The F1 Commission has agreed for engine development freeze with regards to Red Bull’s push for Honda engine IP, as sprint race idea gets positive reaction.

Red Bull and AlphaTauri are now certain to continue using the Honda power unit from 2022 season onward, after unanimous agreement between the teams, FOM, FIA and manufacturers, during the Thursday’s F1 commission meeting via Zoom call.

With Honda leaving the sport after 2021, Red Bull and AlphaTauri were left with no power unit as a return to Renault was seemingly not the favoured option. The idea put forward was to buy the Honda IP and utilise the Milton Keynes space to house the engines.

It is unclear if Red Bull will have external help or use their own personnel to work on the engine. The one big hurdle was the development costs, which they didn’t wish to spend on, which is why the F1 commission had to vote for an engine development freeze.

The talks stretched on for some time, but it seems settled now with teams/manufacturers agreeing for a freeze albeit the details of which is to be confirmed/revealed at a later stage. The reported ideas had multiple options, but not ‘Balance of Performance’.

It is also to be seen from when it kicks-in and also if the upcoming engine regulations will be preponed from 2026 to 2025. Aside the engine talks, the F1 commission also looked at the proposed sprint race trial at three grand prix during the 2021 season.

The reports stated that F1 will not use the reverse grid format, but stage a separate qualifying on Friday, replacing FP2, to set the grid for the Saturday’s sprint race. The result of that would then set the grid for the Sunday’s main grand prix.

The tracks reported for this trial are Montreal, Monza and Interlagos. During the meeting, the F1 teams showed positive intent, but they want more clarity and details of the proposed idea, so as to give a green signal for the change to happen.

Among other things, the driver salary cap, along with highest-paid officials within F1 teams, was also discussed, with no decision made. They also noted that Portugal is all set to fill the TBC slot of May 2 despite the threats of travel restrictions.

UPDATE: The engine development freeze will kick-in from the start of the 2022 season, but details on how it will be undertaken remains to be seen. The FIA confirmed that the new engine regulations will kick-in from 2025 season onward with five key points.

They are:

  • Environmental Sustainability and social and automotive relevance
  • Fully sustainable fuel
  • Creating a powerful and emotive Power Unit
  • Significant cost reduction
  • Attractiveness to new Power Unit manufacturers

As for the qualifying format, the FIA noted about positive reactions from the F1 teams, as they try to make race weekends more exciting for the fans. They noted that there was ‘broad support from all parties for a new qualifying format at some races’.

Therefore, the FIA has formed a working group to come up with a complete plan and present it before the start of the 2021 season. A working group, meanwhile, has also been formed to ascertain the salary cap step, where drivers will be included as well.

Among other topics, the FIA approved an increase in 18-inch tyre test days from 25 to 30, keeping in mind the COVID-19 restrictions. And finally, the governing body is not in discussions with the promoters of Portuguese GP to fix May 2 for the Portugal race.

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