Bernie claims engine-related rules could be 'torn up'

SOCHI • Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has warned that the new regulations set to be implemented next year, with the engine-related rules just ratified, may be "torn up" should they not work as hoped in producing better racing.

The FIA (International Automobile Federation) announced on Friday that the new rules had been ratified by the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) and would cover the 2017-2020 period.

"The global agreement on power units covers four key areas relating to the cost and supply price, obligation to supply, performance convergence and the sound of the power units," the statement read.

The implementation of the new regulations has been a long and tortuous process, with the aero rules agreed earlier in the year still provoking controversy.

The rules, looking to make cars faster and more aggressive-looking, have been criticised by drivers and teams for their potential to inhibit overtaking. Yet Ecclestone, speaking in the Russian Grand Prix paddock yesterday, has suggested that they may yet be changed again.

F1's commercial supremo stressed the key part of the new rules was ensuring a convergence in engine power and that the customer engines matched those of the manufacturers.

Should that not be the case, he warned: "That will all be torn up and we will start again with a new set of regulations, where the engines might be easier.

"The normally aspirated engines that we had were more or less equal, there were little differences, they had reached the maximum. It is just a case of bolting the hybrid stuff on and that's where the problems would start."

Ecclestone, in fact, has no power to independently rewrite the regulations. Any changes need to be agreed by the FIA, Formula One Management, the F1 strategy group, the F1 commission and the WMSC.

Meanwhile, F1's race director Charlie Whiting has confirmed that the use of a cockpit protection device in the sport is still set to go ahead for next season, despite objections from some drivers over the weekend in Russia. But Ecclestone stated yesterday that he was not in favour of employing the cockpit safety system.

"I don't like it," he said and added that he did not believe it would necessarily achieve its goal, before questioning the testing methods the devices had undergone.

He asked why the sport should "try to simulate something where you have a stationary object and fire a tyre at it, when in the race when the wheel has come off normally both cars will be moving?"

Whiting also confirmed that there is a timetable in place for a decision to be made between the two systems being tested, the halo device and Red Bull's aeroscreen, which made its first appearance in Sochi on Friday in practice.

The deadline for confirming which device will be instituted is July 1, Whiting said, to allow teams time to incorporate it into their designs for next year's cars, which will also be subject to the new aero and engine regulations that were confirmed this week.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2016, with the headline 'Bernie claims engine-related rules could be 'torn up''. Print Edition | Subscribe