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FIA to go to F1 Strategy Group if 2017 engine gap is too big

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FIA to go to F1 Strategy Group if 2017 engine gap is too big
By:
May 13, 2016, 11:55 AM

The FIA will ask Formula 1's Strategy Group to consider a rethink of the sport's engine rules if the power gap between the manufacturers is too big at the start of 2017.

The start of the race
Felipe Nasr, Sauber C35
The grid before the start of the race
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-16
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 Team W07 leads at the start of the race
Start crash with Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF16-H, Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing RB12, Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12 and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 Team W07
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 Team W07 leads at the start of the race
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 Team W07 leads at the start of the race

As part of a new engine agreement between the car manufacturers and the FIA, efforts have been made to ensure that no engine has a huge advantage over another.

The FIA will monitor the performance of each engine closely over the first few races of next season and if, according to its calculation, the performance spread at a track like Barcelona is more than 0.3 seconds then action will be taken.

The FIA's Head of Powertrain Fabrice Lom explained during a media briefing ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix how the sport will seek to close up the gap between engine makers.

"We have a process agreed with the power unit manufacturers," he explained. "We don't look at laptimes.

"We have tools to simulate everything so we can calculate the performance of the power unit itself on each car, and we transform this in a power index, because you have this hybrid system and you have an engine, and you cannot only talk about horsepower. It is an index.

"We check every car of every lap of the first three races, we take the best of each power unit for each race, and then we do the average. That should give a power unit index of performance for each power unit manufacturer.

"Then we have a translation of this index for the Barcelona track, and this is what we will do. We transform this index to lap time and check the difference in lap time to the Barcelona track."

Strategy Group report

If the difference between the engines exceeds the 0.3 seconds target, then it will be up to the Strategy Group to decide what action needs to be taken.

"We will report to the Strategy Group, and then it is a decision from the Strategy Group about what they can do," he said.

"[In terms of] the timing, we check this at the first three races and this is before the deadline to make a change by majority for the following year – so the Strategy Group and Commission should be able to do a change for the following year."

Sand-bagging

While the early season checks would in theory allow room for a manufacturer to sand bag until the checks are complete before unleashing more power later on, Lom made it clear that there was little the FIA could do about that.

"Clearly the package is to help convergence," he explained. "We are not mandating convergence: we are not prescribing convergence. So we just put measures that should help convergence.

"Naturally the convergence will come with stability of regulations and we try to speed up the convergence by having these measures: but there is no prescribed convergence at all."

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Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble