Enlarge / Renault, Mercedes, and Ferrari engines power the first three cars off the grid in this year’s Mexican Grand Prix. (credit: Clive Mason | Getty Images)
The 2017 Formula 1 season is rapidly drawing to a close.

There are two races left to run, though with ever-decreasing stakes. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton sealed his fourth championship in Mexico at the end of October after a series of component failures, own goals, and general misfortune at Ferrari put Sebastian Vettel’s chances to the sword.

The really interesting developments in the sport aren’t happening on the track but in conference rooms and press releases.

The reason? The proposed changes for 2021; specifically the cars’ engines and hybrid power units.
Liberty Media (the sport’s new owner) and the FIA (which writes the rules) are trying to respond to disenchanted fans, but it’s a tricky job.

All three engine manufacturers (Mercedes, Renault, and Ferrari) have turned their noses up at the new engine regulations, with Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne even threatening to quit the sport should things not go his team’s way.
None of this is new to F1. Power struggles break out every time new regulations or contracts threaten the teams’ self-interests as they jockey to retain advantages and not lose out, even for the good of the sport.

Bernie Ecclestone showed over several decades that he was more than up to the task, dividing and conquering the paddock in the name of F1.

But this will be the first big test for Liberty.
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