The F1 Strategy Group is expected to discuss the regulations around the use of one-year old engines during its next meeting, due to take place next Monday.
As reported by Autosport, the Manor Marussia team was permitted to use 2014-spec Ferrari powerunits this season by exploiting a loophole in the sporting legislation, which required only concessionary permission to use such units.
While the technical regulations (Appendix 4) were subsequently tightened to ensure all teams were competing on a level playing field, it is believed that the guidelines around this matter could be subject to further change.
It is understood that the proposed changes would enable teams to run a different specification under the guise of ‘Current -1’, in order to differentiate the powerunits.
Bob Fernley, Deputy Team Principal of Force India, spoke with Autosport on this subject: “That’s been discussed for a while. Fundamentally it’s the same as Marussia are doing this year, running a ’14 engine in ’15”.
Costs and opportunities
The potential savings of using a year-old engine are believed to be one of the driving forces behind the rules review by the F1 Strategy Group.
This year’s powerunits cost between £15-20m per season – a considerable jump from the £7m annual cost at the end of the V8 era. With a number of teams on the grid facing financial issues, this approach could guarantee reliable power at a more affordable price.
Furthermore, with regulations restricting the number of teams supplied by a single manufacturer, it remains to be seen how the ‘Current -1’ rules would affect this.
Should the governance of such supplies be relaxed, it could well mean that Red Bull would be able to secure Mercedes Benz power after all, albeit with a lower output than those running the current season powerunits.
The outcome of the Strategy Group meeting is expected to be announced in late September.