Honda gets green-light to develop engine in-season

The FIA has given the green-light for Honda to make changes to its power unit during the 2015 season after the Japanese manufacturer took the issue up with the governing body last week.

A technical directive issued in December stated that Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari could use any unused 'development tokens' during the season, essentially giving them permission to develop their engines in-season.

What are tokens?

The power unit is made up of a total of 66 'tokens'. Certain parts are assigned more tokens because they have a greater influence over performance. Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari are given 32 tokens each, with which they can use to modify their engine.

However newcomer Honda wasn't included in the ruling: "It would seem fair and equitable to ask a new manufacturer to homologate their power unit before February 28," read the directive from the FIA's Charlie Whiting.

Honda believe they were being unfairly treated and asked to meet with the FIA to discuss the matter in detail on Monday. The meeting was reported to have been "constructive" with a compromise likely.

That is exactly what has happened and Honda will now be allowed to develop its engine, like its rivals, during the 2015 season. Development will however be strictly limited by the FIA to ensure it doesn't gain an unfair advantage over its rivals.

Whiting has written to Honda and informed them that they will receive a number of 'development tokens' determined by the average of unused tokens by Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari up to the Australian Grand Prix in March.

Whiting's note states: "As each of the four 2015 manufacturers will have an homologated power unit at the start of the season, we believe it would be fair to ensure that each of them enjoys equal opportunities for upgrades during the season.

"We will therefore allow the new manufacturer to use the same number of tokens that the other three manufacturers have available to them, taken as an average of the three."

For example, if the three manufacturers have eight, seven and six tokens respectively, which they plan to use for development after the Australian GP weekend, then Honda will receive an average - in this case seven - number of development tokens.

It's not known how many tokens each manufacturer plans to leave unused before the season begins, but it's likely to be between four and ten, giving them some development freedom during the season.