Formula 1's engine manufacturers have agreed to the idea of limiting drivers to three engines per year from 2018 as part of their push to deliver reduced costs.
Ahead of talks between teams later this month to discuss changes to F1's power unit regulations, the manufacturers think the best way to reduce costs and help performance converge is to cut back on the number of engines allowed per season.
Sources suggest that early calculations indicate cutting back from the current four-engine limit (five engines when there are more than 21 races) should ensure customer teams can be supplied with power units for 12 million Euros per season – a target figure originally laid down by the FIA
Strategy Group talks
The move has won preliminary support from engine makers but a crunch meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and F1 Commission later this month will see whether this plan is accepted and put in to force.
That is because there had been some hope originally that dramatic cost reduction could come into play for 2017 – or else an independent engine would be pursued.
Speaking about the situation, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said: “There are two weeks to go until we have our final commission and Strategy Group meeting in order to come up with the regulations.
“On the engine front we are pretty much there. We have an agreement which needs to be ratified by the stakeholders, but there are lots of benefits for most of the teams in that agreement. So I am hopeful that they will be done.”
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said that development costs of the current power units had now stabilised, and that delivering rules that meant the current units could remain would help bring down expenditure.
"Let's say that at the moment we have stabilized,” he said. “Now the next step will be to begin to reduce costs. If we cannot reinvent a new engine every season, we will be able to lower their budget. "
Red Bull against
Although the manufacturers believe the idea is a good one, not everyone is convinced about it.
Red Bull, which has been in favour of the independent engine, says he has seen no evidence of rule changes delivering on the criteria originally laid down by the FIA.
“I think for me, Jean Todt set a criteria of four deliverables that Toto Wolff representing the engine manufacturers was charged to achieve,” Christian Horner said.
“The four things were a reduction in price to 12 million Euro for next year, availability of those engines of supply, power convergence to within plus or minus two percent and to address the noise. And all four to date haven't been met.
“So I think it is going to be an interesting discussion at the next F1 Strategy Group and F1 Commission meetings as to what the next steps of FIA and promoters will be to that.
“I think they need to decide what they want. They made it quite clearly previously that the independent engine was tabled, it was removed from the table on the basis of these things being offered.
“If they are now not available, prices are not going to come down, convergence is not going to happen, and supply isn't going to be restricted, then the criteria hasn't been fulfilled.”
When asked if he believed that meant the independent engine being back on the table, he said: “Yes. Because how else are you going to deal with price, affordability, availability and convergence?
“There is still a major, major issue. The racing is good at the minute but we still have this underlying issue that needs to be addressed. It is interesting and not something that is going to be fixed in a week.”