SOCHI, Russia -- The FIA says Formula One has successfully achieved performance convergence between power units as per the formula agreed between engine manufacturers last year.
F1's four manufacturers last year agreed to a performance index to measure the engines of Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda. The agreement stated that, by the third race of 2017, three of the four suppliers would be within 0.3s of each other around one lap of Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.
The intention of the test was to analyse whether F1's tweaked engine rules -- which included the scrapping of the restrictive token development system that ran between 2014 and 2016 -- had been successful in bringing performance levels closer together after three seasons of unmatched Mercedes dominance. At this week's meeting of the Strategy Group, held just after the third grand prix of the season in Bahrain, the FIA revealed to the teams in attendance that the engines of Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault are now within the desired 0.3s of one another.
Speaking in Russia, F1 race director Charlie Whiting explained how the tests were carried out.
"It's far more complicated than [0.3s around Barcelona] because there was a very detailed methodology for simulating this based on all the data that only we have," Whiting said. "So we take all the data that we can from the first three races -- all the power units -- and we've got some simulation engineers in Geneva, who along with Fabrice Lom sat down and analysed all this data and using the method that was agreed by all the power unit manufacturers, to derive from these simulations what it meant in terms of lap time around Barcelona.
"This was done and we announced the results of this to the Strategy Group the other day, and we have convergence. Convergence is defined by the top three being within 0.3s around Barcelona. This only applies to the power unit, of course. So the top three power units are within 0.3s."
When asked if any teams were not happy with the methodology used to agree, Whiting replied: "They all agreed to it. The power unit manufacturers agreed to this methodology, so we can't renegotiate it. It's something that's been in place for a year or so now, a bit more than a year. They've all known exactly how it was going to be done and that's how it's been done, and those are the results."
With Honda languishing far behind its three rivals again this season -- and set to incur the first engine-related grid penalty of the season with Stoffel Vandoorne in Russia -- Whiting pointed out that the test was not about artificially bringing engines closer together but rather measuring how the removal of the token system had freed up engine development.
"It wasn't a matter of helping anybody, it was a matter of establishing whether the measures that have been introduced -- losing the tokens and all of those sorts of things that were to help convergence - whether it had worked. Part of the obligation to supply but it was not totally connected with obligation to supply but it was part of the whole agreement.
"One of the reasons for making all those changes - the main thing being losing the tokens - there were a number of other measures that were put in place to try and assist, and it seems to have worked."
Whiting went on to confirm the FIA will continue to monitor the gap for the rest of 2017, though he is currently unsure whether convergence will be measured again in the same way and at the same time next year.