Much has been said this week about the dominance of Mercedes and there have been calls from within F1 for the restrictions on engine development to be relaxed. The purpose of this proposed change would be to allow Ferrari, Renault and Honda to ‘catch up’ in terms of their engine performance.
We asked you the members of F1’s courtroom of opinion here at thejudge13 to decide whether in fact the FIA should take steps to re-regulate the engine development rules. The vote is concluded and here are the results.
394 people voted. No – 277, Yes – 117
Whilst the result is conclusive, the debate surrounding the issue was extensive amongst the commentators.
Charlie W was the first TJ13 reader to comment. He felt that the teams/manufacturers should be forced to take their own medicine. This after all would be just.
“Emphatically no! They (all the teams and manufacturers) agreed upon these regs 3 years ago. And it sunk 3 teams (who were promised effective cost reduced sport) in that time. Neither RedBull/Renault nor Ferrari expected the works Mercedes team would be the one to make the biggest competitive leap. Spice Boy needs to suck it up. And he put down Sauber for outscoring his team!”
However, the spectacle of Mercedes dominance for years to come for others was too unpalatable. McLaren78 wrote candidly:
“I voted yes, and the only reason, is because I’m selfish and want a competitive F1.
Despite being a Hamilton fan, I don’t want to suffer another 4 years with one team, or even worse, one driver, running away with it.
And I’m fully aware of the arguments against it. Why should Merc be penalised for doing the best job by far, for investing heavily? And did it harm Schuey’s and Ferrari’s reputation in the early 2000s? NO! Did it harm RBR’s and Vettel’s reputation in the early 2010s? NO! And it won’t harm Merc and Hamilton (and/or Rosberg). But it does harm F1.
Maybe this Merc dominance is too soon. During the McLaren-Honda years you had two behemoths fighting each other. In the Williams dominance years, you had 4-5 different champions. After the Ferrari years you had the Hamilton/Alonso and McLaren/Ferrari (Hamitlon/Massa) duels. Right now, there’s no breathing space. We move from one runaway team/driver to another.
And so going back to my first sentence. I’m selfish. Don’t want to switch off completely and so change the rules, or something else, whatever. Just make it more competitive. And even if Rosberg pushes Hamilton again this year, he doesn’t appeal to me for some reason. I want a duel between the three most marketable champions out there (Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel)”.
Fortis96 argued, there was no guarantee even by changing the rules the current pecking order would alter.
“And what if they change it and the Mercs or Ferrari produce a dominant package, then what?”
“Christian Horner during Red Bulls peak time once said, “It’s for the other teams to catch us up”. Now it’s Red Bull’s turn to play catch up”.
The fact that Red Bull were the protagonists of the call for change, didn’t sit well with many – given their history.
GRB: “Exactly – it’s just sour grapes (maybe that’s Dietrich’s “secret” ingredient :)”
James Punt: “Since when has F1 ever been about rewarding failure? Red Bull and Renault will just have to suck it up for a few years”.
The13thDuke: “It’d be pretty difficult to appease Christian ‘you only sing when you’re winning’ Horner et al to equalise performance when nobody but Merc know exactly how far they could still turn up the wick”.
I have an idea for a mechanism that would allow catching up without heavy punishment if you do a great job.
All engine manufacturers and their nominated works team (Mercedes and Ferrari is obviously then McLaren/Honda and RedBull/Renault, for now), can, except the world champions, trade championship points for ‘in season’ engine tokens, to a total of 7 tokens per season (i chose 7 as it’s 25% of what they had this winter, this means that the chasing teams can catch up but, with the lead that currently Mercedes have it may take 2 season for the rest to make decent inroads, but the fans would see them catching up and Mercedes, in this instance would still get plenty of glory for their 2 possibly 3 WCC they win) and each token costs 5 championship points.
All the manufacturers still get the already decided ‘winter’ tokens, but can’t carry them over into ‘in season’ tokens, as ‘in season’ tokens can’t be carried into winter.
The WCC team, because it can’t access the ‘in season’ tokens, wil be assessed at the summer break, should they be 43 (a 1-2 finish) or more points behind the leading team, the current champions will be allowed to buy 3 ‘in season’ tokens to allow a couple of small updates/tweeks to allow them to continue to defend their crown. BUT, they must decide before the summer shutdown AND they must buy 3 or none. This all keeps competition alive, chasers have a chance to catch and leaders get a fair chance to defend.
This would mean that the works teams could decide to take a hit on their championship position (and tv money, but Ferrari, RedBull and McLaren get their ‘bonuses’ so they will still get a bigger payment than mid-field teams even if they buy the maximum 10 ‘in season’ tokens) to boost the performance of their PU to enable them to catch up, but because their is a cap to the number of tokens they can buy, they can’t just spend every point they earn all season, this does 2 things, the champions still have a the chance to defend their title without getting totally smashed by season end because they can’t develop their PU and it stops an all out spending war that will only hurt customer teams in the end.
Now the customer teams don’t lose any championship points for any ‘in season’ tokens bought by their engine partners. This will also help customer teams, because I would stipulate that the customers MUST be provided with the most up-to-date spec engines, this means that their is a small possibility that on paper the customer teams may indeed beat the works squad (due to works team spending points on tokens), but it would simply go towards ensuring the customer teams could pay for their engines the following season. We often see a Works team beat their customer teams by over 50 points so even if the full allowence of in season tokens were acquired, so their is only small chance of a Works team getting badly embarrassed, but if you think you have a realistic shot at the title the following season, then it may be seen as a small price to pay.
