Gentlemen, Seal Your Engines

Sunday 16th February 2014

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On their own they work fine...

On their own they work fine...

There's only twelve days left till Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault have to homologate their engine specs.

As mentioned elsewhere on PF1 this week, the reason Toto Wolff is sounding quietly confident about the season ahead is the great testing mileage that Mercedes put in in Jerez.

Two days after the second Bahrain test starts, on February 28, each manufacturer must homologate a single-specification of its engine. How that relates to the ancillaries like the ERS-K and the ERS-H - well, we need someone like Gary Anderson to explain, but technically, that's it for the rest of the season. However Appendix 4 of the F1 sporting regulations allows modifications after that date for "reliability, safety or cost-saving reasons".

Which means that it's been in the manufacturers' best interest to make the most expensive 1.6 litre V6 turbo they can up until this point, so that any new feature can be presented as "cost saving" as opposed to that dreadful word "performance".

Given that F1 technicians excel in pushing rules as far as they can go, you can imagine that after February 28th Mercedes, Ferrari and especially Renault will be making a lot of cost savings. And its fairly predictable that engines are going to get safer and safer and safer as the season goes on.

It's a bit like that concept 'the filming day'. Which really should be renamed the 'quiet shakedown day'. Lotus managed to use 100kms of 'filming' in one day to shake down the E22 this week - which is more or less the same amount of running that Red Bull did in Jerez.

Toro Rosso's 'filming' didn't go quite so well in Misano and the Red Bull junior team still have problems to sort out. Renault head of trackside operations Remy Taffin admitted there had been energy store problems and software problems with the management of the new engine and that they were maybe three weeks behind where they would like to be.

Individually, the component parts of the new engine have been working well on dynos etc, it's when they've packaged them all together in a car that the problems have emerged.

"We are not saying we have a major issue on reliability," insisted Taffin. "We have good parts. Each part works fine. We just have to make them work together. We are quite happy with each component in terms of the level of competitiveness but we are struggling when we put everything together in the car and we have to get the most out of it."

Part Two of the race to be ready for Melbourne begins at Bahrain this week, and by the end, it will be clear if someone needs to hit le grand PANIQUE button. These four days ahead are going to shape the first half of the season.

Missing Gary Anderson It will be interesting to see who the BBC recruit to explain the technical side of F1 in 2014 after Gary Anderson's departure. Having fluffed up their 2013 coverage with Suzy Perry, Gary was a useful sea anchor for the gravitas expected of a BBC commentary.

It seems bizarre that the BBC should get rid of an established broadcaster with vast experience of the technical side and great contacts down the pitlane, just at a time when F1 gets more technical. We have ERS-K and ERS-H to explain in 2014, the fuel and engine regs, it's going to need a lucid broadcaster with a degree in engineering or someone who knows their way round an F1 garage. The affable Tom Clarkson (F1 Racing magazine) was sorely under-used last season, don't say he's going to get his hands oily?

How about Mike Gascoyne? The former (it's simpler just to put everyone's) technical director was really good when he stepped in for Eddie Jordan in earlier years. And he's been keeping a low profile of late. Having worked many a year with EJ he could certainly provide the intra-F1 banter that Gary and Eddie enjoyed. Or maybe that was the problem...

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