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Honda Decries Formula One’s New Three-Engine Limit

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Sad Alonso

Photo: Bertho RF1

Honda’s Formula One project leader, Yusuke Hasegawa, has called the sport’s move to a three-engine limit per season “unreasonable.”

In an effort to cut costs, F1 regulations have increasingly limited the number of engines teams can use throughout the course of a season. In the early 2000s, the richest teams used a different engine at every race, and before then some even used different engines for race and qualifying sessions. But in 2017, teams could only use four engines throughout the year’s 20 Grand Prix.

For the 2018 season, that will be reduced to only three engines. And with one extra race on the calendar, it means teams will need to make each engine last at least seven races on average if they don’t want to incur penalties—it’s a very tough thing to require of engines that are constantly being pushed to the limits of performance and reliability. In fact, none of the engine manufacturers succeeded in evading penalties in 2017 despite “only” needing to make their engines last five races on average.

Mercedes and Ferrari, however, were in favor of the FIA’s decision to move to a three-engine limit, likely because it favors them more than their competitors. On the other hand, Red Bull chief Christian Horner was in agreement with Honda, calling the rule “barking mad.”

Even FIA president Jean Todt said he was unhappy with the extent to which some teams were hit with grid penalties in 2017 but said no change could be made unless all the teams agreed.

“It’s very tough,” said Hasegawa. “It’s not just for us. Renautl had difficulties. I don’t think it’s reasonable. From a technical point of view, it’s difficult. If we save the engine performance, it’s easy to achieve. If we use 2000 RPM lower, of course we can finish, but there’s no point.”

One major criticism of the engine limits is that they have not achieved their purpose of reducing cost. It’s actually gone the other way: with engines becoming more and more complex and needing to be increasingly reliable, manufacturers have invested spectacular amounts of money in their design and construction—and because reliability nonetheless remains an issue, they ultimately must make more than just the number of engine components the rules allow anyway.