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Engine bosses meet to consider future F1 power units, as Honda engage FIA on 2015

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Engine bosses meet to consider future F1 power units, as Honda engage FIA on 2015
Jan 7, 2015, 1:49 PM

Yesterday's meeting of the engine manufacturers in Geneva discussed various options for the power units of the future, with the emphasis on increas...

Yesterday's meeting of the engine manufacturers in Geneva discussed various options for the power units of the future, with the emphasis on increasing the "Wow-Factor" and making deeper cost savings.

No details have emerged of decisions or findings, but recommendations will be sent to the F1 Strategy Group for its next meeting. There are a number of agendas at work here, with F1's commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone pushing for firm plans to be put in place by the end of January. He wants more impressive looking cars, with over 1,000 horsepower, making a lot more noise, giving F1 back more wow factor. He would like to see less emphasis on the technical aspects of hybrid, more common parts and therefore less cost.

Reaching 1,000 horsepower will not be that challenging; the hybrid turbos are already at around 900hp, more powerful than the V8s they replaced.

Ecclestone is keen for the changes to come through for 2016, to stir up the pot in the short-term, as it looks like 2015 will be another Mercedes-dominated season and he doesn't want another in 2016.

In reality this could be quite hard to achieve in time for 2016, as the time frame would envisage a vote on firm, properly considered proposals by the beginning of March. Generally the technical regulations for the following year are set by March 1 at the latest and any subsequent changes would require unanimous approval, which would be unlikely.

It's important to note that yesterday's meeting was not a gathering of all F1 teams to discuss these matters, it was the technical heads of the engine manufacturers, men like Ferrari's Mattia Binotto, Renault's Rob White and Andy Cowell from Mercedes.

Homologation procedures are clearly an area to be sorted out for 2016, after the problems that have arisen this year with the loophole due to an unspecified date by which engines must be homologated for this year.

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According to German Auto Motor und Sport some of the technical items on the discussion table were, "the position of the wastegate valve in the exhaust tract, the diameter of the tail pipe and the number of turbochargers and the question of a second turbo, (Note: as suggested by Red Bull at the end of last season -Ed) is also for discussion. Another thought is to have common components, such as batteries or electric motors, which would be standardized to save costs."

However, Auto Motor Und Sport quotes Mercedes F1 team chairman Niki Lauda urging caution, rather than knee jerks: "It does not help to break something above the knee, which is then wrong again," said Lauda.

"By 2016, this is almost impossible. Something sensible can really only come out when we allow ourselves to 2017. So the investments made by the manufacturer will have more value. Honda would have built its engine for one season only. You need a some stability. Otherwise everything is insanely expensive."

Meanwhile the question of updating engines for this season continues to be discussed. Honda and McLaren are unhappy that they are excluded from the loophole on homologation of power units for 2015, meaning that they have to freeze their engine at the end of next month, while rivals will be able to update their engines to a maximum of 32 "tokens" or areas of development.

XPB.cc

Honda is making representations to the FIA to find a solution.

Only one engine can be homologated at a time, but the thinking appears to be currently that the three existing manufacturers have a homologated engine (the February 2014 homologated units) and Honda does not. So Honda must homologate one and cannot race in Australia with an unhomologated engine.

Meanwhile the other three can use up their 32 tokens at their own timetable during 2015 and then once the tokens are all used up, they will homologate the engine. If they are left out in the cold, McLaren and Honda might explore the possibility of challenging that thinking with a protest at a Grand Prix weekend. It would be up to the stewards to decide whether the three manufacturers' engines were properly homologated at that point or not..
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Series Formula 1
Tags innovation