TOTUCH CALL FOR HONDA: Formula 1's engine suppliers have found a loophole in the rules that allows them to develop their engines throughout the season. Except for newcomer Honda. Image: AP / Felipe Dana
LONDON, England - Formula 1 newcomer Honda has been left out as rival engine suppliers prepare to develop their turbo V6 'power units' through the 2015 season.
It has emerged in recent days that, because the wording of the regulations is unclear, the sport's 2014 suppliers Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari would not have to present an engine to be 'frozen' in Melbourne for the 2015 entire F1 season.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport: "Everything depends on the interpretation of the rules."
It is believed the loophole was discovered by Ferrari, and then backed in subsequent meetings by fellow engine straggler Renault.
Wolff added: "The International Automobile Federation offered its version (of the rules interpretation), and I do not see any problems. Certainly the freezing of engines in February (2015) is best for those who are at the front but we are able to develop too."
Crucially, however, F1's engine newcomer Honda would not be able to develop throughout 2015 because the rules make it clear that, for new engine suppliers under the turbo V6 rules that were implemented in 2014, a clear start-of-season homologation date is set: February 28.
No such homologation date exists, however, for engine suppliers in their second year under the new rules it means Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault could deploy their 32-performance development 'tokens' throughout the entire 2015 season.
Writing in Germany's authoritative Auto Motor and Sport, correspondent Michael Schmidt said: "Newcomers (such as Honda) have no tokens in the first year. Until their engine is homologated at the end of February, it is completely free to develop but after that may only upgrade on grounds of reliability, cost or safety."
Schmidt continued: "McLaren boss Ron Dennis already expressed his concern at the recent Strategy Group meeting that the rules discriminate against his new engine partner."