A tweak to Formula 1’s engine rules for 2017 means that teams and manufacturers have little motivation this year to lobby Bernie Ecclestone to find a replacement for the German Grand Prix.
Hockenheim’s demise – confirmed by its boss on Thursday night – means that F1’s schedule for next season will drop to 20 races when the final calendar is confirmed by the FIA World Motor Sport Council next week.
Twelve months ago there was similar calendar uncertainty where Austin’s fate for 2016 had question marks over it until a few days before the start of the season – meaning the schedule teetered between 20 and 21 races for much the winter.
That was of great significance for F1’s teams and their engine suppliers because that was the level at which a clause in the rulebook kicked in that opened up the door for an extra power unit.
Article 23.4 c) of F1’s 2016 Sporting Regulations said that the standard limit of four engines per driver per season “will also be increased by one if the number of Events, as scheduled at the start of the first Event of the Championship, exceeds 20.”
In the end, Austin’s place was set in stone by the time of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix – and that meant drivers were allowed to use five engines for this season.
As part of a move to reduce engine costs agreed by manufacturers back in May, the regulations have been changed for 2017 – laying down a strict four power-unit limit per season and the removal of a clause that allows extra engines in the event of the calendar expanding.
So having 21 races for 2017 would have meant teams needing to eke extra mileage from their pool of four engines, rather than making life easier because suddenly they have five units to play with.
In the 20 races held so far this season, it is interesting to note that only the Mercedes customer teams of Force India, Williams and Manor were able to get through them all using the four engines they will have to make use of next season.
Fernando Alonso had to use eight internal combustion engines and nine turbochargers and MGU-Hs, while Lewis Hamilton used an eighth turbocharger and MGU-H.