F1 teams to discuss engine equalisation move

Formula 1 teams will hold talks about a potential return of engine equalisation amid concerns about a performance disparity between current manufacturers, Autosport can reveal.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

High-level sources have revealed that the topic of engine equalisation has been added to the agenda of next week’s meeting of the F1 Commission that is to take place at the Belgian Grand Prix.

It is understood that the issue has been tabled following analysis by the FIA about the performance of the current power units, fuelled by concerns from French manufacturer Alpine that its Renault engine is not on a par with rivals.

Sources suggest that analysis of the performance of the different power units points to the Renault being somewhere between 15-25Kw (20-33hp) down on other competitors.

Neither Renault nor the FIA have made any comment on the matter.

With the performance gap between teams being so small right now, such a power disparity is enough to make a potential difference to the hopes of the Alpine team.

And it is especially frustrating for Renault because it is unable to improve things as, under the engine freeze that is in place until 2025, there are strict limits on what can be changed on the power units.

The FIA technical regulations are explicit that modifications to the power units can be made from now on only “for the sole purposes of reliability, safety, cost saving, or minimal incidental changes.”

However, with the FIA feeling that there is evidence of performance differences having opened up, there are grounds for potential action to be taken to help level things up.

Engine equalisation has taken place in F1 before, with it being used back in the V8 era in 2007 to close up the field after some manufacturers had exploited reliability changes to increase their own performance, helping open up an advantage.

Ahead of the current F1 engine freeze that came in to force in 2022, it was decided that there would be no framework within the regulations to allow for equalisation because it was felt that the performances were close enough already.

If it is agreed at the F1 Commission meeting that the issue of engine equalisation needs looking at, it is unclear exactly how it will be achieved because it is not a given that Renault will simply be allowed free reign to make improvements.

Renault power unit detail

Renault power unit detail

Photo by: Renault

Back in 2009, when there was a formal investigation by the FIA to look into potential engine disparity, the governing body said at the time that any moves to equalise things would be based on holding back the performance of the top power units.

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In a statement that was sent out after a meeting of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council in September of that year, it said: “Following suggestions that there is a differential between the performance of engines used in F1, the World Motor Sport Council has decided that should this be the case, and should the teams wish to eliminate this performance differential, they may be allowed to do so by reducing the performance of the more powerful engines. However, no engine upgrades will be allowed."

In the end, no agreement was reached on moves to level things up and the matter fell away.

There have been several calls in recent years to equalise the turbo hybrids during periods when either Mercedes was ahead, or Renault was behind, but this did not prompt any response from the FIA.

The F1 Commission meeting in Belgium will also discuss several other key topics, including whether or not to go through with a tyre blanket ban, and potential changes to the format of sprint race weekends.

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