FIA set to refine engine usage rules

The FIA is set to refine the 2009 F1 engine rules so that teams cannot make a change after the start of Saturday morning practice, autosport.com can exclusively reveal

FIA set to refine engine usage rules

Race director Charlie Whiting had already indicated that changes after qualifying would only be allowed if there was a proven problem with the original engine, and that ruling will now apply to the whole of Saturday, ensuring that teams use the same unit for P3, qualifying and the race.

The move, set to be ratified during this week's meeting of the FIA's Sporting Working Group in Nice, is a direct response to a request from the teams. They feared that allowing changes after P3 would force everyone to routinely swap engines on both cars over the course of Saturday lunchtime, and that would entail bringing extra staff to each race.

"As the rules stand at the moment, you could change your engine after P3," Renault engineering director Pat Symonds told autosport.com. "And there's some incentive to do that, with the limit on engines.

"All the teams I've spoken to feel that that's a little bit against the way we're trying to do things, and it will mean that you will have to take more people to the races. If we blew an engine on Saturday morning, of course we have enough people to change it. But we don't have enough people to systematically change two engines, so we don't really want that to be the case.

"I think there's enough in the parc ferme rules to say that you couldn't change an engine after qualifying starts, although of course now if you had to, there's no penalty associated with it.

"If everything was left completely open, it would soon degenerate. You put in your engine on Saturday. Let's say you spin in qualifying and have to start at the back, you might say I really ought now to use that old dog of an engine, because this isn't a good weekend anyway.

"Or you could come in on Saturday and it's raining, and say I know one engine's a bit iffy, so I'll put that one in now because I'm not going to load it up so much. It would soon degenerate into something completely unintended, so I hope we apply a little bit of sense to it."

This year each driver has eight engines for the whole season, and grid penalties are only applied when a ninth unit is used.

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