FIA seeking to avoid 'huge controversies' with PU changes

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The FIA's director of single seater affairs Nikolas Tombazis says that the governing body wants to avoid any controversies and high profile disagreements over forthcoming changes to Formula 1's power unit regulations.

The new rules will come into effect in 2026 and will shift the championship toward greater use of electrical battery power, without impinging on the remit of the existing Formula E series.

While the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) remains the focus of the package, it won't be as central was it has been in the past.

As well as environmental concerns, the new rules will also seek to ensure that no one manufacturer gets a significant upper hand in terms of race performance.

Currently Alpine are believed to be 20-30bhp behind the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari even before Ford join the grid and Audi complete their takeover of Sauber.

"We don't want to start a season with a huge controversy," he stated. "I think we've got it reasonably right last time - there were some small controversies, but not massive.

"We've learned a bit more and I think we can make sure we avoid that completely next time," he told the media at the end of last year.

"We need to try to be reasonably alert when writing the regulations to make sure they don't open up a wildly different scope for all PU manufacturers," Tombazis explained. "For the first time there will be cost cap for the PU manufacturers.

"If you mess up the season and start in a very bad shape, in the old days if you had the money you would spend the money. But that's something that cannot be done so easily nowadays."

(L to R): Nicholas Tombazis (GRE) FIA Head of Single-Seater Technical Matters with Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal on the grid. 30.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

Tombazis is keenly aware of what happened last time there was a step change in PU regulations. The introduction of the modern hybrid era resulted in eight seasons of dominance for Mercedes over its rivals.

"We believe that the regulations are sufficiently well defined to avoid such a huge step and we believe the gaps won't be that big," he said.

"But we can't guarantee that amongst six PU manufacturers there won't be somebody who gets it wrong and make some fundamental mistakes," he admitted.

"That's always a bit of a risk with new regulations," he said. "There are some provisions in the stability regulations if somebody is way behind to have an opportunity to do more work to catch up.

"We think we've learned a bit in how to put in the right level of definition to avoid completely wild solutions," he added.

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