Budget engine proposal blown out of the water
The idea made Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone unlikely allies, but their bid to curb the power of the manufacturers has failed
Mercedes and Ferrari have won the first stage of their battle with Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt over engine supply. The F1 bosses had wanted a cheaper, alternative engine to run alongside the turbo hybrids in 2017, but the plan was rejected at a meeting of the F1 Commission before the Abu Dhabi GP.
F1’s car manufacturers have, however, agreed to look into ways of resolving ongoing concerns about some aspects of the hybrid engines. These will be: a guarantee of supply to teams; the need to reduce the cost of engines; simplification of specification; and more noise.
The manufacturers have undertaken to “present a proposal by 15 January 2016 that will seek to provide solutions to the above concerns”, the FIA said in a statement.
The rejection of the alternative engine plan will be a relief to many in F1. Even those who were publicly backing the idea conceded that running two different engines to an equivalency formula would have been “a disaster”. Interestingly, Todt and Ecclestone had joined forces on the idea for very different reasons.
Todt, who backs the hybrid engines and was instrumental in their introduction, was using it as leverage against the manufacturers to get them to reduce the cost of customer engines. Ecclestone opposes hybrids but insiders say he was motivated more by a desire to reduce the power of the engine manufacturers – and in particular of Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne and Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff.
Despite setting up the current governance structure, including the relatively new Strategy Group, Ecclestone has found it difficult to push his ideas through. This underlines the power of Mercedes and Ferrari within F1 at the moment.
The question now is how the manufacturers will simplify current engines without removing the MGU-H, the power-unit component that is key to the current efficiency formula and which is the main development route of relevance to road cars.
Ecclestone and Todt joined forces to push through budget engines, but their plans have been rejected by the F1 Commission