Red Bull’s Christian Horner had been leading the charge for a fifth engine to allowed for each car in 2015. The regulations agreed only provide for four power units before grid drop penalties begin to kick in.
The idea gained some support when it was suggested that the fifth engine could be one which has ‘expired’ and is rebuilt with the specific aim of providing more Friday on track running for the cars.
Christian Horner recently revealed, “We unanimously agreed on it [the fifth engine] in Malaysia. All the teams, including Bernie Ecclestone, so it only has to formally go through the strategy group and permission to be signed, and that can be done by fax vote.”
However, Niki Lauda told APA yesterday that the fifth engine is dead in the water. His reason, “You can’t change the regulations in the middle of a season.”
The situation was not how Horner portrayed it. Apparently following verbal unanimous agreement a formula yes vote was apparently a formality.
The sticking points are twofold. Firstly cost. Who will pay for the extra engine?
There is no incentive for customer teams with a Mercedes or Ferrari engine to vote for an incremental engine allocation and the associated cost, because they already have an inherent advantage over the Toro Rosso and Red Bull competition this year.
Secondly, there is no unanimous agreement as to exactly how and when a fifth engine can be deployed. The idea for the upcoming F1 strategy group meeting now appears to be dead in the water – where unanimous agreement is required.
It could be that Red Bull just lost heart over the matter, as the Red Bull team principal commented in Bahrain: “For us we would need that number to increase to seven, eight or nine engines for the season. Unfortunately these are the rules and we are not looking great within these rules. Hopefully these rules will become more realistic in the future.”
One has to wonder how much has in fact been agreed of Ecclestone’s big idea for a “spectacular formula” in 2017.