Formula 1

Early F1 engine development freeze agreed for 2022

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

Formula 1’s stakeholders have unanimously agreed to implement an early engine freeze.

Under the existing rules, engine development was set to be halted for three seasons starting in 2023.

But a motion to bring the engine freeze forward to the start of the 2022 season was finally tabled on Thursday at a meeting of the F1 Commission and The Race understands it received unanimous support.

It means manufacturers will still have the opportunity to update their engines for new, increased-percentage synthetic fuels for 2022, while Red Bull gets its wish for development to be frozen sooner than planned.

This will allow Red Bull to take over Honda’s engines after the Japanese manufacturer’s withdrawal and not have to maintain their development.

Max Verstappen Red Bull RB16 F1

Part of the initial debate had been over whether F1 would incorporate a system that artificially boosted the performance of any manufacturer that begins 2022 with a major engine deficit.

Ferrari and Red Bull were keen on this so-called method of convergence, potentially achieved by increasing fuel-flow rates, but it was met with opposition from Mercedes and Renault.

The Race understands that there was no discussion of such a plan in today’s meeting, suggesting it will not be part of the final regulations.

“In a significant development for the sport that reflects the unity and collaborative spirit between the FIA, Formula 1 and the teams, a vote on the freeze of power unit development was undertaken during the meeting, and the proposal was unanimously agreed by all teams and power unit manufacturers,” said an FIA statement. “As such, engine development will be frozen from the start of 2022.”

The meeting also included discussions over a proposal for a Saturday sprint race, which is said to have been met with a positive response but a vote did not occur. It will be discussed again at a later date.

A driver salary cap was also on the agenda but also awaits a resolution.

F1 drivers 2020

F1’s commitment to an early engine freeze almost certainly means the next-generation engine will be brought forward from 2026 as well.

That was a proposal all continuing manufacturers have expressed support for, depending on the regulations.

Feb 11 : What the 2022 engine freeze means for F1 and Red Bull-Honda

It has been stated by various stakeholders that F1 needs to find a way to reduce the cost and complexity of its engine rules, as the V6 turbo-hybrid era approaches its eighth season.

However, F1’s desire to remain relevant for automotive manufacturers and promote sustainability has created a divisive issue as there is no unanimous agreement over which technology to adopt.

Options include just carbon-neutral fuels as the sustainability focal point, allowing F1 to reduce its hybrid tech, or embracing even more hybrid power but through a simpler system.

The key objectives for the 2025 power unit are “environmental sustainability and social and automotive relevance, fully sustainable fuel, creating a powerful and emotive power unit, significant cost reduction” and working on the “attractiveness to new power unit manufacturers”.

New F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali told Sky Sports F1 last month that other manufacturers are interested and suggested F1 can appeal to new brands even if the technology itself is not directly transferable.

“We are in discussion with other manufacturers that for the moment prefer to stay quiet,” he said.

“But the good news is that there are other very important companies that are really keen to understand what is the value of using the F1 platform, not only in terms of technology,” he says.

“I think that one of the biggest challenges that automotive manufacturers have today is to be [viewed as] younger. There is this kind of fight between the old school of OEM [original equipment manufacturer] and the new OEM that are coming in the mobility side.

“We are not part of the mobility side, in terms of what we want to achieve as a sport. But I think that OEMs can use that platform to also change the fresh image they may need for the future.”

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