Blog: Why should FIA and WRC have postponed hybrid cars in 2022?

WRC entered to a new era this year as the current cars are using hybrid power in the stages, but is this decision right for the sport, the teams and the drivers? Might the switch from WRC cars to Rally1 cars have been too early to happen and was needed more time for a proper preparation?

To begin with, there were hybrid problems even before the start of 2022. More specifically, the supplier company, Compact Dynamics, delayed to delivery the hybrid kits to the WRC teams due to the coronavirus situation and this delay had an impact to the test program with these new cars. On 17 October 2020, FIA announced that the WRC teams would not be able to start testing its new cars from January 2021 as it was expected, but they were permitted to test them from February 2021. Even though the teams received the hybrid units from Compact Dynamics on the ninth week of 2021 instead of the fifth week of that year, each WRC team received only one hybrid kit for creating their new Rally1 cars. But the problems did not stop there as one of the three WRC teams detected a problem with the hybrid kit, therefore Compact Dynamics decided to take back the hybrid kits from the teams for further investigation with the intention of solving the problem that arose. This led FIA to postpone once again the test program. It must be mentioned that this incident happened on April 2021. The tests with the new Rally1 cars started on June 2021 when M-Sport Ford started its development program with the Puma. Considering all these factors, WRC teams had less than ten months to prepare for the new era of WRC and their cars meaning that they did not have enough time and did not get enough feedback to get their cars ready for 2022 and we do not have to forget that all the teams should have been consistent for the 2021 Championship.

Last but not least, many drivers including Ott Tanak believe that FIA must update the sporting regulations which are related with the hybrid retirements and the restarting under the regulations of Rally2. So far, fourteen times are where WRC drivers have been hit by hybrid issues including drivers who are fighting for this year’s title. From what we saw in Sweden, it looks like that the hybrid regulations related with the retirements due to hybrid issues are unfair for some drivers. For instance, Ott Tanak was forced to retire from the rest of Friday afternoon loop in Sweden due to the fact that an issue with the hybrid unit of his i20N triggered a red light and he received time penalties for restarting on Saturday under the Rally2 regulations. In contrast to Tanak’s retirement, Kalle Rovanpera faced a hybrid problem with his Yaris on Sunday, but he continued his race and got to the finish line of Rally Sweden achieving his third WRC win there. It is noticeable that when the hybrid unit issues appear, some WRC drivers can continue their race whereas others are forced to stop and probably taking time penalties for restarting under the regulations of Rally2 the next day after their retirement meaning that they are losing many positions on the overall classification and many points for the driver’s and the manufacturer’s championship. Before we close our thinking, it must be mentioned that the cars are equipped with lights. When the green light is on, this means that everything is working fine with the hybrid unit and the drivers are safe to drive into the stages whereas when the light is red, the drivers must stop immediately and retire due to safety precautions. 

Considering the early problems that the WRC teams faced with the deliveries of their hybrid kits and the unclear FIA sporting regulations, it is noticeable that FIA and WRC should have postponed the hybrid involvement in World Rally Championship for at least one year.

Photo Credits: M-Sport

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