The new 2016 engine regulations awaiting ratification have two marked changes to their predecessors. Firstly, in season development will again be allowed probably with repeated homologation dates for each upgrade each F1 manufacturer brings. Secondly, certain areas of the power unit which were due to be locked down from redesign until 2020 have been opened up.
This latter regulation clearly allows Renault and Honda the chance to examine any fundamental design flaws with their power units and make the appropriate changes. Renault are yet to announce their participation in Formula One in 2016, and recent comments from Cyril Abiteboul have heightened the fear a Renault could leave F1 in 2016.
Honda have now revealed, that despite the new design freedoms, they are determined to continue with their design and concept for a V6 Turbo hybrid engine. The Japanese manufacturer has refused to sign up power unit engineers from Mercedes or Ferrari, believing the path it is taking will be a winning one in the end.
“It can be a weakness or it can be the winning formula,” says Fernando Alonso. “I choose to believe this is the winning formula. If you want to copy what Mercedes do, you can be close to Mercedes but you cannot ever be better than Mercedes.
“Being there in another culture, with another discipline and another ethic of work has maybe been difficult this year because some of the process has been slower than what it could be, but I think some of the ideas we have are very unique in the paddock.
“If we make them work, it will be difficult for anyone else to copy.”
This may cause McLaren fans some discomfort and concern that they are set for another year of two score engines and associated penalties together with a lack of track time to even test out properly new components.
McLaren themselves started the year with certain design philosophies which were radically different from others. Yet there has been a compromise and the ‘zero size’ aerodynamic philosophy has seen some modification over the back end of the season. McLaren maintain this is the way to go and the engine was the problematic component, not the aero design.
Alonso is highly bullish over next year’s opportunities. “The car is responding well, aerodynamically we have the direction to go in, we are improving and I see when I am on the track how we attack the corners and how fast we are in the corners. So I am not afraid that next year’s car will not be at the top level.”
Honda’s ideas may be difficult to copy, but will they prove to finally work?