Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says it would be “horrible” to see the 2018 Formula One world championship decided on engine penalties, following the sport’s move to three engines for the entire campaign.

Drivers were permitted an allocation of four power units during 2017, but that number will be reduced to three this season in a bid to lower costs. Certain components of the engine will be cut to just two units for the whole of 2018, despite an additional race and concerns over the three-engine target following a plethora of reliability issues that notably curtailed Honda and Renault on a spate of occasions last year.

McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne amassed a total of nearly 400 grid penalties alone in 2017, prompting a barrage of criticism from fans and teams alike, who slammed the increasing number of engine-related penalties for ruining the spectacle and affecting race outcomes.

“There will be plenty of grid penalties in 2018,” Horner said when asked about the subject. “What you’d hate to see is a championship decided on grid penalties. Getting to the point with three engines in 21 races, it is nuts really.

“Contrary to whatever Toto [Wolff] says, his non-executive chairman [Niki Lauda] was arguing for four engines earlier in the year because it is a false economy. Those engines go on a world tour, they are here anyway, and for more races, less engines, it as I say a false economy, and it would be horrible to see a championship decided on engine penalties.”

The strain of having to contend with a four-engine limit during 2017 was reflected in Brazil, where Red Bull was forced to sacrifice performance in order to ensure its engines ran reliably. Horner believes five engines would be a more realistic figure for 2018, given that was the allocation when F1 last had a 21-race calendar in 2016.

“You’re still burning these engines up on the dyno, but the reality is it doesn’t save any money,” Horner told Channel 4. “These grid penalties, I don’t think anybody particularly likes seeing them to the extent that they’re happening at the moment.

“We want to see the guys out on the track. Obviously don’t throw caution to the wind with costs, but for me five engines for a 21-race championship would be a more sensible and logical number.”

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