McLaren and Renault wants the FIA to re-visit on the free upgrade token rule for 2021 F1 season where some teams are in an advantageous position.
At the time of discussion back in April, all F1 teams came on board to have two tokens for them to upgrade any part for 2021 from 2020 as the chassis is to remain the same. It was an opportunity given to aide the teams to better the parts which isn’t working.
But having gone through the rules, it emerged that F1 teams like Racing Point and AlphaTauri would end up benefiting from the rule as they are using 2019 parts from Mercedes and Red Bull Racing respectively in 2020, and thereby get a free upgrade.
At the same time, Ferrari customer Haas, wouldn’t have the same benefit as they are already using parts of the 2020 F1 car, which means, for 2021, they will have to use the token to avail the upgrade. For McLaren, the situation is different with an engine change.
Since they are switching to Mercedes from Renault, the Woking-based F1 team will lose their tokens in the switch itself. Both McLaren and Renault still wishes that the FIA re-visit the Article 22.8.5b of the 2021 Technical Regulations, but it seems unlikely.
“Anything is possible until the 2021 season starts,” said Zak Brown. “I think sometimes with these regulations there is unintended consequences. It seems to be a bit out of balance that we have to use our tokens for our power unit change and other teams don’t necessarily have to spend tokens and yet are going to get a free upgrade.
“So, I think it is something that needs to be revisited and see if there can be a fairer conclusion brought to this unique token situation this year.” At the same time, Cyril Abiteboul added: “Just to be clear, the token principle is right but that exception described indeed is wrong. We’ve said it since Day 1. We said it in April, and then again in May.
“We vote for the package of measures as it was presented in Strategy Group and thereafter into the World Motor Sport Council with the explicit mention that we were not supportive of that element of the regulation – but it was a package and that would be agreed as such. I think since then that more teams have realised the unintended consequences – or maybe they were intended consequences – of that clause and we standby what we said back in May.
“I think since then there are more teams that realise and therefore more teams have expressed concerns. So, yeah, I think it will be up to the FIA to define if that is something that they want to revisit. But if you were to go with the majority of teams, that’s something that today would clearly be revisited.”
While McLaren and Renault have persisted in their stance, other F1 teams like Ferrari and Haas are in similar limbo. From Racing Point side – who are already engraved in a controversy – they feel that this was agreed in April/May and that they have already acted upon it, so any change now will make it a mess.
“This was discussed, I think, starting in April and May of this year and it is a unique year, due to the pandemic that we’re facing, and the uniqueness of this year is freezing components that we usually wouldn’t freeze from year-to-year in order to save money,” said Otmar Szafnauer. “And this is how we got here.
“We all agreed, back in May, the token system that’s in place now. And for us, for example, it’s way too late to go back on that. We’ve stopped developing this year’s car a while ago and we’re in full development of next year. And because we buy our components – the gearbox we buy from Mercedes – it’s not really up to us to be able to control what we buy. We can only buy what they sell us.”
Here’s what the F1 teams said regarding the token system
Here’s engine mode change deferral to Monza
Here’s news on F1 teams signing Concorde Agreement