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Independent engine plan would be good for F1

The current engine crisis within Formula One could destroy the sport, that's the belief of many within the media and within the sport.

From the very top with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt, to the sports biggest team Red Bull Racing and their team principal Christian Horner.

Formula One wouldn't be Formula One without the off the track politics that surrounds the sport.

For the last couple of years this has mainly been about engines.

In a sport where the competitors have a say on the rules and regulations, unsurprisingly they always take the short term view which best benefits themselves and not the sport.

This has always been how Formula One has operated and obviously, if you let the inmates run the asylum the situation is going to progressively get worse over time.

The new engine regulations were agreed by committee, in principle the move from V8 aspirated engines to V6 Turbo-Hybrid engines was the right one.

Formula One represents the pinnacle of motor racing, both with its drivers and its technology and the switch was exactly what inspired Honda to return to the sport and to keep Renault from leaving it.

But the rules and regulations that were agreed were far too complicated and has seen costs spiral out of control, which has thus seen a cap on testing to keep costs down. It's worked for the accountants, but not for the sport as it means the teams have one hand tied behind their back in terms of development.

For a sport to be competitive its competitors need to be on a level playing field, but with testing prevented, the new regulations handed an advantage to Mercedes as they were the manufacturer who developed the quickest car by the point of that deadline.

It has taken two years for Ferrari to catch up to Mercedes, whilst Renault have drifted further and further behind.

If teams cannot compete due to their power-units then why should they spend millions of pounds to struggle and look bad?

That's the crossroads that Renault found themselves at.

Renault had contemplated leaving the sport due to looking uncompetitive and getting all the blame for the unsuccessful seasons with Red Bull despite limited acknowledgement for when they were winning.

Renault have opted to remain in Formula One by becoming a fully fledged manufacturer by buying the Lotus team.

But they could have just as easily walked away from the sport, leaving F1 with just three engine suppliers.

So what's next for Formula One as the engine situation is risking losing teams from the sport, either on a competitive level or a cost level?

Motorsports governing body the FIA and Formula One Management [FOM] have muted plans to set maximum price for customer power units and gearbox suppliers.

The idea was was passed by a majority vote when discussed by F1's Strategy Group.

However Ferrari blocked the move using 'the right of veto'.

The FIA decided against any form of legal challenge and have now moved to the idea of a tendering process for a customer engine supplier.

The plan is currently on the back burner as the current engine manufacturers try to come up with an alternative proposal, but this idea does appear to have legs.

The proposal would see an engine developed at a much lower cost than the current power units supplied by Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda, providing a much cheaper means to go racing for the majority of the grid.

It could also mean a much more competitive field with more cars equally matched, something that ticks many boxes for the watching audience according to Bernie Ecclestone.

'With the engine of an alternative supplier we want to boost the competition and we want to make F1 more competitive throughout the field.” Ecclestone told German newspaper Welt Am Sonntag.

“If we don’t reach an agreement between teams, the manufacturers and us, the FIA can install a new engine format.

“We must not allow F1 to be destroyed. But if we continue as we do at the moment we’re right on course to destroy it. I won’t let that happen.


Horner appears to agreement with large parts of Ecclestone's plan, having seen his team get caught between the power struggle between Formula One's engine manufacturers.

Red Bull wanted to end their relationship with Renault once they began to struggle, but both Ferrari and Mercedes refused to supply them with engines through fear of competition, whilst Honda's attempts were vetoed by McLaren who also wanted to keep their exclusivity ahead of any potential future successes.

“You need a competitive independent engine, That is what will bring balance back in to the whole system.

“...the engine is a very powerful tool for who has control of F1.

“Is it the promoter and the FIA? Or is it the manufacturers? We find ourselves unfortunately caught in the middle of that power play.
Horner told motorsport.com.

“That is why the engines need to be simplified, and there needs to be a much reduced gap between the best and the worst engine.”

“The manufacturers are now under pressure to come back by January 15 with an affordable and available engine that addresses all the current issues, If that doesn't happen, then I believe the independent engine will be brought into play. So we wait with interest to see what comes back on January 15.”








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The Journalist

Writer: Red5 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday December 31 2015

Time: 10:00AM

 

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