Engine loop closed for 17

image16x9_img_1536_high.jpgF1’s governing body the FIA, have modified the regulations to prevent teams and drivers from stockpiling power units from next season.

Currently this year teams were able to use more of their allocated power unit components, without incurring additional penalties. This came to a head at the Belgian grand prix of Spa when championship contender Lewis Hamilton racked up a 55 grid place penalty. 50 of those grid penalties came from power unit component changes, and 5 places for a ‘spare’ gearbox change.

Fernando Alonso also exposed the loophole in the regulations at the same grand prix, as his McLaren was stuck with a 60 place grid penalty. Lewis and Fernando took their places at the back of the grid, happy in the fact that all of those penalties were only applied to that one race.

When this situation occurred in the first two seasons of the new engine formula,  time penalties could be applied to the relevant car. In 2014, the grid penalties could also be carried over to the following race.

So for 2017, the FIA will apply some common sense and close the loophole that will prevent teams from taking ‘free’ units without penalty. FIA statement read:


“During any single event, if a driver introduces more than one of a power unit element that is subject to penalty, Only the last element fitted may be used at subsequent events without further penalty. This is to prevent the stockpiling of spare power unit elements.”

Does this completely close the loop though? Can’t be simple as this is formula one.


5 responses to “Engine loop closed for 17

  1. already “single” event. what does single mean? practice, quali? the whole weekend?
    also, is it the “driver” introducing the power unit? not the team? one can argue that.
    and, say they introduce 10 elements, they only get penalized for using the “last” element at subsequent events, but not if they use the previous elements in the race after that?

    I really want to meet the guy that writes these rules.

    • An “event” is a Grand Prix meeting (i.e., the whole weekend). Practice and quali are *sessions* within that event.

      Yes, technically the team introduces the component and not the driver. However, if they said “the team” then if both drivers required a new PU at the same event, the one who had their unit changed first would not be allowed to use it again! If they said “car” and not “driver” then there would be a potential loophole with switching chassis around for a particular driver. By saying “driver” I think it is clear.

      Regarding your last complaint, you have misread the regulation. They would get penalized for using _ALL BUT_ the last element. I.e., they can change it as many times as they like, but the one they end up fitting last is the one they have to carry through to any subsequent races (the rest must either be binned or, if used at a subsequent event, would be subject to the same penalty as the one being taken at the current event).

      This makes it pointless to fit more than one of any component during a race weekend unless the original replacements were also failing in some way. I guess there’s still a slight loophole in that if a component change is required then they could run a “burner” replacement during free practice and then replace it again for quali (effectively reducing wear on that component they are then obliged to carry forward), but it’s a bit of a risk in terms of set-up and bedding-in of that component to go straight into quali with it having never fitted it to a car.

  2. The use of the word driver maintains consistency in the terminology that is used throughout the power unit regulations for the designation of a limited number of elements throughout the season.

    As I read the new regulation, it is only the re-use of the final (“last”) replaced element which will prevent further penalty at a subsequent event. So if 3 MGU-H were replaced at a single event, in excess of the driver’s permitted allocation, only no3 could be used at a future event. If 1 and 2 were used – further penalty.

    Event means the whole GP weekend (Sporting Regulation 2.2 “…”Event means any event entered into the FIA Formula One Championship Calendar for any year commencing at the scheduled time for scrutineering and sporting checks and including all practice and the race itself and ending at the later of the time for the lodging of a protest under the terms of the Code and the time when a technical or sporting certification has been carried out under the terms of the Code.. .”) Otherwise the regulations would use different terminology – session, for example

  3. In some ways grid penalties can have limited effect, especially in the case of the top teams. Look how little of a penalty it turned out to be for Lewis.

    I’d say it would be more sensible to have a finishing penalty. For each item you change, the maximum finishing position you can be awarded is reduced. That would have more of an effect as it is a guaranteed hit to the points you can score so the teams will minimise what they replace, rather than throwing the kitchen sink at it.

    • That will result in strange tacktics and a podium where the one who finished first isn’t on the podium. That won’t help the sport getting a bigger audience.

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