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?