As F1 heads into the ultimate 5 races of a exceptional season, the 2 title contenders, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, have already suffered an engine penalty. If any of them have been to nonetheless set up new parts underneath the bonnet – and up to date races recommend Lewis Hamilton is way nearer to the precipice than his rival – it will definitely tip the struggle for the world title.
Despite the fact that some followers hate them, F1 has superb purpose to use engine penalties. They thus make it potential to scale back bills by limiting the variety of parts that a workforce can use (and due to this fact produce) throughout a season, whereas limiting improvement since these components have to be increasingly more enduring. If such penalties didn’t exist, F1 won’t have ten producers on the beginning grid this season, just because not all of them would have been in a position to justify their involvement, and there can be a higher efficiency hole between engine producers.
On this case, think about the penalties as a crucial evil. In actual fact, they don’t seem to be from yesterday. Within the later years of the V8 period, groups weren’t anticipated to exceed eight blocks per season. A restrict not often crossed because the solely drivers penalized throughout this era have been Felipe Massa (Singapore GP 2010), Rubens Barrichello (Abu Dhabi GP 2011) and Charles Pic (South Korean GP 2012). Notice that in 2013, nobody went as far as to make use of a ninth engine.
With the introduction of the turbocharged hybrid V6 engines in 2014, the restrictions turned extra extreme and extra complicated: the six parts that make up the powertrain have been restricted to 5 copies per yr. And regardless of the early days of this expertise and the reliability points, the groups have performed a superb job to not exceed these new limits. It was not till the Italian GP, 13th spherical of the yr, to see the primary penalized: Daniil Kvyat wanted to suit a sixth Renault V6 aboard his Toro Rosso throughout this occasion. Subsequently, Pastor Maldonado, Jean-Éric Vergne, Romain Grosjean, Sebastian Vettel and once more Kvyat, all powered by a Renault engine, suffered penalties.
Two issues occurred within the second season of the hybrid period: the restrict was lowered to 4 and Honda made its comeback within the premier class with a powertrain of questionable reliability. Thus, the Japanese engine producer has strategically collected penalties to check new components.
Six offenses have been dedicated in 2014. The next yr, there have been 37. Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, the 2 McLaren-Honda drivers, used as much as 12 copies of the identical half. Crazier nonetheless, the 2009 World Champion collected 55 penalty locations on the Mexican Grand Prix following varied adjustments of engine elements!
Because of a calendar prolonged to 21 occasions in 2016, the FIA raised the restrict to 5 copies per factor, thus decreasing the variety of penalties within the yr. However in 2017, the groups once more needed to bend to a restrict of 4. In 2018, the belt was tightened additional. Now the groups have been restricted to 3 parts for the V6, the turbo and the MGU-H, and even two parts for the MGU-Okay, the battery and the digital management field.
In 2021, within the eighth yr of the hybrid period, engine producers proceed to push the boundaries and the schedule continues to develop. It’s due to this fact tough to respect the FIA restrict, particularly when a provider like Mercedes is affected by a reliability downside. Of the eight drivers powered by the star model, solely Lando Norris and Lance Stroll have prevented falling again on the beginning grid… for the second.
The system continues to frustrate followers and drivers alike, however nobody has been in a position to provide you with a very good different, as Toto Wolff defined to Motorsport.com : “I believe the ability unit penalty system is kind of efficient. As a result of what we have now to keep away from is making energy models in such a means that they solely carry out at peak efficiency. on a couple of races. And should you change the foundations, and also you say ‘okay, there is no such thing as a grid penalty for the motive force, solely factors [en moins] for the producer ‘, it’s going to merely make that the groups, in case you are in a struggle for the drivers’ championship, will multiply the engines on the automotive [de ce pilote]. “
“I imagine that if we discover good options it will likely be price taking a look at them. It is complicated for brand spanking new followers to see that whatever the driver’s accountability, an engine penalty places him behind the grid. [ou le fasse reculer de] ten or 5 locations. And it is clearly not nice, however I haven’t got any options. “
One other proof of the imperfection of the present system issues the buildup of penalties. In actual fact, the extra a pilot adjustments components, the much less harshly he’s penalized. For instance, putting in a fourth factor triggers a decline of ten grid locations, then 5 locations for the sixth, seventh, eighth factor and past.
