One of the most gripping conflicts facing the Formula 1 community as of late was the question of what is to be done with engine development regulations. We now have word, via Autosport that, due to a loophole in the rule book, engine development will now be unfrozen for the 2015 season, with teams and manufacturers now free to update and test new designs and improvements throughout the season and homologate them into their respective cars.
The freeze came with the intention of saving costs for teams and manufacturers, eliminating some of the inequality between better funded teams and manufacturers. However, with the dominance of Mercedes during the past season, due in part to the perceived superiority of the Mercedes power unit, which many attribute to its unconventional turbocharger setup, Ferrari, Red Bull, and McLaren began lobbying the FIA to unfreeze development. This would allow the rest of the Formula 1 field to gain ground on the Silver Arrows.
The FIA recently saw fit to comply, owing to a “loophole” in the rule-book; the FIA never “explicitly” stated when the final design homologation must take place, therefore, they cannot implement such a restriction. However, the decision may well cause engine costs to increase significantly for teams.
Of all teams involved, those using Renault and Ferrari power will benefit the most, owing to the fact that it will give their power units room to “catch up” to Mercedes. Honda is the biggest loser here, because, as a “new manufacturer,” development of their power unit will end in February.
While the unfreeze may well prevent another season dominated by Mercedes, it may also impose a heavy financial burden on several teams struggling for existence as is. Only time will tell.