement.

"So with all the dollars that I invest in innovation - it makes no sense that for one year I cannot touch the engine.

"It [lifting the freeze] is an idea that is a win for the media, a win for teams and a win for all the stakeholders.

"Looking at it from the small teams' perspective, if I have the possibility to deliver a more performing engine to them, then they have the opportunity to score more points and gain revenue.

"We are still working on developing the engine right now even if we cannot apply changes [during the season], so I can't see costs increasing.

"Actually you could find that we develop the engine in a more efficient way."

COMPETITIVE RISKS

Mattiacci also made it clear that pursuing the engine freeze was not being done as a means of guaranteeing the gap to Mercedes would be closed.

He reckons there was a very real chance that allowing all manufacturers the freedom to do better could allow F1's current pacesetters to be even further ahead.

"The engine freeze if it is goes through is a great opportunity - but it is also a great risk," he said.

"Today it represents more risk. It is not a simple rule that someone writes which goes in one direction. Mercedes may have something in their pocket and boom, they could go more ahead."

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