FEBRUARY 17, 2015
Mercedes to decide token strategy before Melbourne
A big unknown ahead of the 2015 season is how F1's manufacturers will manage the new engine 'unfreeze'.
Earlier, Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and newcomer Honda were bound to freeze their respective 2015 specifications by Melbourne, but now they are freer to deploy performance development 'tokens' throughout the season.
It triggered rumours Mercedes, so dominant in 2014, might start this season with its 'old' turbo V6, giving itself significant freedom to develop in 2015.
"I can assure you that we will go into the season with the 2015 engine," engine boss Andy Cowell insisted to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"We have incorporated many new ideas in combustion, internal friction and energy conversion," he said, "and after the 12 days of testing we will decide what we will bring to Melbourne without risk to reliability."
Reports in recent days, however, have suggested engine suppliers are likely to keep several 'tokens' in the luggage this season, partly with a strategic eye to developing the power unit into the 2016 campaign.
"We will decide based on how reliable our engine evolution is," said Cowell.
"The new rule allowing us to develop to the end of the season with the 32 tokens gives us the ability to take more time for critical developments," he agreed.
The full 32 tokens amounts to 48 per cent of the entire turbo V6 power unit, with Cowell predicting that engine suppliers are therefore able to make "an awful lot" of changes this year.