F1 bosses have reached an agreement that will see the engine regulations tweaked from 2017 based around the criteria set by the FIA towards the end of last year, in turn ensuring the Hybrid era will continue until the 2020 season.
The four engine manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Honda and Renault – had been tasked with coming up with a proposal that would ultimately avoid the FIA's threat to introduce an independently developed customer engine over concerns power units had become too expensive and complicated.
As such, the manufacturers have worked to meet four criteria as set out by the FIA to reduce prices, guarantee availability, simplify the technical regulations and improve the noise.
After lengthy discussions, an agreement has now been reached that will see engine costs reduced over the next three years on an incremental basis, lowered by 1million euros in 2017, before being reduced by a further 3million euros from 2018. These costs will be driven by a progressive reduction of the number of power unit elements per driver per season.
Additionally, the supply of power units to customer teams will be ensured by an 'obligation to supply' to be activated in the event a team is left with no clear deal. This has come in reaction to Red Bull's dilemma in 2015 after it attempted to cancel its Renault agreement only to find Ferrari, Mercedes and Honda refused or were unable to supply.
In the interests of performance convergence, the token system will be scrapped from the 2017 season, while power unit weight, dimensions and materials will be constrained, with boost pressure introduced in 2017 and 2018.
Finally, the manufacturers have agreed to continue research into ways that the sound of the power units can be improved, though this could be delayed until 2018.
The new deal means the V6 Hybrid era is assured until 2020 as per the original agreement and goes a long way to addressing the FIA's issues with the current regulations, which it felt were too expensive. However, they are unlikely to appease Bernie Ecclestone, who wants to see a return to more powerful, noisier engines, while Red Bull's Christian Horner has previously suggested the new agreement doesn't far enough to meet the FIA's criteria and should reactivate the plan to introduce an different specification independent engine as an option.
Amendments to the Power Unit agreement as released by FIA
Agreement has been reached on a significant reduction in the price of power unit supply to customer teams and a reduction in cost to manufacturers over the coming years.
- In 2017 the power unit price for customer teams will be reduced by €1m per season compared to 2016.
- From 2018, the annual supply price will be reduced by a further €3m.
- Cost reduction on power units will be driven by changes to the Sporting and Technical regulations in 2017 and 2018, with a progressive reduction of the number of power unit elements per driver per season.
Supply of power units to customer teams will be ensured, as the homologation procedure will include an “obligation to supply” that will be activated in the event of a team facing an absence of supply.
The new agreement includes a package of measures aimed at achieving performance convergence.
- The token system is to be removed from 2017
- Additionally, constraints on power unit part weights, dimensions and materials, and on boost pressure will be introduced in 2017 and in 2018.
Manufacturers are currently conducting a promising research programme into further improving the sound of the current power units, with the aim of implementation by 2018 at the latest.