Un-Freeze more Test less ??


Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Valued Member
The freeze on engine development is unpopular with fans and teams alike. The idea that a team can develop a superb engine but then the rules allow them to maintain that advantage until the FIA says the other teams can have a go at catching up with them is absurd.

While I was driving home the other day this idea popped into my head and I thought I would stick it on here for debate. How about removing the engine freeze rules and all rules that restrict development of equipment but limit the amount of testing depending on where you finish in the world championship at the end of the season. I.E. 1st to 8th get two close season test sessions. 9th to 16th get three and 17th to whatever get four. All teams would have the option to run in fewer tests but not in more than their allocated amount.

There would be the temptation of course for teams with nothing to play for at the end of the season to hold back their drivers in order to finish outside the top 8 or outside the top 16 to get more post season testing time. Teams who do this would do so with the loss of final place money which could be adjusted to reflect a bigger gap between 8/9 and 16/17 to discourage this.

My theory is that this would give teams towards the lower end more time to develop their cars and to catch up with those at toward the front while not restricting development. Also teams at the front end of the grid can spend more on development but will spend less on testing while those with smaller budgets who can't afford R&D on their cars and engines can gain more data from testing. In theory it could be fairly cost neutral when compared to current rules.
It's an interesting idea and I prefer it to a lot of the suggestions I've heard about helping the new/lesser teams. F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle after all - you don't see the Premier League bailing out football clubs in financial trouble, do you? Oh, er, wait...never mind :D

The trouble with the testing restrictions has been that teams have looked at their factory simulation tools and beefed them up massively, to the point where it seems there is little need for track testing. When you look at what McLaren did to their car last season without a single day of testing, it's unbelievable, and would have been unthinkable even five years ago.

So I fear that while the motivation is a good one, unfreezing engines in particular would be a much bigger plus for the manufacturer teams than the loss of testing would be a minus.

What's the answer? I don't know. Maybe we need an official supplier to the FIA. For example: Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault can develop all they like through the season. Any teams who can't afford one of those engines can use a standard Cosworth, built to cost price. At the end of the season the manufacturers have to submit detailed designs of their latest engines to the FIA, who then send the data on to Cosworth, who then use it to inform development of their next engine. There's freedom, but nobody is left behind (or not dramatically so, at least).

Probably lots of I.P. rights issues there, but I only just thought of it...
I don't know why F1 doesn't do like many other series have- go with air restrictors. I would then eliminate the mandated engine configuration. That way, you might see normally aspirated 12 cylinders vs forced induction 3 cylinders or any other configuration that could be competitive. Giving the engineers a freer hand in this area would greatly increase the relevance of F1 to todays automotive world by coming up with new technologies to get the most power with the least amount of fuel used.
Top Bottom