Somehow in this year of oppressive engine penalties over in Formula One, NASCAR wants to institute annoying engine penalties of their own in 2018, reports ESPN. Granted, they’re less complex than F1’s, but if your favorite driver has to change an engine over a weekend next year, oof. I’m sorry.
NASCAR announced that it’s going to a single-engine rule for all Cup Series events, meaning that no engine swaps are allowed between qualifying and the race itself. This includes the Daytona 500, where no engine swaps will be allowed between its qualifying race and the main event.
If a backup engine has to be used in either a primary or a backup car during an event, that car will be moved to the back of the grid for the race start. Likewise, if a team needs to use a backup vehicle over the course of the weekend, that car will be forced to start from the rear.
On top of this, NASCAR is mandating that full-time teams use 13 of their engines for the series for two full race weekends, explains Frontstretch. That engine will be sealed so that no one can update or refurbish anything on it in the meantime. It goes into the next weekend exactly like it came out of the first.
While this is one way to get costs under control, it will make it slightly more difficult for teams to avoid engine penalties due to the additional wear and tear on each engine.
Non-full-time Cup teams will also have to reuse an engine at some point as well, notes ESPN. They will not be able to participate in more than two consecutive race weekends without reusing a sealed short block engine from a previous event.
All of these engine and mechanical penalties tweak the qualifying result, which is exactly what’s been so frustrating for F1 fans. You see your favorite driver qualify well and then all of a sudden they’re starting from the back for the race due to changes you all too often didn’t even see. It’s garbage, and makes the sport harder to follow for fans.
It’s gotten so bad in F1 that the series leadership is trying to come up with alternatives to their grid penalties, like docking teams’ championship points or preventing them from making certain changes to their cars if they’ve swapped out too many engines.
NASCAR themselves has said time and time again that changing race results is their last-resort measure for the same reason: it’s a lousy fan experience. They’re even opted for “encumbered” wins (where a driver gets to keep his win but lose all the benefits) for their biggest penalties as a result. Why wouldn’t the same attitude get applied to stupid qualifying penalties?