Formula One is doing away with its ‘token’ system that was used for the engine developments from 2017 season. This ‘token’ system was introduced in Formula One in the 2015 season as a way to keep tab on the developments that the teams do to its power units.
The ‘token’s system introduced was a controversial introduction with the teams unsure of how the system would help them monitor engine developments. Since the 2015 season teams are not allowed to make developments to certain ‘frozen’ parts. To again restrict the unlimited scope of development, teams were allowed to use a maximum of 32 tokens which is approximately equal to 48 percent of the total power unit.
The whole system can be broken into various components comprising of 66 tokens in total, depending on the type, importance and weight of the component. The rule also was made such that the number of ‘frozen’ sections in the power unit would keep increasing each year till 2020, where just five percent of the power unit would be allowed to develop.
Ferrari and Mercedes clearly took a clear lead in the 2014 season and hence took a upper hand over the other manufacturers on the grid. In October last year, all the four engine manufacturers, along with Honda, agreed to allow in season development with no decrease in the number of tokens.
Renault’s managing director however has clearly stated that the token system was being removed from 2017 season. The ‘token’ system is the reason for confusion amongst the fans between the engine development system and the penalty system. He also mentioned that the new engine manufacturers will not have to face this sort of rigid systems that the present manufacturers are facing.
The main aim to do away with this system is to converge the engine performance of all the manufacturers. The reverse could also be true where the top teams with high financial might like Ferrari and Mercedes could develop a huge advantage over others. Till now new manufacturers like Honda had cited the ‘token’ system as the reason for not being able to catch up with the rest of the field, which would not be the case anymore.