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Formula 1

Renault and Ferrari explain lack of engine upgrades

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

Ferrari and Renault have not introduced engine upgrades for the 2020 Formula 1 season opener in Austria, and will therefore contest the whole campaign with their initial specifications of power unit.

F1 has put a freeze on engine development in place as part of its cost-saving mandate amid the coronavirus pandemic.

This means that each of the four manufacturers will have to see out the season with the very same spec they put on track for the Austrian Grand Prix, with the exception of changes for reliability purposes.

Mercedes has brought a revised engine to the Red Bull Ring opener with the aim of improving reliability, whereas Honda’s Austria upgrade is believed to come with additional power as well.

But both Ferrari, whose engine powers its works team, Haas and Alfa Romeo, and Renault, which has McLaren as its sole customer, have stuck with the same spec that would’ve contested the cancelled Australian Grand Prix back in March.

“We’ve got the same engines we had at the time in Australia,” Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto said.

“We shut down the factory for a long time so there has been very little time to develop. We didn’t bring anything different, now the engine, the power unit, is frozen for the season.

“I know that other manufacturers had the opportunity to continue working, developing, we’re aware of that they could eventually [have] an advantage.

“That’s part of the game, I think that’s part of all the entire compromises we have accepted during the shutdown, looking ahead for the good of the sport.”

Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul said the lack of engine development on his company’s end was a similar case of the “trade-offs and sacrifices that we’ve made in order to manage a crisis that’s been extremely severe.”

“We’re talking about a very large reduction of the prize fund, we are also in discussion with sponsors that have been very loyal but that are all facing challenges in their own business,” Abiteboul added.

“We had to come up with some decisions, and one of those decisions we did, as far as we’re concerned, is that we’re going to pause engine development, focusing on what will be the next step that we will have the opportunity to discuss later.

“But indeed that means don’t expect any engine upgrade for us this year.”

F1’s engine manufacturers will be able to introduce a new power unit specification for the start of 2021, and will be permitted to make one upgrade for each major component that year and the year after – before freezing the power units completely for 2023 and 2024.

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