Formula 1

Honda given limited in-season engine development after FIA U-turn

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Honda will be allowed limited in-season development of their new V6 turbo hybrid as part of a U-turn by the FIA.

Earlier this month the Japanese carmaker, re-entering F1 for the first time since 2008 as engine supplier to McLaren, had been excluded from a ruling by the governing body as it admitted a loophole in the regulations permitting the three other suppliers, Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, to use up their allocation of tokens, given over the winter to make upgrades to their power units, during the course of the season.

This is because Honda was expected to meet the same homologation deadline, February 28, the other suppliers had had to submit their engine specifications by last year.

Honda at an advantage?

The 2014 suppliers have already admitted Honda could be at an advantage with its new power unit having had an additional year of development and seen the issues each of their competition had to overcome when getting to grips with the new engine formula last year.

But given the rapid pace of development in modern F1, the ruling was seen by many as putting McLaren and Honda at a great disadvantage as they would have been bound to much tighter restrictions of development than their rivals.

Indeed Honda themselves had complained about the fairness of the ruling to the FIA and now the governing body has reached a compromise to ensure a more level playing field.

FIA compromise

In a letter sent by Race Director Charlie Whiting, the governing body revealed Honda would be given a number of tokens to use during the season based on the average of the number of tokens the other three suppliers have prior to the opening race in Australia.

"If the three 2014 manufacturers have eight, seven and five unused tokens respectively at the start of the season, then the new manufacturer will be allowed to use six during the season (the average rounded down to the nearest whole number),” the letter seen by the BBC read.

Of course it is likely that Mercedes could have a higher number of tokens available to use compared to Ferrari and Renault who are looking to close what was a large performance gap in 2014.

Testing will be key

If that is the case it could lead to an interesting scenario for Honda and potentially one that could lead to greater competitiveness, however, the new partnership will be hoping for more success than in their first official test reunited in Abu Dhabi last November which saw the power unit hit by multiple issues.

The new McLaren MP4-30 will be launched on January 29 just two days before the opening pre-season test in Jerez begins on February 1.

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