The FIA has introduced major changes to the Formula 1 engine regulations with immediate entry into force. The modifications to the regulations are intended to reduce costs and do not change the bases of the power units or their architecture, but rather limit the possibilities for evolution and the resources to be used in research and development.
While attention was focused on the season’s recovery, the budget ceiling, the discussions about the inverted grid, the rules of 2022, the aerodynamic handicaps or the signings of Sainz and Ricciardo, a revolution was quietly orchestrated to reduce the cost of engines drastically.
However, for the teams the price of the motors will not vary. The idea is that motorists have to invest much less, avoid the current cost spiral and thus favor their continuity.
At the time we said on SoyMotor.com that after the budget ceiling for the teams, the engines also need their technical and financial limitations. During all the aforementioned negotiations, some details had already been leaked, a limitation of the hours of the test bench, among other things.
The rules on the power unit are already here and are extensive, although they maintain the current engines until 2025, just as the bikers wanted to avoid having to make investments that are impossible to assume in these times.
Two important details to understand the reasons for these drastic limitations. One, Mercedes misled everyone because it invested 500 million euros and employed 1,000 engineers for two years, perhaps a little longer even, to design an engine that has proven to be little less than invincible. A total of 84 victories over 121 Grand Prix, an average that has decreased somewhat the last three seasons – despite which they have always won more than half of the tests – compared to the first three years of the current hybrid engines, when they won 41 of the 49 Grand Prix.
Ferrari made a great financial and technical effort to catch up; last year they even seemed to be slightly ahead after the summer, until a ‘cunning’ they used was declared illegal… but before that it had been declared illegal, one of the tricks of Mercedes, to burn oil in the moments that maximum power is required .
Honda has taken a long time to get a competitive engine since he returned as a rider in 2015. He has only managed to come to the fore in 2019 and still slightly below Ferrari and Mercedes. But it is said that, after the first unlucky seasons with McLaren, he decided to put all the meat on the grill: an investment of the order of 400 million euros a year and a workforce of 1,000 engineers.
Dizzying, troubling, disheartening and, of course, discouraging figures for any new biker.
But also the figures that are considered that motorists invest each year for the development of the units have the same parameter. In addition to the units used in the preseason tests and the Grand Prix, there is the fact that each year three engine specifications were developed and possibly as many gasoline and lubricants; their study, to ensure increased competitiveness and the necessary reliability, required the construction of another 100 engines and thousands of hours of test bench. Not less than 150 million euros, plus research costs. Crazy.
The FIA and Liberty Media knew they should stop this. There was a risk not only that Renault would leave, but that Honda would become discouraged from continuing their efforts for a long time; The overnight march in late 2008 – as a team and as a rider – is something that all the Repsonsables had in mind. And the covid-19 has spread these rumors and has included Mercedes among the brands that were rethinking their investment. Both Toto Wolff and Cyril Abiteboul have more or less made it clear that they wanted to continue, but not at any price..
In the end there is no direct money limit, but there are a series of measures that save motorists a lot of money. Limitations in the introduction of modifications or evolutions in the engines and restriction in the hours in the test bench.
THERE WILL BE NO NEW POWER UNITS UNTIL AFTER 2025
The most important. The engine that is homologated in early 2021, the entire power unit, will be homologated for the period 2021-2025, which will prevent a new engine every year, as it has been until now.
This 2021 engine may be an upgrade from this year’s or a brand new one. But from then on only evolutions and updates will be allowed. One per year until 2023, total freeze date.
Obviously this is an effective saving, but it is also a major challenge because it will be much more difficult for those starting behind this season to recover the delay. In fact it will be almost impossible during the season, hopefully when the new spec can be introduced.
The work of the bikers this year will be brutal, especially since they will already work with some limitations and restrictions because the delay at the beginning of 2021 may not be recovered in the five remaining seasons until 2025 inclusive.
EVOLUTION OF POWER UNITS
The second part is the development of the engines, which will also be limited. There will be no return to the token system that was established in 2014; it just won’t be necessary. True, there will be a number of tokens for some elements, but these do not include the main elements of the power unit.
This year, the heat engine It will have to remain identical all this season, so that the bikers will be able to focus on the development of the 2021 engine. This may have an evolution in 2021, another for 2022 and a third in 2023, which cannot be modified in 2024 or 2025. Both turbo and MGU-H are subject to the same limitation.
On the contrary for the MGU-K, the switchboard and the battery a new speci ﬁ cation is only allowed for a period of two years. That is, one for 2020-21, another for 2022-23 before being frozen for 24-25. The motorcyclist will be able to enter the new specification of these two elements when he is interested, so it will be important when they are introduced, if soon or when they are fully developed.
