The Corona economic downturn has forced Formula 1 teams to cut-down costs. It has already been agreed that the chassis will be frozen for the 2020 and 2021 season, while team managers and F1 bosses continue to discuss new measures to reduce development expenses.
It is reported that the Sporting Working Group is considering to anticipate the 2021 engine restrictions to the current season. The decision entails the reduction of the number of engines from three to two and the introduction of a token-based upgrading system. The solution would contribute to alleviating the financial burden faced by the Formula 1 teams. Moreover, the shorter Formula 1 2020 calendar than originally planned would allow teams to use a lower number of engines.
Nevertheless, there are important criticalities that might undermine the overall outcome of the decision. The lifespan of a Formula 1 engine is seven races, and two engines cannot last until the end of 2020 season, accounting for 18 races. As a result, Formula 1 teams would be required to extend the engine lifespan from seven to eleven races, putting significant efforts that could jeopardize their cost structure.
Besides, tokens would limit manufacturers to undertake car development as they wish. A similar system was already used for power units in the early years of the hybrid era, with each PU component assigned to a certain token value. Producers were initially allocated to 32 tokens per year. The figure was due to drop to 25 in 2017, 20 in 2018, and finally 15 in 2019.
However, the system was removed to allow manufacturers to catch up with Mercedes. A re-introduction of tokens from the 2020 season, would be extremely detrimental for those teams, like Ferrari and Red Bull, who struggle to compete with the dominant Silver Arrows.