Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Engine Clarification has an explanation of the 2009 engine rules:

[Ferrari team boss Stefano] Domenicali explained at the launch of the team’s F60 racer that drivers will now be allocated eight engines for the whole season.

Unlike in 2008 and before, therefore, this year engines do not need to be used consecutively, meaning that drivers can avoid the risk of using the same engine at arduous power-circuits such as Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.

Also crucially, penalties for ‘unscheduled engine changes’ will not be allocated until a driver has completely exhausted his season’s supply of eight power plants.

It means that a driver could theoretically use one engine in qualifying and another for the race, without attracting a penalty.

The theoretical use of a different engine in qualifying and in the race will only be possible if the parc-ferme rules are relaxed between qualifying and race start. If this is so, the race mechanics will be back to working many long hours overnight changing engines back and forth as the whims of the drivers and team management change.

I wonder what this will mean for the rent-a-driver market -- could a back-marker (or indeed, any!) team get access to more engines without penalty if they fire the driver who has nearly exhausted his allocation of eight, on the grounds that his replacement hasn't used any? I am sure that if the rules do not already allow for this occurrence, they would be quickly modified if someone tried it.