High-level sources have revealed that the topic of engine equalisation has been added to the agenda of next week’s meeting of the F1 Commission that is to take place at the Belgian Grand Prix.
It is understood that the issue has been tabled following analysis by the FIA about the performance of the current power units, fuelled by concerns from French manufacturer Alpine that its Renault engine is not on a par with rivals.
According to sources, the examination of the power units’ performance indicates that the Renault is estimated to have a power deficit of approximately 15-25Kw (20-33hp) compared to its competitors.
Both Renault and the FIA have refrained from providing any statement regarding the issue.
Given the current minimal difference in performance between teams, a power imbalance like this could significantly impact the aspirations of the Alpine team.
Renault finds it particularly frustrating since they are unable to make improvements due to the engine freeze until 2025. The power units have strict limitations on what can be altered, making it challenging for them to enhance their performance.
The FIA technical regulations are explicit that modifications to the power units can be made from now on only “for the sole purposes of reliability, safety, cost saving, or minimal incidental changes.”
The FIA believes that there is evidence of performance disparities emerging, which may warrant taking action to address the issue and create a more balanced playing field.
In the past, engine equalisation has occurred in F1. It was implemented during the V8 era in 2007 to address the situation where certain manufacturers had taken advantage of reliability modifications to enhance their performance, resulting in an unfair advantage. This measure aimed to level the playing field.
Before the implementation of the current F1 engine freeze in 2022, it was determined that there would be no provisions in the regulations to enable equalization. This decision was made based on the belief that the performances were already sufficiently similar.
If the F1 Commission meeting decides to address the matter of engine equalization, the method of achieving it remains uncertain. It cannot be assumed that Renault will have unrestricted freedom to make enhancements.
Renault power unit detail
Photo by: Renault
In 2009, during a formal investigation conducted by the FIA to examine possible differences in engine performance, the governing body stated that any attempts to achieve equality would involve limiting the performance of the leading power units.
After a meeting of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council in September, a statement was released stating that if there is a difference in engine performance in F1, teams may choose to equalize it by reducing the power of the stronger engines. However, no engine upgrades will be permitted.
No consensus was ultimately reached regarding actions to equalize the situation, causing the issue to be disregarded.
In the past few years, there have been numerous requests to level the playing field for turbo hybrids in situations where Mercedes was leading or Renault was lagging behind. However, the FIA did not acknowledge or address these appeals.
The upcoming F1 Commission gathering in Belgium will cover various important matters, such as deliberating on the possibility of implementing a ban on tyre blankets and considering potential modifications to the structure of sprint race weekends.