Force India supports Bernie Ecclestone’s plan to introduce a budget ‘customer’ engine that will run in competition with the current works hybrid V6s.
As outlined here yesterday Ecclestone supports the idea of making available a cheap V8 with KERS (or even a V6 twin-turbo with KERS) that independent teams could use at a much lower cost than current customer engine deals.
“I think the principle of maintaining the V6 hybrid is absolutely correct and proper,” Force India’s Bob Fernley told this writer. “From the manufacturers’ point of view it’s very beneficial both for their marketing and technical programmes. I don’t see any doubt that the hybrid has a long term future in F1.
“What Bernie is looking at is that the independent teams will be offered a ‘parity’ engine, possibly a V8 with KERS, at a half of the price at least of what we are paying today. Of course, as an independent team to be able to cut our costs down by half and have parity with the V6s is attractive. It doesn’t disadvantage us, we’re still putting on a great show.
“If say Cosworth brought in a V8 with a KERS system it would be a very, very good unit. The advantage to that is we’ve got an independent supplier, and there’s nothing wrong with that for the health of F1. I think Cosworth and Renault are the two operations that can do it.
The obvious drawback is that there will be a debate on how the FIA can ensure parity, but Fernley does not see that as a problem.
“At the end of the day the teams cannot survive on the current cost base. So I think Bernie’s initiative has got tremendous merit. Whether it causes a few issues in terms of discomfort in determining where parity is… Well there is already discomfort between where Mercedes are and where Renault are! You’re always going to have that.
“I don’t think it devalues F1. We run with different chassis, so why can’t we run with different engines? We’ve done it in the past, and sometimes it’s been successful and sometimes it hasn’t, but we haven’t got parity today.”
Fernley says there has been no move from the current suppliers to reduce the prices they charge the independent teams for the current engines: “At the moment it’s not on the table and it’s not something that the manufacturers want to consider.
“The only other thing that’s been on the table is to reduce costs, but not have a parity engine. Why would we want that?”