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Further engine clarifications - Changing the power plant midway through a weekend is now regulated

Published by Christine

This article was originally written for BellaOnline, but is republished here for posterity.

With all the talk of new wings and KERS devices, it's easy to forget that there are other regulations changing as well. Even if you do remember, it's sometimes difficult to get your head around what's going to be different.

The FIA have already had to clarify the engine regulations as they stand once. Charlie Whiting was interviewed to provide a further insight into how and when engines can be used. As we understand it, the teams are allowed eight engines per driver per season. They can be used whenever the team decide, and they can be swapped out just as casually. However, if a driver gets through all eight, and has to move on to his ninth engine, then the penalties start to occur.

Now it seems like the rules will be tweaked slightly, so that a race weekend is slightly more structured. Instead of a driver being able to change his engine at any point on any day, the likelihood is the regulations will be refined so that one Saturday practice is underway, it cannot be swapped for another one.

It had been hinted that changes would only have been allowed after qualifying if there was a serious problem with the original engine, that would prevent the team from competing. Now it looks like that will come into effect for both Saturday and Sunday, once FP3 gets going.

Apparently the teams have asked for this clarification in the rules, as they worried that allowing engine changes before qualifying would require new staff to be brought on board - something that goes directly against the strict cost-cutting regime that is being put in place. Pat Symonds from Renault said a team could cope with changing one engine in an emergency, but to make it a routine to swap both engines out before heading out for flying laps would require more mechanics.

Symonds also went on to say that although suggesting teams should only change if they have a problem was a start, it wouldn't remain that open and honest for too long.

If everything was left completely open, it would soon degenerate. You put in your engine on Saturday. Let's say you spin in qualifying and have to start at the back, you might say I really ought now to use that old dog of an engine, because this isn't a good weekend anyway.

- Pat Symonds

He also brought up the subject of a similar problem when it rains. At least the FIA are happy to regulate according to problems the teams have brought up. It shows good faith on both sides, that they want the racing to be fair and opportunities equal.