F1 team principals predict tighter field as freezing begins
One of few elements to remain untouched by the 2021 regulatory changes is the power units, as F1 will stick to the V6 turbo-hybrid set-up it adopted in 2014. This will allow teams and manufacturers to continue with the development steadily.
It is something which many F1 engine manufacturers in the sport are ‘convinced’ will decrease the performance gap between the four suppliers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – with power unit convergence, as the years go by.
Many of these F1 suppliers also feel that ‘freezing’ development – a practice which involves preventing further improvements within the power unit – will be a good idea and something which is already in place with certain elements which has hit the limit mark.
“I think we are all convinced on that convergence will happen, said Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto. “The reason that we are all convinced is that the rules that we have all accepted are defined. There will be lines of restriction and therefore we believe that there will no longer be the necessity to develop as we are developing now.
“There will even be some freezing opportunities, also the power unit and the fact that we are starting freezing some of the components is that believe that there is only a very marginal benefit at some stage in developing and it’s good for the sustainability to start freezing and reducing the dyno activity.
“So, yes, we are all convinced that F1 power units will come to a convergence. I think we are already converging and in the next period that will happen, certainly.” The grid leaders Mercedes’ Toto Wolff agrees with his rival and counterpart in convergence case.
“I think you will see, over the long-term [the] trend on engine performance is that it will stabilise,” said Wolff. “I think we have seen outliers in engine performance, we have seen very good races with Ferrari, we have seen Renault doing a step up.
“The same way that has stretched us so I think, looking over many years’ cycle, these gains will get smaller, like in any mature industry, the marginal gains tend to decrease and I have no doubt that this will happen.”
The other major engine supplier in F1, Renault, slightly differed in opinion, as Cyril Abiteboul, thought it would be a shame to lose the power unit development side but on the front of convergence, however, he did agree with his competitors.
“I think that the stability of regulations is showing that actual performance is converging which is good for the sport,” said Abiteboul. “I continue to believe that there are some breakthroughs to come that will come with new processes, with new materials, so that’s interesting, so you should watch this space and see what it still has to offer.
“It’s a bit unfortunate that we can’t really talk about all the innovations because of all the secrets, of all the IP that’s involved and all the investments that are associated. Our engineers keep on having lots of ideas and that’s great to see. We’ve recruited a lot of young guys, coming from university.
“They are not necessarily passionate about F1 but I can tell you that they are passionate about doing what they are doing in the field of the internal combustion engine and power in general and that’s good and extremely refreshing so I think it’s good that F1 keeps on having this field of innovation for engines in general.”
Honda also spoke on the topic, and mentioned component freezing, as Racing Point and Haas confirmed it will happen. However, it remains unclear what parts will be frozen in the coming years.
[Note: This article was written by me on FormulaRapida, and edited by Darshan Chokhani]