The FIA has confirmed the regulations governing the 2017 to 2020 power units, following an agreement reached between the governing body, the four power unit manufacturers and the Commercial Rights Holder.
With the agreement reached by the World Motor Sport Council, these regulations will be included in the Technical and Sporting Regulations starting in 2017 and 2018.
Cost cutting is the primary objective of the new regs, although it’s one of four key areas outlined within the regulations. The others are supply, performance convergence and sound.
The cost cutting element first: in 2017, the power unit price for customer teams will be reduced by €1 million per season compared to 2016.
That’s the first step towards an even further reduction in 2018, with the annual supply cost to be reduced by a further €3 million.
The regulations seek to reduce the number of power units used per driver per season. Currently, the allowed number is four, with penalties coming into play if or when drivers exceed that number at a given point.
Supply is the next objective outline, with the regulations stating that the homologation will include an “obligation to supply” if a team were to face an absence of supply.
This hasn’t been an issue this year but could have propped up had Red Bull not got its own deal sorted. The key difference in phrasing is here is “obligation” and not “disagreement with supply.” The team has extended with its rebadged TAG Heuer (nee Renault) engines this year.
When we get to performance convergence, the token system for upgrades will be removed for 2017. Previously, each manufacturer had been allowed a certain number over the course of the year.
Finally on the sound component, the statement from the FIA reads: “Manufacturers are currently conducting a promising research programme into further improving the sound of the current power units, with the aim of implementation by 2018 at the latest.”
The 1.6L V6 turbos introduced in 2014 came under a fair bit of scrutiny for being quieter than the previous generation 2.4L V8s normally aspirated engines that ran through 2013. But there have been changes in pitch this year in particular and they’re on their way to being a more pleasing sound – all depends on the ear of course.
The 2017 regulations have been a hot topic this weekend in Sochi as the regulations were meant to be sorted in February, but delayed until the end of April. Figure there should be more to come with regards to the technical regulations in the coming days, if not hours.