Masi says engine penalties ‘part’ of F1, ‘same’ for everyone

Date published: October 30 2021 - Michelle Foster

Lewis Hamilton on his way to the grid. Austin October 2021

Although no one wants to see a title fight decided by penalties, Michael Masi says engine penalties are the “same” for all the teams.

It is up to the engine manufacturers to balance performance against reliability.

After seven years of having the most powerful, and most reliable, engine on the grid, Mercedes are struggling with the latter this season.

The Brackley squad’s hybrid system is said to lose performance after only a handful of races, forcing the team into several ICE changes.

Valtteri Bottas is already on his sixth Internal Combustion Engine while Lewis Hamilton is on his fourth, the same as his Honda-powered title rival Max Verstappen.

That recently led Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff to say of F1’s engine penalties: “Obviously we need to look at that, how we do it in the future. But it’s biting us hard this year.”

F1 race director Masi says that’s the way it plays for all the teams.

Asked if he felt fans would be disappointed if the title was decided by penalties, the Australian said as per GPFans: “The part of it is that it is a part of every team racing to the same regulation.

“They all know how many power units, how many gearboxes, how many various elements, exhausts etcetera, they are going to have so everyone is on the same level of understanding of what they need to do.

“Like any team, particularly in the championship fight, you are always going to try and get as much of a competitive advantage you need, be it power unit upgrades, aerodynamic updates, gearbox, whatever it might be.”

Formula 1’s rules mean a fourth ICE is penalised by a 10-place grid drop while number five onwards is only a five-place penalty.

Wolff says that’s a response to the 105-place grid penalty that Honda once earned during their McLaren days.

“I think that’s probably like old Honda where you are in a situation and it’s going terribly wrong and you need to change engine parts or complete power units then you shouldn’t be penalised every single race to go to the back of the grid or lose 10 places,” he said.

“So it’s almost an anti-embarrassment regulation and I think that’s okay.”

Asked about that, Masi replied: “Obviously, I wasn’t around in the role when that was there.

“But I do remember the old power unit penalty system where, if I recall correctly watching on television, it was something like 60-place grid penalties and all of the rest of it. So that was all tidied up accordingly for that basis.

 

“We need to remember the regulations regarding power units have been there for a number of years now, they have been consistent and all of those have been developed with all of the teams, the FIA and F1.

“It is not just this is what it is. It is collectively developed and agreed upon before it is implemented.”