FIA begins decision process on 2021 engine regulations

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Formula One's governing body, the FIA hosted a meeting on Friday in Paris to discuss the direction the Formula One Championship should take regarding the power unit regulation after 2020 when the current engine formula runs out.

The sport saw a radical change on the engine side in 2014 when the hybrid power units were introduced. Those were aimed to improve efficiency. To save costs, the number of power units for drivers were strictly limited and the development of the units proceeded in the so called token system which seriously limited the way manufacturers could work on their own power units.

The new formula introduced Mercedes' power domination into the sport, thanks to their effective first solution, to which it was impossible to close the gap with the development limitations in place. The regulations was subsequently changes for 2017 to end up with a more closely matched field of competitors. However, the number of power units remained to be limited in only four in 2017 which is a huge ask after the thorough development, rebuilding carried over by each manufacturer during the winter period.

Ferrari seems to have made strides in its pursuit to close in the gap. The eased rules, however, resulted in a setback for Honda and partly for Renault as neither have yet managed to close the gap, despite introducing largely redesigned engines.

To wind up the inequality between the various power units, FIA is set to work out a plan to measure the pure performance of each power unit in the coming weeks. The governing body, then, sends the results to the F1 Strategy Group for further discussion as it seeks for ways to equalise the performances of the different power units.

On Friday, a meeting was held in Paris which was attended by key F1 shareholders, the new Commercial Rights Holders, current power unit suppliers and independent suppliers not involved in F1.

The current engine formula runs out at the end of 2020 which means for the 2021, the championship can introduce a new power unit configuration. The meeting was successful and the participant could agree on the way the sport needs to head for the future.

All parties agreed the areas the sport has to put its focus on: improving the sound of the power units, a desire to allow drivers to drive harder at all times, striving for power units to be powerful, but less costly, to maintain F1 as the pinnacle of motorsport, and as a laboratory for developing technology which is relevant to road cars.

“I was very pleased with the process, and the fact that so many different stakeholders were able to agree on a direction for the FIA Formula One World Championship in such an important technical area,” said FIA President Jean Todt.

“Of course, now we must sit down and work through the fine details of exactly what the 2021 power units will be – but we have begun on the right foot, and I am looking forward to working through the process to come up with the best decision for Formula One into the future,” concluded the Frenchman.

The parties now have two months’ time to come up with possible engine configurations and then present their own ideas to the FIA.