body had forgotten to actually specify
Feb. 28, 2015 as the homologation date
for this year’s upgrades. It thus agreed that
any of the 32 tokens not spent before that
date could be used up later in the year.
So, post-Feb. 28, Renault was left with 12
of the 32 tokens to spend during the season,
Ferrari 10, and Mercedes just seven.
Newcomer Honda got the average of the
remaining tokens, meaning it has nine to
spend in its so-far fraught debut season.
It may seem odd that the marque with
the strongest power unit used the most
tokens in the off-season, but that’s because
it doesn’t have many significant long-lead
items in the wings, unlike Renault and
Ferrari. Instead, Mercedes’ tokens were
mostly used in fine-tuning a concept it
knows works extremely well, with the focus
on optimizing reliabilty as the number of
power units allowed per car drops from
five to just four for the 2015 season.
“Our development approach and focus
was on getting to Melbourne with the
best performing hardware that we believe
will survive five Grands Prix distances,”
says the company’s F1 engine wizard,
boss Andy Cowell. “And then we’ll reflect.
“What we didn’t want to do was to think,
‘Maybe there’s an opportunity to delay
some of the performance upgrades?’ When
the timing window moves backward, there’s
One of the challenges is that, with only
four power units allowed, any in-season
updates have to be introduced within that
schedule, i.e., after teams have put the
maximum possible mileage on the old spec
bits, which can then be “retired” rather
than cycled back and used later in the
year. This will also mean that there will be
weekends where Driver A has a newer
engine spec than Driver B. If those drivers
happen to be Lewis Hamilton and Nico
Rosberg, we are likely to hear all about it...
From the outside there’s a widespread
perception that the updates might not
make much of a difference to the status
Despite enjoying a
advantage in 2014,
Mercedes’ F1 engine
boss says its spate
of winter tweaks
was to not lose any
momentum in ’ 15.
Red Bull’s “B team,” Toro Rosso, had its share of power
unit-related problems during winter testing (BELOW), but
seemed to avoid the issues experienced by Red Bull Racing’s
RB11 in Australia. Not so, says RBR team boss Christian
Horner... “They are struggling the same amount. It’s just
having a more dramatic effect on our car,” he opined.
quo, but that’s not something Cowell
necessarily agrees with, especially when the
value of certain parts is taken into account.
“If you look at the table, combustion is
down as just three tokens, for example,”
he says. “For combustion you can change
cylinder head, pistons, valves, fuel
injectors. And then all the associated
parts can still fit inside the three tokens.”
So, spent wisely, could those 12 tokens
Elements in the power unit are each assigned a number of
tokens. Manufacturers can choose to spend their allotted
annual amount on whichever combination they choose.
For 2015, each had 32
tokens to play with.
THE ENgINE mENu
24 MAy 2015
FORMULA 1 ENGINES