Steps taken against Mercedes dominance



2017 engines: a token improvement?

The token development system was introduced together with the launch of the V6 1600 cc turbo engines.

The target was to control engine development cost. Without going into all details of the token system , it was designed to make it more difficult to introduce eleborate updates, and thus into less opportunity for manufacturers to develop engines. This should convert into manufacturers spending less time and resources on engine development, lowering total engine cost. This would give teams to possibility to lower their budgets, so more teams to continue racing while still being competitive.

Has it worked? Well, yours truly would like to reply that question with a two-fold “No”.

“No” number 1
Mercedes totally upset the system by investing a lot at the start of the V6 development cycle. This resulted in their first version of their engine which was clearly superior to the rest of the field. On top, the token measure had a nasty side effect: it was harder for other engine manufacturers to catch up. Mercedes’ lead simply was too big. This translated in their current worldchampionship hattrick.

The token system has been a major reason for Mercedes’ dominance.

Renault did the reverse, and invested less at the start of the v6 cycle. Their return on investment was a big and nasty fight with Red Bull. (One which was openly fought through the press. We can only imagine the marketing nightmare for Renault…)

“No” number 2
The idea was that manufacturers could survive with smaller budgets (since engine cost would be lower) and still be competitive. Obviously, the larger teams had no need to lower their budgets, and if money was saved on the cost of engines, it was happily spent on other areas of development. This resulted in complex multi-layered wings and other aero nicknacks, and gaps between teams remained the same.

The token system did not bring the field closer together, had no cost-saving result, and has no entertainment value. It thus needed to be scrapped, and so it has for the coming season.

2017 sees the end of the token system. Will it change the situation, end Mercedes’ dominance and make for better and/or closer racing?

This might not be the case. Mercedes still has a lead. While technicians can continue to develop engines, upgrades can only be introduced a couple of times per year, since teams are only allowed 4 engines per season. Larger teams might want to just take the punishments for using a 5th or even a 6th engine, and this might prove too expensive for smaller teams.

Yours truly estimates it is a step in the good direction, but it might not be enough to make more teams eligible for wins. And isn’t that what we want to see?

6 responses to “Steps taken against Mercedes dominance

  1. Hats off to the non English speakers for writing as often as they do. Its interesting to read viewpoints from around the world but please, surely someone can run a quick edit here…

  2. Dear mr Teapot,
    per your request I cleaned up the article a bit. I wrote the first version enjoying a nice glass of distilled liquid, after my editor software mangled up the piece 3 times. Find me on twitter if you still care to criticize and open up a direct message channel, so we can communicate. I am always open to learn something. I am reveling in anticipation.

    • Nice – if depressing – article Jefe. In defence of the e-steam-ed Mr Teapot: I don’t think his comment was meant as a direct criticism of yourself. I think it was more an expression of surprise that there (seemingly) is no proof-reading and correcting of articles before they’re posted to the site. Maybe The Judge should request volunteers for a proofing pool where whoever has time to do it first picks up an article and proofs it for posting? I would volunteer.

      • Dear Paul,
        I always try to find the diamond in a pile of mud. So criticism is always appreciated as long as it serves the purpose of improvement. I have multiple people direct messaging me through Twitter with remarks. Don’t always use immediately (social media is nice, it is not life itself) but I try to keep the interesting stuff stored in the big garbage can between the ears.

        Proofreading: I will throw it in the group and see what comes out. In any case: I appreciate the offer! If once in a while, you feel the need to write something yourself: just let me know.

  3. Another reason the token system was abandoned was that potential new entrants could / would be deterred from developing an engine. Look at the problems Honda have had. And it would have been worse for a major manufacturer to establish a team knowing that by 2019 only 5% of the PU could be developed and by 2020 development frozen.

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