FIA takes on manufacturers as it launches tender for low-budget V6

An alternative ‘spec’ engine package for F1 looks likely to become a reality as Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt are pushing the concept of low budget engine for 2017 – one that would literally take the power away from the manufacturers.

Both men have become increasingly concerned at the influence wielded by the engine suppliers. Sources suggest that the FIA will could launch a tender process for a 2.2-litre turbo turbo V6, similar to the current Indycar engine, as soon as next week. How an equivalency formula would be worked out remains to be seen.

The news comes after the idea receiving no support at the meeting of the sport’s engine manufacturers in Geneva last week. However the manufacturers also rejected any kind of cost cap on their current engine supply deals, and has prompted prompted the FIA to act. It remains to seen if the concept is ultimately being used as a bargaining chip to bring those costs down.

Ecclestone has long been pushing for a way to find a “Cosworth” who can supply a budget engine to struggling teams, and Todt is also sympathetic to the idea of a low cost package. It could be forced through for 2017 without unanimous support.

In April when I asked Ecclestone about a twin-turbo V6 he told me: “I never wanted to go back to V8s, I wanted to set up a single engine to be in F1, which they could run for let’s say 10% of what these manufacturers spend. It would be a different regulation, which would be cheaper. If the manufacturers then decide this would be a good thing, then that’s OK. Or if they want to supply [current] engines at a realistic price to the teams, then good.”

Asked about how two types of engine could compete in parallel he said: “We used to run turbos with normally aspirated engines before. You can do either.”

A return to V8s or a move to a twin-turbo V6 with a basic KERS package has also been mentioned as a last ditch alternative for Red Bull to use in 2016, although it would require unanimous support for a rule change.

Longer term the turbo idea was always more likely to fly than a return to V8s, as it would represent less of a loss of face for the FIA and those who have been pushing the new technology.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner remains open to the idea of an alternative, and he also favours a turbo route rather than a move to older technology, as he indicated today when asked about the prospect of a return to V8s.

“We might have to because we don’t have an engine!,” he joked. “I think if you look at what the plus points of the V8 were, the sound was the obvious one for the fans. It was quite simple technology compared to what we have now, so the costs were quite significantly lower.

“But the machinery that we have now through the regulations, they’re incredible bits of equipment, and I think what we need to do rather than look backwards look forwards to what should the engine developed be for the future. There’s elements of what we have that are strong at the moment that can be improved, and I would certainly love to see the volume go back up, and certainly the cost of development come down.”

Inevitably these representing manufacturers are happy with the status quo, and don’t want to see any kind of dumbing down of F1 technology.

“Honda joined the sport because of the challenge of the technology,” said Eric Boullier. “And obviously some may regret the engine noise of the V8, some may regret the cost as well, but it’s true that we have to look forward. It’s a piece of technology that’s brilliant, once it works, in our case hopefully soon, it’s a nice challenge to run these engines.”

My April story can be found here: https://adamcooperf1.com/2015/04/23/ecclestone-believes-teams-can-run-cheap-engines-in-2017/

6 Comments

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6 responses to “FIA takes on manufacturers as it launches tender for low-budget V6

  1. Mick

    A two engine spec championship is not good for Formula 1. I hope that this is just a tactic to get the manufacturers to supply teams at a lower cost. Imagine the arguing that will go on about achieving power parity.

    I understand the current engine situation with Renault / Red Bull / Torro Rosso is a mess but a new engine spec isn’t the solution. Change the regulations so that the FiA can instruct the engine manufacturers to supply teams.

  2. AndyB

    If the engine manufacturers demand the hybrids for real world relevance then it is an R&D and marketing cost for their entire organisation, and the F1 teams should not have to subsidise this. Put a cost cap on the supply of customer engines and stipulate that for any 1 engine manufacturer they should be required to supply up to one third of the grid before they can refuse to supply a customer team that requests their engine.

    • DW

      Agree with you completely Andy.

      And in addition … ALL engines are to be supplied to the FIA, who randomly assign engines to the contracted teams … including the works teams. That way the works teams can stop running special engines for themselves while they supply inferior units to customer teams.

  3. Good idea. Car companies should use DTM model/set up their own series & leave the sport NOW. F1 is good fun, it’s about entertaining the hard working crowd, spoilt hoi polloi like meself. Hybrids or German/Japanese cars? Get out! Travel by smartphone is next!!! Gimme cheap tickets & free live streaming (although pirate web TV is working alright).

  4. Equivalency formulas in championships are difficult to police and manage, with all of the engine suppliers being perpetually unhappy.
    I think this is a trojan horse to force the existing manufacturers to agree to lower prices for customer engine supply.
    If this is a real initiative, the rules for supply need to be written to avoid manufacturers doing the same thing to budget engine suppliers that they did in the 2007-2013 timeframe, where they picked off all of the Cosworth customers by offering cheap deals using mature V8 technology. Cosworth was asked to come back to F1 on the basis that they would have at least 3 teams as long term customers, but that did not last and they were forced out of F1 again. If I was Cosworth, I would want some pretty tight conditions to be met before agreeing to enter F1 again.

  5. George Jones

    Red Bull and an equivalency formula? Just something else for them to bleat about how unfair it is they can’t compete when there’s the slightest imbalance. Their treatment of Renault is shameful.

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