Brought to you by TJ13 contributor TOURDOG
Parts of the World Motorsport Council’s announcements yesterday, were probably as muddled as anything the FIA has ever published. I kid you not – and neither am I exaggerating when I reveal, three of the TJ13 crew huddled together last night in the basement of Judge Towers and debated three sentences of FIA print for more than two hours.
The result? We’re still not completely clear as to the intentions of the new homologation regulations, but we understand there has been a change made to service Red Bull’s requirements and their shiny new TAG Heuer engine. However, we’ll return to that another time.
The 3rd of the sentences initially appeared to be fairly coherent and simple, until we picked at it a little deeper:
The World Motor Sport Council was also advised that the FIA had agreed for Ferrari to supply a fourth customer team with a 2015-specification Power Unit in 2016.
Prior to this week, F1 power unit manufacturers were allowed to supply a maximum of four teams which of course included themselves if they were running a ‘factory’ team. So what is the FIA’s definition of a “customer team”?
Well there isn’t one, but clearly a customer team is not a factory team, operated and owned by a manufacturer. Ferrari and Mercedes fit this description, but what about Renault and Red Bull, McLaren and Honda in 2015? Were they “customer teams” or what we call a ‘works’ team?
I would suggest the later. A works team we commonly accept is an outfit which builds F1 cars but not the power unit. However, it is not merely a “customer team” as Ron Dennis has gone to great lengths to distinguish, because it has a special relationship with the power unit manufacturer.
It could be that someone with experience in creating definitions would be a worthy recruit for Jean Todt and his merry band of bureaucrats in Paris.
At present Ferrari is set to supply the following with engines next year.
- Toro Rosso (2015 engine)
And here are the other teams supply arrangements
- Mercedes – Mercedes
- Williams – Mercedes
- Force India – Mercedes
- Manor – Mercedes
- Renault(lotus) – Renault
- Red Bull – TAG
- Mclaren — Honda
All eleven teams are accounted for nicely. So why did the FIA change the regulation to allow Ferrari to supply another non-existing customer team? Also why is the regulation specific to Ferrari and not just couched to allow “any” manufacturer to supply a 4th team with a PU in 2016?
Is this the favouritism of the Ferrari International Assistance at work again?
This also raises another question. Who is the “official” manufacturer of the Red Bull 2016 power unit? TAG Heuer, Renault, Red Bull, or are they making allowances for the possibility of Ferrari?
And there’s yet another conundrum to be puzzled over.
Matthew Carter of Lotus was asked recently what would happen if Renault failed to complete their acquisition of Lotus. His reply was that Lotus would continue using a Mercedes power unit in 2016. However, Manor F1 had already jointly announced with Mercedes that they would be moving from using a Maranello power unit to one from Brixworth in 2016. But under the current regulations this is impossible because Mercedes would then be supplying 4 customer teams plus themselves.
Given that nobody else other than Haas, Toro Rosso and Sauber appear to want to be Ferrari customers in 2016, the regulation change offering Ferrari latitude for another customer indeed most strange.
There is another possibility, and it is complete and utter speculation on my part:
What if Ferrari is going to be considered their own customer?
In the document released by the WMSC, it is strange that they connect the three sentences in the way they did.
“Power Units homologated in previous seasons may now be re-homologated. Previously no manufacturer could supply more than one specification of PU. The World Motor Sport Council was also advised that the FIA had agreed for Ferrari to supply a fourth customer team with a 2015-specification Power Unit in 2016.”
What if Ferrari, now able to “Re-homologate”, does a fundamental design change to their PU, renames it something like “Alfa Romeo”, and then sells it to themselves?
This would accomplish two things:
- Ferrari would be able to copy the fundamental design of the all-dominant Mercedes
- The now publicly traded company Ferrari, could hide their PU development costs in Fiats books, making themselves look more profitable for the investors?
Anyway, I can assure you pondering the collective mindset of the the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile is not good for one’s sanity. So over to you the good TJ13 readers to work this one out. Maybe its just all to do with counting skills.