This line of regulation was launched when Honda was nonetheless having issue with its engine. Right this moment, a penalty could be strategically used to cost-effectively introduce a brand new V6 engine late within the season, as Mercedes has performed with Valtteri Bottas, as rivals painfully attempt to lengthen the life expectancy of their models. energy.
“I believe it was an outdated Honda behavior”Wolff added. “Whenever you’re in a state of affairs the place every part goes very badly and it’s a must to change components or a complete energy unit, you should not be penalized each race. It is nearly an anti rule. “Disgrace. I believe it is good however we have now to see how we do it sooner or later. This yr we have now paid the worth.”
Andreas Seidl acknowledged that the present system stays the best in limiting improvement and the seek for efficiency. “I clearly perceive that it isn’t perfect to have all these penalties”, defined the director of McLaren. “However to be sincere, I do not actually see an easy answer as a result of, for instance, should you determine to go to 4 engines as an alternative of three, we are going to all find yourself with 5 engines, as a result of then we are going to solely need to make a rotation [pour couvrir sans problème toute une saison]. “
“On the finish of the day, it simply reveals that every one the producers are placing a lot stress on one another that we’re all pushing the expertise to absolutely the restrict and even past, after which it ends in hassle or issues. you simply have to simply accept it and cope with it. “
In accordance with Marcin Budkowski, govt director of Alpine, engine producers can discover a flaw within the system, however there is no such thing as a purpose to take action. “Mainly, you design an engine to work in a sure means for a sure variety of kilometers”, did he declare. “There may be nothing within the laws to stop us from producing a damaged engine after three races, making adjustments each three races and chaining the penalties.”
“It is in all probability not a championship benefit. [Les règles] are there for price causes in fact, however nothing prevents us from designing a extra highly effective engine with a shorter life if we’re prepared to take penalties. “
Having beforehand labored for the FIA, Budkowski has already had the chance to consider alternate options: “Some folks hate grid penalties and, to date, I have never met a single fan of penalties. However I have been on the opposite aspect of the fence on the FIA. For years, j have considered another that might be higher than [le système actuel]. I didn’t discover any. It doesn’t suggest that there is not one, however we nonetheless have the least worst of options. “
“If we had [une limite d’éléments] of 4 and three as an alternative of three and two, we might in all probability see extra penalties being distributed. However would the engine producers take extra dangers and have to make use of a fifth [moteur] ? It is a unending story. “
“It’s a must to put a cease signal someplace. 4 and three, that might be extra suited to the season as a result of there can be much less penalties. It is a debate that we have now to have within the F1 Fee and people type of establishments for see the place we would like the cursor to be. Right this moment, growing the variety of engines means growing prices for everybody. “
If Budkowski is not on the FIA, Michael Masi remains to be there. The F1 race director is concerned in writing the foundations on penalties and in keeping with him, no questioning of the present system has taken place to date, and to make clear: “Every workforce follows the identical guidelines they usually all know from the beginning of the yr what number of powertrains, what number of gearboxes and what number of different sources they will use.”
“Everyone seems to be on the identical stage of understanding. Any workforce, particularly these within the struggle for the championship, will attempt to acquire as a lot aggressive benefit as wanted with enhancements within the energy unit, aerodynamic enhancements, no matter. “
The penalties on the grid are clearly not excellent and they are going to be even much less so if a penalty have been to play a vital position within the award of the 2021 title. However till the official proposal of a viable different addresses the important thing problems with spending and of the event race, F1 is caught with these unpopular penalties.