SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - Struggling McLaren will be allowed an extra engine for each of their drivers as Formula One announced a package of measures on Thursday that included an overhaul of its controversial power unit penalty system.
The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement that a meeting of the sport’s Strategy Group had agreed a number of steps, some of which would be put to a vote next week.
“It was agreed to allow an extra power unit per driver in the first year to any new manufacturer entering the championship and, for the sake of fairness, the measure will apply retroactively to Honda for the 2015 season,” it said.
Former champions McLaren are in the first year of a new partnership with Honda and are struggling to get performance and reliability out of the new V6 turbo hybrid power unit in their worst ever start to a season.
Drivers were allowed five power units last year, the debut season for the V6, but that was cut to four for 2015.
Spaniard Fernando Alonso has suffered four successive retirements for the first time in his career while Britain’s Jenson Button has scored McLaren’s meager total of four points in eight races.
In Austria last month, double world champion Alonso and Button were both handed 25 place penalties — despite there being only 20 cars on the grid — for exceeding their season’s engine allocation.
The FIA said an overhaul of power unit penalties had been unanimously agreed and would be submitted to an express vote by its World Motorsport Council in Mexico City next week.
Changes to exhaust systems to improve engine noise in 2016 would also be voted on.
Increased restrictions on driver aids and coaching, through radio messages, would be implemented from next month’s Belgian Grand Prix onwards with an emphasis on race starts.
“These measures will bring back the driver in full control of the car, enhancing race excitement and unpredictability,” the FIA said.
The FIA and commercial rights holders were given a mandate to propose a “comprehensive set of measures for power unit development and cost of supply.”
The FIA said a new set of regulations to achieve faster and more aggressive looking cars for 2017, with wider bodies and wheels and more downforce, was being assessed by teams.
“Exciting and innovative changes” to qualifying and the race weekend format were also being evaluated for 2016.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Lovell