Bosses at the various manufacturers insist that engine convergence is possible, with Ferrari suggesting that there will be a freeze on future development after 2021.
While the sport is due to undergo a massive overhaul in 2021, this applies to the cars, budgets and prize money. As for the engines, no change is planned any time soon.
For some time the sport has argued that convergence between the four different power units available will happen, and while the stats – Mercedes having won 73.6% of the races held in the hybrid era, Ferrari 14%, Renault 9.9% and Honda 2.5% suggest otherwise – bosses at the various manufacturers insist that it is still possible, with Ferrari suggesting that there will be a freeze on future development after 2021.
“I think you will see, over the long-term, the trend on engine performance is that it will stabilise,” says Toto Wolff. “I think we have seen outliers in engine performance, we have seen very good races with Ferrari, we have seen Renault doing a step up and then the same way that has stretched us.
“So I think, looking over many years’ cycle, these gains will get smaller, like in any mature industry, the marginal gains tend to decrease and I have no doubt that this will happen.”
“I think that the stability of regulations is showing that actual performance is converging which is good for the sport,” adds Cyril Abiteboul. “I continue to believe that there are some breakthroughs to come that will come with new processes, with new materials, so that’s interesting, so you should watch this space and see what it still has to offer.
“There is an awful lot of innovation that I wouldn’t… it’s a bit unfortunate that we can’t really talk about because of all the secrets,” he continues, “of all the IP that’s involved and all the investments that are associated.
“Our engineers keep on having lots of ideas and that’s great to see. We’ve recruited a lot of young guys, coming from university. They are not necessarily passionate about Formula 1 but I can tell you that they are passionate about doing what they are doing in the field of the internal combustion engine and power in general and that’s good and extremely refreshing. So I think it’s good that Formula 1 keeps on having this field of innovation for engines in general.”
“Will convergence happen? I think we are all convinced on that,” said Mattia Binotto. “The reason that we are all convinced is that the rules that we have all accepted are defined.
“There will be lines of restriction and therefore we believe that there will no longer be the necessity to develop as we are developing today and there will even be some freezing opportunities, also the power unit and the fact that we are starting freezing some of the components is that believe that there is only a very marginal benefit at some stage in developing and it’s good for the sustainability to start freezing and reducing the dyno activity.
“So yes, we are all convinced that it will come to a convergence. I think we are already converging and in the next period that will happen, certainly.”
Meanwhile, at Honda, which has only extended its contract with Red Bull and Toro Rosso by one year, technical director, Toyoharu Tanabe told Motorsport.com, when asked about freezing all development: “We would like to do that.
“But where we have started a little bit later than them, maybe their improvement curve is straighter, that’s why Mattia can say something like that, but we are still learning and improving.
“Also, we need cost reduction,” he added, the Japanese manufacturer having made no secret of this being one of the most important factors in considering its future in the sport. “Honda is spending a lot of money and all the manufacturers, but we try to make it cheaper for the engine.
“Some areas of course we can stay the same as it is currently, so designing everything.”