En­gine man­u­fac­tur­ers agree on F1’s fu­ture

F1 Racing (UK) - - INSIDER -

For­mula 1’s en­gine man­u­fac­tur­ers have finally con­cluded a deal with the FIA that will cut the cost of en­gines sup­plied to cus­tomers and is also in­tended to close up the grid. The agree­ment covers the four ar­eas man­u­fac­tur­ers agreed last Novem­ber to ad­dress.

The first of these is cost. It has been agreed that prices will come down by 1m in 2017 and re­duce by a fur­ther 3m in 2018.

Next up is con­ver­gence. The ‘to­ken sys­tem’ re­strict­ing en­gine devel­op­ment will be aban­doned from 2017, leav­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers free to change their en­gines in any way they see fit when­ever they want.

The third point is sup­ply. An ‘obli­ga­tion to sup­ply’ agree­ment has been con­cluded to en­sure that no team will ever be with­out an en­gine. If an en­gine is ever re­quired, the agree­ment will guar­an­tee the cost of that sup­ply at 12m.

Last of all is noise. Engi­neers are work­ing on a sound gen­er­a­tor sys­tem to en­hance the noise the en­gines make. This was de­scribed by FIA head of pow­er­trains, Fabrice Lom, as “not fake, but not purely nat­u­ral”. The in­ten­tion is that it will “re­ally in­crease the in­ten­sity and qual­ity of the en­gine sound”. Af­ter many months of wran­gling, teams and en­gine man­u­fac­tur­ers have reached agree­ment over the sup­ply of power units

The ‘obli­ga­tion to sup­ply’ as­pect of the ar­range­ment came about be­cause of the sit­u­a­tion in which Red Bull found them­selves last year, when they wanted to drop Renault but could not per­suade any other man­u­fac­turer to sup­ply them.

Red Bull team prin­ci­pal Chris­tian Horner was crit­i­cal of the agree­ment, say­ing it “tick­les the price, deals a lit­tle bit with con­ver­gence, the obli­ga­tion to sup­ply doesn’t re­ally ap­ply”. And Force In­dia deputy team prin­ci­pal Bob Fern­ley said his team “re­served their po­si­tion”.

This led an ex­as­per­ated Toto Wolff of Mercedes to say: “I just want to digest what I heard in the last five min­utes. We achieved a ma­jor price re­duc­tion over two years. We have opened up devel­op­ment scope for oth­ers to catch up. We have de­signed an obli­ga­tion to sup­ply so no team runs out of an en­gine con­tract. We have found a mech­a­nism how per­for­mance con­ver­gence could be trig­gered. Lots of good things, months of hard work in try­ing to get every­body on the same page – I think it’s a good step for­ward.”

Red Bull’s en­gine con­tract with Renault ex­pires this sea­son, but they are un­likely to fall back on the obli­ga­tion-to-sup­ply guar­an­tees. Renault have al­ready of­fered them a new deal, and they will al­most cer­tainly con­tinue with the cur­rent ar­range­ment of buy­ing Renault’s en­gines and badg­ing them for a spon­sor, cur­rently the watch man­u­fac­turer Tag Heuer.

Dis­putes over cost, per­for­mance and noise are be­ing re­solved, but the in­de­pen­dent teams are yet to be fully con­vinced

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