Every system will have its pro’s and con’s, but this system still rewards those who work hard, it just stops any period of dominance becoming too long (2 maybe at a push 3 seasons maximum as the champions can develop over winter the same as the rest), as once a team has lost its title, it then becomes eligible to use the ‘in season’ tokens system for themselves.
I really think this adds another twist on season strategy for teams to deal with, the fans will physically be able to watch the chasing pack close up on and possibly over take the leaders.
What do you guys think?
Do you have a better plan?
Please provide an executive summary…
All works teams except the champs can buy up to 7 extra engine tokens for ‘in season’ development with championship points they have scored that season, at a cost of 5 points a token.
The champs can still develop through winter the same as the rest. They only lose the right to buy the extra tokens.
It allows eqalisation to happen steadily, over 2 or 3 seasons, once whoever has an advantage is reeled in and looses the crown, the new champs can only develop over winter and the ex-champs are again allowed to buy the extra in season tokens.
It still prevents a spend war but gives the chasing pack chance to catch up, as they can choose to use the extra development tokens on offer to all but last season’s WCC winners.
Is that a bit more of a simple way to put it? That was what you were asking for wasn’t it?
Yes, thanks! Much better.
I see two large problems:
1) Extra development = spend war
The cost of these new engines is a primary reason for all the money problems F1 is experiencing currently.
Development costs are real money.
2) The underlying assumption of this proposal appears to be that one motor is better than another.
Some technical folks have been saying that the Ferrari’s 059/3 is now very close to Mercedes PU106B motor.
If the Mercedes PU106B was significantly better then only cars powered by it would be fighting for top points. We saw something different in Melbourne.
It’s the Mercedes W06 chassis that is better.
But the creativity of your idea is very good. I do like that. 🙂
Thanks @VM, I realized that no method would be perfect. The reason I only allowed the chasing teams 7 extra tokens (if they pay with championship points) was to stop it being a spending free for all, plus, given that individual engine parts carry a different number of development tokens, 7 tokens would offer an extra step forward but not a light years forward.
Also because that champ team can’t buy extra tokens, the engines will continue to gain performance and eqallisation will happen slowly but never stop as the champ team changes, it just slows that particular manufacture’s development, but doesn’t stop it totally, so the PU’s will always be chasing the champs, but if the champs get beat, they get the extra help along with the other chasers the following season. At least then the engines are not totally frozen once they are all within touching distance.
I liked it as no-one hot penalised for doing a great job, just slowed down on development by about 20% for the seasons they are title holders. It won’t put anyone off development either.
I mean, how did Horner presume to implement equalization? Tell Mercedes “that’s it” your PU is as developed as we will let it be, but the others can keep developing to catch up”, that just isn’t going to cut it. But being told you are having your development program slowed a little (as recognition for being so good) and if you lose your advantage, the following season when you aren’t champions you can have to chance for extra development like the others did when chasing you.
That is far more equitable to every party as noone will feel picked on.
Plus what rules would the FiA change? Mercedes haven’t broken or bent any rules, so if you penalise them, you would penalise everyone, there is no magic bullet. Not like when RedBull have obviously pushed the boundaries, slots/holes in the floor in front of rear tyres, flexible wings, tilting nose, hot blowing, off throttle blowing, cold blowing, extreme engines maps to facilitate the EBD, then fuel gate, then finally in Abu Dhabi, the last team to be caught clearly cheating in F1 were RedBull (only 1 race ago too). All these things can be reeled in with regulation tweaks.
Having done a truely exceptional job in conceiving a concept and building it and having a massive advantage, cannot be easily legislated against as THERE IS NO BREACH!
Mr Horner is going to have to have a few more delusional ideas before this all gets sorted out I’m sure.
Any idiot can pick up on what’s wrong with a situation, it takes ingenuity and initiative to come up with the solutions, which I thought RedBull were meant to have in spades…….
Just to clarify, I propose a maximum of 7 ‘in season’ tokens, in my above comment, I said 7 but then put 10 in elsewhere, just to make it even more confusing.
Good poll, Judge! This was a good idea.
Very interesting results, too!
One critique, if I may. This poll was fairly specific, and it was not about the engines, though you’ve mentioned engines in your summary above.
The question specifically addressed only the team: “Should the FIA change the regulations to allow other teams to ‘catch up’ with Mercedes AMG F1?”
Similar polls taken on various other sites.
Interesting that in certain English speaking countries where motor sport is followed, but not predominately F1, overwhelming YES results.
What a surprise! Not!
Can you provide information about the trends different countries showed in voting. You know, maybe the core of the euro fan base voted to keep the current rules, and those from further flung destinations vote for change.
Just thought it would be interesting to see if opinions change geography.
Obviously we are English speaking, but our reader demographic is only about 40% Uk based
I know if you only have 1 or 2 voters from a country it’s hardly a trend, but it would be nice to see if perceptions of ‘the show’ are different, depending on where you are from and possibly of you have arace in your country.
I think it’s worth mentioning the “Yes” argument that the FIA has a long history of gradually and purposefully eroding a team’s obnoxious advantage on others:
Yes and I shall reiterate that changing regulations is not changing the engine formula. Changing the engine formula is a bad bad bad idea.
And Renault have already stated that they’re not in favour of these radical changes, likewise Mercedes.
Look like Renault and RedBull aren’t even the same religion, let alone singing from the same hymn sheet with a united front.