In a move that is set to help Red Bull in taking over the Honda engines next year, an engine freeze will be applicable from the end of this year for the remainder of the current era of regulations. This means that the teams will not be able to develop their engines beyond the end of the 2021 F1 season.
In what was described by F1 as a "significant development for the sport that reflects the unity and collaborative spirit" between them, the FIA, and the teams, the proposal was duly passed after Thursday's meeting of the F1 commission.
No balance of power rule
The "balance of power" rule, which would allow manufacturers with less competitive engines to not be at a disadvantage, was not discussed and is not on the table for now.
There are arguments in favor of how such a system would be beneficial in bringing equity on the engine side, but the parameters on how it would be approached have yet to be discussed.
Engine freeze approval a boost to Red Bull
The engine freeze approval is a huge boost for Red Bull as the team will now be able to take over the reins of the Honda engine program from 2021 as the Japanese manufacturer exits the sport.
Red Bull, given its soured relationship with Renault and direct competition from Ferrari and Mercedes, would have found it tough to get a good engine deal in place. With an engine freeze set to be applied at the end of the 2021 season, Red Bull stands to have a good shot at fighting the top teams without worrying about a potential loss in competitiveness on the engine side.
The engine freeze approval does help in cutting the potential costs that the constructors might have had to incur during the development of these engines. What it also does is shift the focus for the constructors to the next specification of engines to be introduced in 2025.
The last piece of the puzzle in the engine freeze would have to be the "balance of power" rule because no team would want to be disadvantaged by an uncompetitive engine, for multiple seasons. It remains to be seen how F1 tackles that challenge and maintains equity on the engine side in the coming seasons.
The engine freeze approval, however, is a significant step as Red Bull wouldn't have had a clear path forward for the next season if the proposal was not approved. With clarity on the engine front, the team can plan their next course of action.
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