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Will Kimi Raikkonen take a penalty in Austin as Ferrari pushes 2016 Formula 1 engine development?

Ferrari is likely to run a development engine at the upcoming American Grand Prix and may use Kimi Raikkonen to test the new designs for its 2016 F...

Will Kimi Raikkonen take a penalty in Austin as Ferrari pushes 2016 Formula 1 engine development?
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Ferrari is likely to run a development engine at the upcoming American Grand Prix and may use Kimi Raikkonen to test the new designs for its 2016 Formula 1 power unit, although that would give the Finnish driver a grid penalty.

The Italian team, which has used all of its four allocated power units for 2015, has made a significant number of changes to its 2016 power plant designs using its remaining engine tokens.

As Sebastian Vettel still has an outside shot at winning the world title this season and would not want a grid penalty harming his chances in Austin, the Scuderia could decide to give the development engine to Raikkonen, as the Finn is already out of the championship race.

Kimi Raikkonen

Experienced F1 technical journalist, Giorgio Piola, has noted the revisions Ferrari has made to its power block as it looks ahead to next season.

The development engine block is a 2016 treatment, which also requires a new gearbox. On the 2015 engine, the oil tank has been moved from the back of the engine to the front.

The new unit will also have the MGU-K removed from the back to the lower-left side of the block, which will bring it into line with what all the other manufacturers currently do.

Kimi Raikkonen

Ferrari is trying to make a narrower rear end to the car for aerodynamic reasons.

If Raikkonen uses the new unit at the next round in the United States, Ferrari can then continue to test and develop it during the final four races of the season.

The team is yet to confirm if it will run the development engine in Austin, but team boss, Maurizio Arrivabene, said a decision would be taken soon.

Maurizio Arrivabene

He said: "We are thinking about it and we will tell you in Austin. Of course the situation with [Sebastian] now second in the championship is changing things a bit.

"But we have to do our calculations at home and look at what we have in our hands before taking any kind of decision."

Vettel said that Ferrari needs to gain as much of an advantage as it can in the remaining races of the season, but criticised the grid penalty system as an unnecessary punishment on the drivers.

Sebastian Vettel

He said: “We have to make use of the situation. But on the other hand we try to learn as much as possible for next year to make progress again.

"As a driver you definitely don't want to get a 10-place grid penalty. It just feels strange to be punished when you didn't commit a crime."

The four F1 engine manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Honda and Renault – are meeting this week to discuss potential changes to the power unit development system.

It is understood that the token system will be retained and that manufacturers will again be allowed to change 32 tokens, which make up approximately 48 per cent of the engine, in 2016.

Toto Wolff

It remains possible that the four engine producers will agree that more tokens can be changed next year. Although any changes to the rules would have to be agreed unanimously by those manufacturers.

Sources have indicated that Mercedes would be willing to allow this, even though it could allow its rivals to catch up.

Complicating matters is the Red Bull situation. The four-times constructors’ champion, along with its junior outfit, Toro Rosso, is yet to find an engine for next year after its split from Renault, and the team’s management has repeatedly stressed it would pull out of the sport if it could not find a competitive engine for 2016.

Ferrari, which has so far not agreed to supply Red Bull with the latest specification of engines it will to its other customer teams, Sauber and Haas F1, could be using its development engine as a way of offering Red Bull 2016 engines, which would still be a step behind those used by the works team.

However, the FIA revealed today that it was introducing new regulations that would mean manufacturers could not provide older-spec engines to customers.

Niki Lauda Helmut Marko

However, even if the four engine manufacturers agree to change the rules and allow more engine development next year, they still need every F1 team to agree to the adjustments.

Red Bull, as it assesses its future F1 plans, could therefore use its vote as a bargaining ploy to secure the latest specification of 2016 engines after all.

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