Fer­rari threat­ens to quit F1 over en­gines


FER­RARI SAYS IT IS PRE­PARED TO WALK away from For­mula 1 af­ter 2020, as it ques­tions Lib­erty Me­dia’s plan re­gard­ing the new en­gine reg­u­la­tions for 2021 and beyond.

“Lib­erty has got a cou­ple of good in­ten­tions in all of this, one of which is to re­duce the cost of ex­e­cu­tion for the team, which I think is good,” said Fer­rari pres­i­dent Ser­gio Mar­chionne in a con­fer­ence call with an­a­lysts to dis­cuss Fer­rari’s lat­est fi­nan­cial re­sults. “[But] there are a cou­ple of things we don’t nec­es­sar­ily agree with. One is the fact that some­how pow­er­train unique­ness is not go­ing to be one of the driv­ers of dis­tinc­tive­ness of the par­tic­i­pants’ line-up.

“I would not coun­te­nance this go­ing for­ward. The fact that we now ap­pear to be at odds in terms of the strate­gic de­vel­op­ment of this thing, and we see the sport in 2021 tak­ing on a dif­fer­ent air, is go­ing to force some de­ci­sions on the part of Fer­rari.

“I un­der­stand Lib­erty may have taken these into ac­count in com­ing up with their views, but I think it needs to be ab­so­lutely clear that un­less we find a set of cir­cum­stances, the re­sults of which are ben­e­fi­cial to the main­te­nance of the brand, and the mar­ket­place, and to the strength­en­ing of the unique po­si­tion for

Fer­rari, Fer­rari will not play.”

Fer­rari, along with the other teams, is tied to F1 un­til the end of 2020, un­der the cur­rent bi­lat­eral agree­ments. Beyond that, all are free to leave. Mar­chionne’s com­ments come af­ter teams and man­u­fac­tur­ers met with F1 chiefs and the FIA last week to dis­cuss the en­gine for­mula to be put into place for 2021.

Mercedes and Re­nault have also ex­pressed their con­cern, sug­gest­ing the pro­posal would start a need­less arms race that could dam­age F1.

Plans for the next gen­er­a­tion of en­gines in­clude a sug­ges­tion of re­tain­ing the cur­rent 1.6-litre en­gine, to be run 3000rpm higher than the cur­rent limit of 15,000rpm. To try to sim­plify the in­ter­nals of the power unit, the MGU-H will be re­moved, and sev­eral pre­scrip­tive de­sign pa­ram­e­ters will be in­tro­duced to “re­strict de­vel­op­ment costs and dis­cour­age ex­treme de­signs and run­ning con­di­tions”. These will in­clude in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal pa­ram­e­ters, with the lat­ter al­low­ing for what the FIA de­scribed as “a plug-and-play en­gine/chas­sis/trans­mis­sion swap ca­pa­bil­ity”.

A sin­gle turbo with di­men­sional con­straints and weight lim­its will be man­dated, while a stan­dard en­ergy store will be in­tro­duced along­side con­trol elec­tron­ics, which have long been stan­dard in F1.

The MGU-K will be made more pow­er­ful, with a focus on man­ual driver de­ploy­ment of the ad­di­tional power, sim­i­lar to the way KERS was used when it was first in­tro­duced into F1 in 2009. This fea­ture will also give driv­ers the op­tion to save up en­ergy over sev­eral laps to in­crease the tac­ti­cal el­e­ments in­volved in rac­ing.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers feel the tweaks are dra­matic

enough to force them to build new en­gines, which in turn will push costs in the short term. Re­nault and Mercedes feel F1 should focus on adapt­ing the cur­rent en­gines to mak­ing them louder and more pow­er­ful.

“De­spite maybe what FOM and the FIA would say, what is put for­ward is a new en­gine,” Re­nault F1 man­ag­ing direc­tor Cyril Abite­boul told Au­tosport. “That’s re­ally for me the most fun­da­men­tal el­e­ment.

“We need to be ex­tremely care­ful be­cause each time we come up with a new reg­u­la­tion that will come up with a new prod­uct, we all know the im­pact. It’s go­ing to open an arms race again, and it will open up the field.”

Mercedes mo­tor­sport boss Toto Wolff echoed his F1 ri­val’s thoughts. “When you look at the bul­let points pre­sented, it looks like no big change and is su­per­fi­cially sim­i­lar – but there’s mas­sive change in there,” he said. “It’s all-new en­gines, with new har­vest­ing and de­ploy­ment strate­gies for en­ergy.

“All of us ac­cept that de­vel­op­ment costs and sound need to be tack­led, but we shouldn’t be run­ning away with cre­ativ­ity in com­ing up with new con­cepts, be­cause it will trig­ger par­al­lel de­vel­op­ment costs over the next three years.”

F1 and the FIA want to at­tract new en­gine man­u­fac­tur­ers, with As­ton Martin, Il­mor and Cos­worth among those to have voiced in­ter­est in en­ter­ing from 2021. But Wolff said that F1 should lis­ten to its cur­rent man­u­fac­tur­ers – Mercedes, Fer­rari, Re­nault and Honda – first be­fore con­sid­er­ing the needs of those want­ing to en­ter. “F1 needs to stay at­trac­tive for the cur­rent en­gine sup­pli­ers and then F1 should be at­trac­tive for new en­trants,” he said. “This is the or­der of pri­or­ity.”

F1 sport­ing boss Ross Brawn said that the 2021 en­gine con­cept was cre­ated with in­put from the cur­rent teams and man­u­fac­tur­ers that have shown an in­ter­est in join­ing F1, to­gether with the FIA and com­mer­cial rights holder.

He added: “We’ve care­fully lis­tened to what the fans think about the cur­rent power unit and what they would like to see in the near fu­ture with the ob­jec­tive to de­fine a set of reg­u­la­tions that will pro­vide a pow­er­train that is sim­pler, cheaper and nois­ier, and will cre­ate the con­di­tions to fa­cil­i­tate new man­u­fac­tur­ers to en­ter For­mula 1 as pow­er­train sup­pli­ers and to reach a more lev­elled field in the sport.”

“We shouldn’t run away with cre­ativ­ity with new con­cepts”

Mar­chionne (on mic): will he carry on play­ing?

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