Some F1 teams targeting engine freeze loophole for 2015

The FIA is facing a challenge over Formula 1's engine freeze, as some teams believe there is a loophole in the 2015 regulations that could hand them extra development time

Some F1 teams targeting engine freeze loophole for 2015

With attempts to convince Mercedes to relax the freeze rules to allow rivals a mid-season upgrade having failed, Renault and Ferrari are now pondering how best to make up ground over 2015.

One issue that has emerged in recent technical meetings with the FIA is that there is no date specified in the regulations for when 2015 engines must be homologated.

Although it is widely believed that the new upgraded power units have to be lodged with the FIA for the first race of the season, some teams believe that the way is open for them to not homologate their engine until later in the year.

The secrets of the McLaren-Honda package

Such a delay could prove valuable in allowing longer development time to make further improvements.

The matter was brought up by Ferrari technical director James Allison in recent technical meetings with the FIA in Abu Dhabi, but the governing body argued that although no date for homologation is set, other clauses in the engine regulations make it clear what can be done.

ONE ENGINE TYPE PER SEASON

In particular, paragraph 2 of Appendix 4 of the F1 Sporting Regulations relating to engine homologation states: "A manufacturer may homologate no more than one specification of power unit."

The FIA argues that the clause prevents manufacturers from running two types of engine in one season, making a late homologation impossible.

However, teams argue that a manufacturer would still only be homologating a 2015 engine, as any running earlier in the season would be done with its 2014 unit.

One high level source at a team said Ferrari was not alone in questioning the rules.

"There is no specified date to homologate the engine, so in theory you could wait a few races before doing it," said the source.

"That would allow some valuable development time, but equally would mean starting the year with a slower 2014 engine."

DISCUSSIONS ONGOING

Although the FIA has expressed its opinion, the door is open for teams to ultimately challenge the matter with race stewards at the Australian Grand Prix if they wanted.

An FIA spokesman made it clear, however, that the governing body hoped to have the matter resolved well before the first race.

"Our position, as stated very clearly in the meeting [in Abu Dhabi], is you can only have one type of homologated engine per year," he said.

"So whatever you turn up with in Melbourne is your homologated engine.

"It was always envisaged, although not explicitly stated in the rules, that manufacturers would have to deal with modifications on the engine within the constraints of the rules, and then submit their 2015 engine [at the first race].

"It is simple, but when you read it [the rule book], it doesn't say that unfortunately.

"However, you have paragraph 2 of Appendix 4 and countless meetings beforehand where it was made clear.

"The matter still needs discussing, but we will get it sorted it out before Melbourne."

Honda, as a new F1 manufacturer, has been told that its 2015 engine must be homologated by February 28 next year rather than for the start of the season.

shares
comments
The secrets of the McLaren-Honda package
Previous article

The secrets of the McLaren-Honda package

Next article

Lewis Hamilton: Belgian Grand Prix was title race turning point

Lewis Hamilton: Belgian Grand Prix was title race turning point
How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Plus

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start Plus

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start

While it launched the F1 career 
of a future world champion, STUART CODLING recalls that the BT60 was also the final nail in the coffin of a once-great marque 30 years ago. Here is its story

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2022
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022