Ec­cle­stone could still re­verse en­gine de­ci­sion

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

If there are fewer than 19 races in 2017, the F1 boss could in­voke a spe­cial clause to undo his agree­ment with man­u­fac­tur­ers

Bernie Ec­cle­stone could yet mount another as­sault on For­mula 1’s turbo hy­brid en­gines, de­spite the con­clu­sion of a deal that was aimed at ad­dress­ing his con­cerns.

F1 Rac­ing has learned that the en­gine deal thrashed out over the spring be­tween Ec­cle­stone, the man­u­fac­tur­ers and the FIA in­cludes a force ma­jeure clause that en­ables the agree­ment to be re­vis­ited if the cal­en­dar drops be­low 19 races.

Ec­cle­stone has re­cently re­marked that F1 could lose as many as three races next sea­son. The Ger­man Grand Prix does not have a con­tract for 2017, as Hock­en­heim has a deal only for al­ter­nate even-num­bered years. In ad­di­tion, a deal has yet to be con­cluded for the con­tin­u­a­tion of the Ital­ian Grand Prix beyond 2016, even though sources claim Monza will ul­ti­mately be re­tained. And there are ques­tion marks over the US Grand Prix in the con­text of a re­duc­tion in fund­ing for the event from the state of Texas.

The en­gine agree­ment struck at the end of April ad­dressed is­sues con­cern­ing price and the avail­abil­ity of cus­tomer en­gines, per­for­mance con­ver­gence and noise. It al­lowed for a price re­duc­tion of 1m ($1.5m) on cus­tomer en­gine deals in 2017 and a fur­ther 3m in 2018. Ways of mak­ing the en­gines sound louder and more dra­matic are also be­ing worked on, while per­for­mance con­ver­gence is hap­pen­ing nat­u­rally.

The Mercedes is still F1’s best en­gine, with a power out­put of more than 700kW, but in­sid­ers say the 2016 Fer­rari en­gine is now only 6kW down on it, while the re­vamped Re­nault is just 10kW adrift. Only Honda are lag­ging signicantly be­hind– they be­lieve their en­gine is 45kW off the Mercedes, but Fer­nando Alonso told Span­ish jour­nal­ists af­ter the Bri­tish GP that it was in the re­gion of 60-70kW down.

Ec­cle­stone has long main­tained that he would have pre­ferred For­mula 1 to re­tain the old 2.4-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V8s, but th­ese are of no ap­peal to man­u­fac­tur­ers, who want to pro­mote and ad­vance hy­brid tech­nol­ogy.

Se­nior gures say that even if Ec­cle­stone does try to in­voke the force ma­jeure clause and put the old en­gines back on the ta­ble, he would lose be­cause the pro­posal would still have to go through the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process and the vote would go the same way as be­fore – in favour of the man­u­fac­tur­ers.

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