The FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) has signed off on immediate changes to the rules governing engine allocations and engine change penalties, which will come into immediate effect for the remainder of the 2015 Formula 1 season.
The Strategy Group – a controversial group consisting of only the top-six finishing teams and a number of other stakeholders – proposed an overhaul of the current power unit rules in response to serious criticism over repeated grid and in-race penalties being awarded for unscheduled power unit element changes.
The recent Austrian Grand Prix saw McLaren duo Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button cop grid penalties amounting to 45 grid slots between them after both drivers were forced to change a number of elements in their troublesome Honda power units.
As neither was able to take their full grid penalties, both were set to serve pit lane penalties in the race as further punishment. Ironically, both drivers retired from the race before having the opportunity to serve their respective pit lane penalties.
The F1 Strategy Group proposed that new power unit manufacturer would be given an extra power unit allocation in their first season of competition, bringing the tally of available power units to five per driver. This change would apply retrospectively to Honda, which is making its return as an engine supplier following a five-year absence.
The second proposal from the Strategy Commission was that the power unit grid penalties be simplified, whereby the greatest penalty a driver could serve would be a demotion to the back of the grid. This rule change could be open to abuse, however, with poorly-qualifying teams perhaps being tempted to perform an engine change ahead of the race (although that itself would necessitate a pit lane start).
The engine proposals were submitted to the F1 Commission – which only has the power to approve or reject, but not amend, a proposal – and then forwarded to the WMSC for final sign-off.
Image via McLaren