The FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) have reaffirmed commitments to the existing Formula One Power Unit regulations through a refresh in the development timeline manufacturers are required to work within.
Through the 2016 season existing manufactures will have the freedom to implement changes impacting up to 50% of the Power Unit solution. A further 40% update will be available in 2017, 30% in 2018, and 24% in 2019. Whilst regulations were already in place around Power Unit developments from 2016-2019, changes announced during the WMSC meeting represent a significant increase in development freedom for engine manufacturers. These changes should enable manufacturers such as Renault and Honda to address performance issues relative to Mercedes and Ferrari.
With current Power Unit technology exceeding performance figures from both the V8 and V10 era of the sport, this additional scope for development coupled with further technical regulations changes surrounding vehicle dynamics for 2017, the publically stated performance improvement targets of 4-5 seconds per lap appear to be well within the capabilities of teams.
Other than to stating Power Unit development as ‘in season’,at this time it has not been made clear how the manufacturer’s upgrades will be applied. However with the WMSC also approving Scuderia Ferrari’s request to supply an unnamed team (likely Scuderia Toro Rosso) with 2015 Power Unit configuration it can be expected ‘works’ and ‘customer’ teams will again run different iterations of Power Unit design through a season.
Any new manufacturers entering the sport through the 2016-2019 will have freedom to update up to 24% of the Power Unit design in year 1 and 50% in year 2 subsequent to their entry to the sport.
The final caveat to Power Unit upgrade regulations is that the WMSC have mandated FIA President, Jean Todt and the Representative of the Commercial Rights Holder, Bernie Ecclestone to make recommendations and decisions regarding a number of pressing issues in Formula One such as governance, Power Units and cost reduction. Mr Todt and Mr Ecclestone expressed their intention to establish conclusions on these matters by 31 January, 2016. These conclusions could shape the direction of future Power Unit Developments.
With the 2015 Formula One Season having concluded under the spot lights of the Yas Marina Circuit, Scuderia Ferrari alongside technical partner Shell, offered a few insights into how an aggressive approach to developments powered the team to 14 podiums, three victories and second in the 2015 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship
Guy Lovett, Innovation Manager, Shell Motorsport commented:
“It was always our plan to adopt a more aggressive strategy in 2015 with the development of our Shell V-Power race fuel in comparison to previous years. We really applied our learnings from 2014, a year of new and innovative hybrid technology, to our 2015 race fuel, of which we introduced five new powerful blends. We worked closer than ever with our colleagues in Maranello where we fully integrated our development plans to optimise the fuel-engine package and it was great to see that our hard work paid off, helping to power the team back to winning ways. Now the hard work continues ahead of 2016.”
This approach translated into performance gains of up to half a second a lap, equating to a 30 second improvement in the overall race time. The partnership with Shell in both fuel and lubricants has delivered 25% of the performance gains the team have seen over the course of 2015. This gain exceeds all previous achievements of the partnership and serve as the key performance indicator behind the recently extended a partnership spanning over 50 years.
James Allison, Technical Director, Scuderia Ferrari commented:
“2015 was a really positive year for Scuderia Ferrari and we made great strides in performance, particularly with the power unit, compared to last year. The considerable improvements Shell made with its Shell V-Power race fuel and Shell Helix Ultra with PurePlus Technology lubricant really did contribute to our own improvements on the race track, not only helping to deliver greater horsepower but reliability as well. Our Technical Partnership with Shell has never been stronger and we look forward to continuing our work with them for at least the next five years with the aim of winning more races and championships.”
The partnership can now fully shift focus to the 2016 season and work to ensure the Scuderia with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are in a position to battle for championship glory.