Of course, there will be an exception. A manufacturer may request modifications to the elements of the homologated power unit for reasons of reliability, safety, cost savings, supply problems and for something very important for aerodynamics: for installation in the car, what is known as ‘packaging’ of the power unit.
This rule exists today and existed in the token years. It is clear that the FIA will have work to control that these arrangements fulfill only their function and do not produce an improvement in performance. Not only in maximum power, but in the form of power delivery … or in the time that the engine can run at maximum power, which, as is known, is always limited.
Total, the FIA has identified 41 parts or components of an engine and it has clearly specified what can be modified and how many times it can be done per season, what is free and if it should be taken into account when calculating the weight of the power unit, etc.
PERMITTED EVOLUTIONS PER YEAR
Parts of the power unit 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 Internal combustion engine 0 1 1 1 0 0 Turbo 0 1 1 1 0 0 MGU-H 0 1 1 1 0 0 MGU-K 1 1 1 1 0 0 Electronic control unit 1 1 1 1 0 0 Battery 1 1 1 1 0 0 Petrol and oil 0 1 1 1 1 0
LIMITATIONS ON THE USE OF POWER UNITS
On the other hand, the limitation in the number of elements of the power unit to use during the season remains. That is, one thing is the number of units to use during a season and another, the specifications. New units may be used during the season, provided they are of the same specification.
As in 2019, each pilot will be able to use three heat engines, three turbos, two batteries, two switchboards and three MGU-K… but unlike 2019, these must be identical to the previous ones, with the same specifications, without evolution; only if the Championship had less than 14 tests would all the aforementioned units be reduced to two and later, internal combustion engines, MGU-H and turbos are expected to be reduced to two per season.
Of course, the extra units used, those that exceed the quota, will entail penalties as usual.
HIGHER FIVE KILOS UNITS
Also, the powertrain will be heavier. The established weight increase will be five kilos in 2021, which will weigh 150 kilos instead of 145. The reason for this weight gain is to avoid resorting to some sophisticated and expensive materials to achieve a lighter power unit. .
Of course, in F1 each rule to limit a topic is used by engineers to achieve another goal. For example, you could still keep the expensive materials for a good part of the thermal engine and make the crankcase a heavier material to be able to place the center of gravity in the most favorable position, within the limits allowed by the regulations.
LIMITED TESTING BANK HOURS
A key detail that limits the possibilities of updating. Limited to nine test benches available per rider. Two concepts are distinguished: maximum hours of annual occupation and maximum annual hours of maximum activity. The first takes into account the time elapsed since the motor is installed in the bank and exceeds 1,000 revolutions per minute until the last time it drops below 1,000 revolutions per minute. The second concept measures the time that the motor rotates above 7,000 revolutions per minute,
The idea is clear: what remains of this year the limitation of hours of occupation is established at 4,800, while those of maximum activity are 600 hours. In 2021 the figures will be 6,400 and 800, while in 2022 and 2023 they will drop to 6,000 and 750, while in 2024 and 2025 the 6,000 hours of annual occupation are maintained and only 700 of maximum activity.
HASTA GASOLINE WILL HAVE LIMITATIONS
Today the conception of a new engine is inconceivable without close collaboration with the gasoline supplier. This seeks the ideal fuel, within the guidelines of the regulation, to have the best possible combustion with the engine and also the ideal lubricant.
A job where not only laboratory hours are spent, but also work on the engine test bench. A part of that hundred engines for research in the engine bank are destined for this purpose.
Now, fuel suppliers will approve a gasoline that must be used for the entire season, without further changes and adjustments. The difference is that in 2024 an evolution will be allowed.
THERE WILL BE NO CUSTOMER SPECIFICATIONS
Another very important detail – and essential so that the official teams do not have an advantage over the clients – is that Engine specifications of officers and customers must be the same, even the software “and the client engines must work with the same software, in the same way and with the same fuel and oil of the officers”, with the exception that if desired customers can choose another fuel and lubricant supplier.
It is assumed that when a new specification appears, the evolution allowed by the rules in 2021, 2022 and 2023, each team will be free to enter it according to the engine change cycle they have established.
LIMITATION OF THE TEST OF THE POWER UNITS IN THE TEST BENCH
2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 Maximum number of test benches 9 9 9 9 9 9 Maximum hours of annual occupation 4,800 6,400 6,000 6,000 6,000 6,000 Annual hours of maximum activity 600 800 750 750 700 700
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