We discussed the concept of engine homologation and the regulations surrounding the notion of a engine specification “freeze” in performance and development earlier this week and one of the keys is the notion of “reliability upgrades”. Engine manufacturers are allowed to make upgrades to their engine for reliability purposes and at the end of the year, they will be allowed to make a certain amount of performance upgrades as well.

The process of making reliability upgrades is through application to the FIA and according to FIA technical director, Charlie Whiting, all three of the engine manufacturers in Formula 1 have already applied:

“They’ve all done already. We’ve had requests from everybody to change bits of the car on the engine for reliability reasons,” Whiting said.

“Ultimately, it’s for us to decide. But we do it in consultation with the other engine manufacturers – and everyone has so far actually done that in the two weeks that the engines have actually been homologated.”

The engines were homologated in February 28th but it seems that reliability upgrades have already been requested from Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault. It is one element of Formula 1 that has historically gone under the radar but with the raft of changes for 2014, it will be interesting to see how many changes each manufacturer makes to their homologated engine this season.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Matthew Snyder

    And now I’m reading that many, if not not most, of the teams are considering opting out of FP1 to make sure they have a car they can qualify.

    How can it be that so many teams could get it so comprehensively wrong? Granted, these are massive changes to the regs, all coming in at once. And the powerplants are hideously complicated. But come on…….. 18 hours to change an engine? You could race 12 grands prix in that time.

  • peterriva

    A suggestion for true F1 fans – let’s have a miserable, engine ca-blammo, no downforce, restricted run-out-of-gass, procession laps (boring) season where nothing works and nothing can be tested and the fans drift away – maybe only then the FIA and Bernie will get the hell out of the way and allow technology a free reign.

    The myriad of rules are in such conflict with one another (100kg of fuel, no testing, reduced front and back wings, double point farce, increased DRS… the list is endless) that the season seems exciting now because we WANT F1 back and exciting… just wait until we’re two races in. Snore…

    • jeff

      Playing devil’s advocate with respect:

      What do “true” F1 fans think of as F1 racing? What is the golden age? Unrestricted development? Drivers on the limit at all times? And, do we think the lack of above the cause of a perceived shrinking fan base?

      I ask because, save for perhaps the ’30’s-’50’s, F1, to me, has never been the above. The Formula has changed to limit engine size, aero, etc. since that time (and even before), at first primarily in safety terms, then performance gains and budget fears joined the mix..

      As technical limits/car speeds have increased, so have driver/spectator risks; Newey himself modeled a car that would require the driver wearing a G suit. This isn’t like the ’60’s, where drivers coped w/ the increased performance of more horsepower or mechanical grip. The world of aero, model-able engine/aero performance via technology has F1 reaching limits a physical body can’t cope with. And what type of catch-fencing could safely contain a car traveling, say, 290 mph down the straights and 230 mph around a sweeping corner? Safety, not just for the driver, but the crowd.

      What about the costs of that unrestricted car. As it is now, there’s no way a potential “Garagista” comes in, buys an engine/chassis/body package for around $5 million in today’s money and goes racing like in the 60’s, or even $20ish million (adjusted) in the ’80’s; Estimates rumored are $50-75 million just to field the team/car/logistics, with no development.

      Even for current established teams, the price gap is untenable; I don’t want to see Ferrari/Mercedes/Mclaren/Red Bull flying around the track by themselves because no one can afford the price of entry; F1’s governing body must limit development.

      I agree the implementation has been poor at times; I personally love the new engine Formula, but FIA ratifying it based upon cost-factors was bunk, as anyone could see. The namby-pamby micromanaging of the aforementioned engine regs, as well certain aero-rules, speaks to an organizing body missing fundamental causes-for-effects (no passing=lessening viewership etc.).

      What I feel we all must understand, myself included, is F1, in any iteration, is competing in it’s own current time. Since it began, it’s evolved and reinvented itself, usually with 1 eye on increasing performance, the other on containing competitiveness, then safety. The current era is simply being influenced by outside factors which are, IMO, far more intricate than at any point in the past.

      As it now stands, social media runs rampant, with it and general internet proliferation, the public is both better-informed (theoretically), and presented with more choices. This naturally leads to lower viewership, unless one embraces the new outlets (who thinks NFL/MLB would be as solvent w/o Fantasy Leagues, Team-twitter benefits, and so on), with which F1 has sadly been inept.

      F1 understands something must be done revenue-wise to compensate for the racing’s rampant cost-escalation, and they feel viewership will increase due to certain perceived artifices (DRS). That is F1’s mistake IMO, that they’ve failed to recognize the nature and intimacy of viewer participation has changed, and their constant Formula-tweaking’s unlikely to increase/stop the ebb of viewership.

      Sorry for a rambling post that (as always is unedited); I just am confused when a declared true or real F1 fan speaks of a Golden Age; I’ve never seen one myself.

