The idea of implementing a measure to balance the power units amongst manufacturers was brought up by the FIA at this week’s F1 Commission meeting, according to F1 Flow.com, which released the information during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.
The move is believed to have been sparked by worries about the Renault engine, used by Alpine, lagging behind its competitors, potentially by as much as 30hp.
Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer, without confirming the exact numbers, confessed that the French manufacturer is trailing behind its competitors, which is negatively impacting its competitiveness.
He stated, “All the teams and the FIA conduct their own analysis,” when asked about his engine’s standing compared to rivals. “We are significantly behind.”
Even though teams usually aren’t inclined to give performance advantages to competitors, the topic of equalization during a power unit freeze presents a different scenario.
Given that the current homologated engines prevent Renault from enhancing its power units, it creates a somewhat unfair situation for those who are lagging.
Red Bull boss Horner believes that if the FIA can demonstrate a discrepancy between the engines, it would be appropriate to make changes to ensure a balanced competition.
When asked about his views on engine equalization by F1 Flow.com, Horner said: “It’s about identifying the deficits. The FIA has all the data and should disclose what the differences are.
“It would be intriguing for everyone to see, and if there’s a disadvantage under homologation, we should have a reasonable discussion about it, or else we’re stuck with it for two years. I wouldn’t object to a sensible conversation.”
Horner has previously advocated for equalization in the early turbo hybrid years when dealing with a Renault engine that lagged behind the benchmark power units of Mercedes and Ferrari.
Szafnauer expressed his support for Horner’s viewpoint, particularly since the engines were frozen from 2022 to 2025 to assist Red Bull in using Honda engines after the Japanese manufacturer’s F1 departure.
Szafnauer explained, “I’m glad Christian voiced that because the engine freeze was initially due to Honda’s exit and Red Bull’s lack of an engine development department.
“We all agreed for Red Bull’s sake, so it’s nice that Christian acknowledges this.
“Also, at the time of the agreement, there was a mutual understanding among engine manufacturers that if anyone fell short by 1%, there would be good faith negotiations to restore parity.”
Despite the power units being frozen since the beginning of 2022, Szafnauer posits that the competitive landscape has changed as competitors have benefited from reliability enhancements.
He remarked, “Everyone is allowed to address their reliability issues and, hidden within these issues, can sometimes be power upgrades. It all depends on what reliability issue you’re fixing.
Szafnauer recalled, “In 2007, when we froze the V8s, I was the one receiving all requests from other teams for Honda. The requests were all centered around cost-saving and reliability.
“I would forward them to the appropriate engineers. However, there’s a lot that can be disguised as reliability improvements, which can then increase power.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about F1 engine equalisation
What is the FIA considering introducing to F1?
The FIA is considering introducing a mechanism to balance the power units among the various manufacturers in Formula 1.
Why has the idea of engine equalization been proposed?
The idea of engine equalization has been proposed due to concerns that the Renault engine, used by the Alpine team, has fallen behind rivals and could be as much as 30hp less powerful.
What does Red Bull’s team boss, Christian Horner, think about engine equalization?
Christian Horner supports engine equalization. He believes that if the FIA can demonstrate a disparity between the engines, it would be fair to take steps to level the playing field.
Why were the engines frozen from 2022 to 2025?
The engines were frozen from 2022 to 2025 to aid Red Bull in continuing to use Honda engines, following the Japanese manufacturer’s withdrawal from F1.
What has changed in the competitive picture since the power units were frozen in 2022?
Since the power units were frozen in 2022, Alpine’s Team Principal, Otmar Szafnauer, believes that the competitive landscape has shifted as rivals have benefited from making reliability upgrades, which can sometimes serve as power upgrades.