The FIA and Formula 1's engine manufacturers have reached an agreement on allowing in-season development. This is the claim of autosport.com.
The current system regulates development with upgrade tokens as a means to cut costs for the teams: each manufacturer would get a set amount of tokens, 32 each, and they would need to trade these in to introduce various upgrades on their power units. It would however only affect manufacturers present since 2014, and would not allow the recent returnee, Honda, to upgrade their package mid-season. As it became clear that the japanese manufacturer was in desperate need for upgrades, the FIA opened a window for them and future engine suppliers by giving them tokens based on the amount other teams used before the start of the season. They also prolonged the homologation date for new entrants, allowing for more last minute corrections of their units.
The token system has frequently been a subject of controversies, as it limits what manufacturers can do to solve any lack of power or reliability. Furthermore, the amount of tokens that teams could spend would be decreased in 2016 to 25 per team from this year's 32 per team, so manufacturers who have a hard time to catch up with their opposition would have less and less opportunities to do so. This disadvantage was further magnified by the reduced amount of units allowed penalty free, from last year's 5 whole units to this year's 4, meaning that teams with unreliable engines, like McLaren-Honda and Red Bull-Renault, has taken lots of grid-drop penalties, furthering the disadvantage. Thus, Renault and Honda, both significantly behind Mercedes this year in terms of power and reliability, have been opposing the token system, and Renault went so far as to threaten to quit F1 altogether if in-season development was not introduced for 2016.
But now the situation could brighten up a bit for the french and japanese manufacturers, as the FIA lead by Jean Todt and the teams all agreed to change the regulations. The newly agreed upon regulations will retain the token system, and the amount of tokens will not be changed from 32. Certain areas, such as upper and lower crankcases, certain parts of the crankshaft, the air-valve system and ancillaries/valve drives will be left open to upgrade and change freely, and will thus not cost tokens to upgrade. The rule to prohibit manufacturers to supply older versions of engines, like Ferrari supplied Manor with their 2014 specification units this year, will not be introduced. This means that Toro Rosso will still be able to get 2015 spec. Ferrari engines for next year.
Nothing as of present indicates that a new supplier will join the fray next year, and no alternative pre-2014 V8-engine will be available, although autosport.com claim that head of the Formula 1 group, Bernie Ecclestone, still consider such an option.
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing