Cosworth says “no thanks” to FIA’s 2017 F1 engine plans

Cosworth Engineering co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven says the company has decided not to pursue the FIA’s alternative engine route for 2017 – because the costs involved would not justify a development programme.

The key issue is that Cosworth would have to start from scratch, as it does not have an engine which could be used as a starting point for an F1 V6 project – in contrast to other known bidders Ilmor and AER, who respectively have Indycar and LMP1 engines that could form a base (see earlier story).

We took a look at it and looked at who the potential customers would be,” Kalkhoven told this writer. “And the answer is essentially Red Bull, as they don’t have a long-term engine contract. Then we looked at the economics of developing an engine from scratch, which is what we would have to do.

The economics of it just don’t work out. It would cost roughly £20m to develop from scratch, with everything else that goes with it. You’ve also got to pay for the on-track support, as well.

It’s also too short a time to produce an engine unless you’ve already got a design. We could do it, but the company is extremely busy at the moment, and to take on a speculative investment without the return that our other projects bring is not good business sense. So we have politely declined the opportunity to lose money!”

Meanwhile Kalkhoven acknowledges that it will be hard for the FIA to create parity with the hybrid V6s: “How they would manage to balance the performance of two sets of engines is completely baffling.”

12 Comments

Filed under F1, F1 News, Grand Prix News

12 responses to “Cosworth says “no thanks” to FIA’s 2017 F1 engine plans

  1. “We have politely declined the opportunity to lose money!” I love humour.

  2. George Jones

    what’s the point of going to all the hassle of putting together a tender that is only a political stunt to force the current manufacturers to reduce their prices? Why not just tell the current manufacturers that there will be rule stability for an extra 5 years to allow them to sell for longer at a “reduced” price. If the independent engine idea is forced through then there will no doubt be plenty of arbitration/legalese that will result in either it being abandoned or the current manufacturers leaving. The politics is getting really boring now (almost as boring as the last few races, sad to say). I’ve been watching F1 since 1987, but I doubt I’ll try too hard to find it if the BBC lose the “free to air”. Autosport subscription bit the dust y’day after 20 odd years too. Soapbox now back under the desk.

  3. Lars

    Have to be crazy to spend money on this tender even if you already have a base to work from. Can’t imagine there is any future in two tier engine proposal. No doubt Bernie and FIA are too clever by half in thinking this threat will somehow pressure Mercedes, Ferrari, etc to change their approach.

    • Brian

      First off, one might argue that *any* “independent” business entity would have to be crazy to get involved with the nest of myopic, self-serving vipers that F1 has become.

      That said, when people get all “that’ll never work” about the two-tier system and how “this time is not like the last time” maybe it would be helpful to remember the total evolution of the first time they did the 2-tier bit. At first *everyone* was running 3-liter, normally aspirated motors. But in the rules was the option to use a 1.5 liter turbo motor. Renault decided to give it a go and with *much* hassle and ridicule and many failures (one of them detonated directly in front of me at the end of the straight at Long Beach) they made it work and not too long afterwards turbo motors were the thing as everyone followed Renault’s lead. Just maybe Ilmor and AER are looking a bit farther down the road and can see the day coming (soon, I hope) when the current, ridiculous “power unit” nonsense runs it course, F1 gets back to being what it ought to be and the motors of Ilmor and/or AER will be *the* motors (or at least major players.)

      Just a thought.

      • GeorgeK

        As always your logic is impeccable Brian. The difference between “then” and where this is heading is the billions the mfg have invested into the current engine and PU.

        And how did they get here? The teams wanted this, and the mfg wanted a formula that had relevance in the real world. The FIA signed off, the teams signed off, as did Bernie.

        2 years into this costly (and arguably successful ) iteration Bernie decides we can’t be held hostage to the mfg and they now need an alternative.

        Stability in the engine rules for 4-5 years is what’s required, not knee jerk reactions to the complaints of one owner (albeit a financially significant owner) who has burnt every conceivable business bridge required in obtaining a competitive PU.

        I expect Ferrari will veto the alternative engine, failing that a threatened boycott by all the mfg should be enough to stamp out the proposal.

      • petes

        With you George…..(just not too sure of the impeccable logic bit….)

      • Kevin Robinson

        The other issue is that this is not like “the last time” there were two engine formats to choose from. The manufacturers have no choice but to spend more on the current models while a single new company gets the exclusive rights to develop this newer engine. Granted, that exclusivity is supposed to be for only three years, but it’s still exclusive. If the new engine is a hit and wins everything, the FIA has basically kicked the manufacturers out of the game.

  4. Off Track

    Logical, lucid, straight talk. So different from what we are used to with F1.

    • anon

      The thing is, Cosworth has spent more on engine development in the past – they spent over £20 million on the CA2006 (which would be higher today once you account for inflation), and that was an engine which was only used for a single year.

      To be blunt, Cosworth’s found plenty of other ways to lose money – they’ve been making sizeable losses for the past three years, and I would wager that a company whose turnover has fallen to barely over 60% of what it was less than five years ago probably isn’t busy enough. I don’t think is so much about “declining the opportunity to lose money” – when you dig deeper into their financial situation, I have to wonder if they’re trying to put a positive spin on the fact that Cosworth doesn’t have any money to begin with…

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