Last month’s F1 Commission meeting at the Belgian Grand Prix saw the discussion of engine parity come up. Alpine had asserted that its power source, supplied by Renault, was underperforming by as much as 30bhp when compared to the engines of Ferrari, Mercedes, and Honda.
At the moment, F1 has frozen its engine performance regulations. This led Renault to prioritize boosting power in their 2022 split-turbo engine design, even if it meant compromising on durability.
Under current rules, a team is only permitted to alter its engine configuration to enhance its longevity, not its performance. In light of this, Alpine’s management convened meetings with other teams to see if there was any consensus on adopting measures to level the playing field performance-wise.
Ferrari’s F1 chief, Fred Vasseur, was skeptical about the magnitude of the issue. Vasseur contended that while exceptions might be made for manufacturers whose engines are “dramatically subpar,” he wasn’t convinced that Renault was in that category.
Toto Wolff of Mercedes has now echoed this sentiment. According to Mercedes’ own assessments, Renault’s engine performance doesn’t exceed a 3% deficit compared to its competitors, which wouldn’t qualify for any special allowances.
When questioned about whether Renault should get extra development time, Wolff, hailing from Austria, pointed out, “The regulations were designed so that by 2026, if any constructor lags behind by more than 3% compared to the top-performing power unit, they’d get more time on the dynamometer. We’re in the middle of these rules, which are currently frozen, but I agree with Fred; we’re not seeing a gap anywhere near 3%.”
Wolff further insisted that making impromptu adjustments to the regulations was not an option. He said, “We can’t just rewrite the rulebook willy-nilly because a team is underperforming. If changes need to be made, they can be implemented in the next cycle of regulations. But as of now, the 3% boundary serves us well, and there’s no need for any impromptu adjustments like allowing higher fuel flow.”
Wolff warned, “Figure it out on your own—just like we’d have to if we were in the same situation. You already have extra dyno time. So, sort out your issues independently.”
End of article.
(Photo by: Erik Junius of Esteban Ocon in the Alpine F1 A523)