CHEAPER, LOUDER, MORE POWER: Despite Honda having revealed its power unit for the 2015 F1 championship it will, along with the other engine-makers, meet to discuss a potential engine formula for 2016. Image: Honda
LONDON, England - As ever in Formula 1, the future is always just around the next bend.
On Tuesday (Jan 6), at Bernie Ecclestone's behest, representatives of the sport's four engine manufacturers - Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari and newcomer Honda - will meet in Geneva, Switzerland.
Ecclestone had briefed manufacturers to consider a new "more powerful, cheaper and louder engine formula" for 2016.
NEW CARS, FORMULA
According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Ecclestone wants more assertive-looking cars that are "more difficult to drive and exciting to watch".
Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda has warned against haste: "Something sensible can really only be done if we give ourselves until 2017. Honda would not have built this new engine for one season only. You need some stability, otherwise everything is insanely expensive."
Meanwhile, Honda is "annoyed" it has been left out of the relaxation of the F1 engine freeze for 2015. After Ferrari and Renault championed a loophole in regulations the governing International Automobile Federation's Charlie Whiting clarified that while existing manufacturers could now modify turbo V6 units during the 2015 season, Honda could not.
Why? Because the rules explicitly mark February 28 as a homologation deadline for new engine-makers. Whiting added: "As the existing manufacturers were obliged to homologate their power units by February 28 2014 it would seem fair and equitable to ask a new manufacturer to homologate its unit before February 28 2015."
McLaren boss Ron Dennis expressed his "concern" that the clarification discriminated against Honda, the British team's new works engine supplier. A senior source at Honda admitted the automaker was "annoyed".
The BBC added that McLaren-Honda had been in contact with the federation about the matter and would meet the governing body later in January 2015.
HONDA TO LAG BEHIND?
So far, news media reaction to the 'unfreeze' situation has been mixed. Reporting for Brazil's Globo, Livio Oricchio said he expected Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button to "probably have to watch their opponents fight for the top places" in 2015.
Oricchio said: "Honda has to fight against competitors who not only have a year of experience with their power units but also now have the possibility to make them even better as the season progresses."
Italy's Autosprint noted: "It is also true that Honda had a year of extra time to design its engine, taking advantage of the experience of what its opponents had to go through in 2014. This will have affected certain technical choices (made by Honda) such as the position of the turbine and the compressor."
Writing in the Spanish daily AS, correspondent Raul Romojaro, said: "It remains to be seen whether McLaren-Honda will lodge some sort of appeal or seek consultation on Whiting's interpretation. In any case, its first objective must be to take advantage of the current absolute freedom of development until March."
MARUSSIA, CATERHAM IN LIMBO
Before 2016 dawns the 2015 championship will be over but to dat it is not even clear how many cars will be on the grid. Marussia and Caterham are under administration, the latter not even committing to the opening test at Jerez, Spain, later in January 2015.
Caterham's joint administrator Henry Shinners told the BBC: "Talks with interested parties continue but if a buyer is not found before the test then we will not put up the money to go."
One person definitely planning for the (northern) winter test period, however, is Williams' Susie Wolff, who is apparently scheduled to run in the 2015 car at Barcelona.
On Monday (Jan 5) she uploaded a video to YouTube depicting her in training and revealed on Twitter: "With six weeks until my first test in the FW37 it's full focus on fitness and preparation."