      • peterriva

        Well Jeff, you are right, mostly. I am one of the old geezers who remembers Hill (x2), Clark, Brabham, Surtees, etc.
        My point really is not to say there should be no restrictions, I get that. But to make all the engines the same (size/fuel input/blown) then to restrict the fuel to 100kg, add artifice like DRS, and so on… the whole thing comes down to sameness.
        I yearn for one aspect of yesteryear (not the danger, lack of safety, etc.): difference. One make was good at Spa, one at Monza, one at Monaco. It was the drivers’ abilities to wrestle their cars. That’s why Alonso in 2012 was such fun to watch. That’s why Kimi is always fun to watch. Wring the damn thing out, push it beyond its capabilities. Make up for deficiencies, capitalize on certain circuits, etc.
        With the circuits becoming safety playgrounds (huge run-offs), we all yearn for that place on each circuit where we can see car and driver excel. Kimi at Spa, Hamilton at Silverstone, Alonso in Spain, Vettel, well, anywhere so far.
        I understand and agree with you, mostly, but all this year’s gimmicks may just turn this into a procession – and that is boring.

        • jeff

          Gotcha, Thanks Peter, and agree with you; that micromanaging of Formula details equals homologous cars, and that sucks. As mentioned somewhere else, if “Green” was a marching point, limit fuel-flow or fuel-used would have been sufficient, let the engineers figure out layout and so on.

          F1 is sticking bandaids on perceived and real problems with the above, rather than recognize/act upon fundamental issues.

          Hopefully, JIJI and my feelings are correct, that big less rear downforce and consequently longer braking zones, big torque and it’s potential for sideways moments, and unique cooling solutions lead to the exciting, and more important the individual and easily-recognized racing we all crave.

          • peterriva

            well, I too hope so… but of everything limited this year, the fuel issue has me the most worried.
            Start with engined turned up, gain places to the front, have to coast the rest of the way?
            Leave the fuel for later and drop into the pack, only to fight(crash) later to try and get points?
            The idea of the race for points will be more critical than ever.
            People like Ross Brawn (away for a year) – the master tacticians – will be vital to any wins this year, when to burn fuel, when to economize.
            Hmm… I wonder if Flavio’s tactical methods could help leaders in any team this year?

          • jeff

            Just a quick re: fuel. The last few years, cars were managing fuel, but also tires. I think that’s why we saw them just coasting to deltas.

            With this year’s reg’s, IMO it’ll be different. The engines will power down, but it’ll be via ECU in addition to maps, and the tires are supposedly hardier. Whilst this means the pace will slow down, I believe the drivers will be pushing hard, and that’s the necessary difference.

            Eg: I have a 997 , and was privileged recently to drive a 930 Turbo (1st of the 911 turbo’s). My car is much faster in every way, and on a curvy road w/ the 930 owner was able to pace him while well-within my driver limits.

            The 930, at all times, I felt like I was near my road limits. Despite driving below max limits on both the car and (I think) me, the monstrous turbo lag, unpredictable rear, and so on had me “entertained.”

            Point is, a driver pushing, no matter the speed, is where I believe the entertainment comes in, and added to a more-unruly car, could lead to spectacular racing.

            Aside: In NO way am I equating my driving skill to a professional racing driver, nor a road car to race car. Just for those who would blame my 930 excitement on crappy driver; you’re probably right :)

  • Jiji the cat

    Too much doom and gloom predicted.
    Personally I’m a glass half full person.
    If Merc dominate we can see a great fight between Nico and Hamilton hamster ala 1988 Prost and senna.
    We will have the reliability issues that made F1 unpredictable prior to the 00’s.
    We will see longer breaking zones leading to more opportunities for passing.
    We will see flat out driving as the tyres have a wider operational window and lower degradation. The fuel flow is ( to my understanding) software controlled which means the drivers don’t have to back off.
    Put these factors all together and we will have some very interesting tactical battles and decisions to be made on the fly.
    Isn’t this how F1 was throughout its glory days?

    • jeff

      Agree 100%, and have said in maybe 150 words would I’ve tried to say in maybe 5 posts and 1500 words. Can I hire you as an editor? :D

      • jiji the cat

        lol. im a man (cat) of few words. maybe its an aussie thing of being direct and straight to the point. ;)

        I don’t like the band aids like most of you, but none the less i think we are in for an interesting season to say the least.

        as far as viewing audiences going down, i think its a generational thing that FOM are failing to grasp. I used to work for a national broadcaster (TV) here in Aus, and audience numbers are down across all the broadcasters. We now live in a world of “On Demand”. FOM need to make F1 an on demand sport. Any fan at anytime of the year should be able to watch the race when they want to not when the TV stations and FOM dictate. They also need to pump out lots of info and tech vids etc for on demand services. This (in my opinion) is where FOM are going wrong, and i think its due (mostly) to old men in suits that just don’t understand. There is a need for a holistic approach.
        As soon as the broadcasters here in Aus realised this, the audience numbers grew again.

        Also i think there needs to be someone to come in and maximise, market, etc etc the merchandising. Another area where F1 is failing its fans.

  • jcm

    get rid of double-points, raise the minimum weight a bit, increase the fuel allowance, and raise the rev limit to 20 000 (just to make those darned engines sound a little more interesting), and i’d be ok with all the changes.

    also, hire a high-profile, young, social-media savvy media relations/promotion guy or gal, and get this sport into the 21st century–>it’s ironic that bronze age nascar-racing is so well marketed while formula1 is still in the dark ages.

  • jiji the cat

    wow… are these the dullest sounding racing engines ever?

    • Shocks & Awe

      No, GP3 engines are. But not by much.