Engine penalties simplified and Honda granted extra engine by FIA
Strategy Group proposals adopted by WMSC for Hungarian GP onwards, while F1 superlicence rules also tweaked
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 10/07/15 11:31pm
The FIA has rubber-stamped the simplification of F1’s controversial power unit penalties and the granting of an additional engine to Honda with immediate effect.
Both items were proposals agreed upon by the F1 Strategy Group ahead of last weekend’s British Grand Prix but needed the sign off of first the F1 Commission and then the World Motor Sport Council before they could be inserted into the Sporting Regulations.
With the WMSC holding their latest meeting in Mexico City on Friday – at which a provisional 21-race calendar for 2016 was also announced – the body confirmed that the complicated system for applying grid drops for drivers exceeding their allocation of four penalty-free power units for the season had been abolished. Drivers who now take a fifth and subsequent engines will face no harsher sanction than starting at the back of the grid.
McLaren pair Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso each picked up 25-place grid drops in Austria last month, but with only 20 cars on the grid in 2015 both drivers had to serve additional in-race pit lane penalties to make up the difference.
“The simplification of the power unit penalties, ensuring that the most a driver can be penalised is to be demoted to the rear of the grid – this will eliminate penalties during the race for these infractions,” an FIA statement confirmed.
Meanwhile, the WMSC also gave the green light for any new engine makers entering the sport in forthcoming years to be granted five instead of four penalty-free power units. McLaren’s partner Honda, as a new supplier this year, have been given a fifth unit retrospectively after struggling for reliability since their return.
Both Alonso and Button have already taken penalties for using fifth engine elements, therefore it's likely that the dispensation will be applied when they take sixth units.
The FIA also announced further changes to the criteria for gaining an F1 superlicence with more championships given points-scoring status.
In addition to putting a minimum age (18) and experience level (two years in single-seater racing) on drivers graduating to the top level from 2016, the FIA announced at the end of last year that drivers would have to score 40 points over a three-year period to be granted a superlicence, with different weightings given to the various other motorsport championships.
But following complaints over the new-look system, the WMSC has now agreed to enlarge the list of series included in the points system, adjust the points awarded to some categories to better reflect their status, and widen the period in which a driver will remain eligible.
"Increasing flexibility for drivers having qualified for a Super Licence, but do not have the opportunity to race in Formula 1. These drivers will now keep this possibility for three years (eg. typical F1 test driver situation)," the FIA statement read.
Although the FIA's Formula E series remains outside the points system, the reigning champion of the electric series will nonetheless be awarded a superlicence. Former Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr clinched the inaugural title last month at the season finale in London's Battersea Park.