So, what to do next about current Formula 1 engines ?

Sebastian Vettel Toro Rosso

Sebastian Vettel Toro Rosso

When the FIA first announced the plans to freeze the engine development back in 2006 the first thing that came to my mind was – “How can that be ?” The logic of saving huge money by not having to spend millions only to gain few horsepowers more than the theguys in the next garage made some sense. But, if some engine was superior in 2006 that would mean the same engine being superior for the whole of 2007 … Hm … Well, somehow the teams managed to get their powerplants on sort of equal level, the 19,000 rpm limit probably also having something to do with that. But how about if someone has reliability issues ? Will they be for a year(s) stuck with engines that blow up in every race ? No, they wwould not. For this reason there was a provison made allowing manufacturers to change parts at the FIA’s discretion if it reduces costs or improves reliability (creating the future loophole).

Then however came end of the 2007 season and FIA announced that the engine freeze would last for 10 years. What ? The pinnacle of motorsport stuck with the same engines for the entire decade ? That did not make much sense to me and I think few believed this would seriously happen. It is not happening, the freeze has been to reduced to 5 years only. Now it looks that the freeze is not really a freeze …

Already in July this year Flavio Briatore complained that unlike others, Renault have stuck to the letter of the rule and as a result have fallen back. Some others, notably Ferrari, BMW and Mercedes did what the smart guys always do in F1 – they found the loophole in the rules – and added what is rumoured to be as much as 30hps to their engine performances. The situation in Red Bull in Toro Rosso suggests this may indeed be the case.

As Christian Horner said following the Italian GP, Vettel’s win was still Red Bull win, no matter the car is called Toro Rosso. In Horner’s words “the only difference in the package is the drivers and the engine”. Yes, some can argue that perhaps Red Bull drivers are no match for Vettel, but let’s leave that discussion for next year when these guys will be team mates. Christian Horner probably knows these two better than us and he himself is rather vocal about the fact that the engines make the difference:

“Renault give us a very good service. Last year we had a competitive engine and this year others appear to be ahead of us from our analysis. And obviously there is no bigger example than between the two Red Bull teams, so for us it is very important that Renault address it in the appropriate way.
I know that they understand where the issues are. The problem is they took the ruling of the freeze absolutely literally, and others took advantage more than they did. And Renault have paid the penalty for that. The problem is, being stuck with that for five years is an untenable position for Renault or any other team that has that kind of disadvantage.”

And so some behind the scenes efforts have started to do something about this “untenable position”. Those that have fallen behind apparently want to be allowed to catch back. Moreover they are confident that by the end of the season the issue will be solved and the playing field leveled.

Hm, level playing field sounds good, but in this case it means the goal is all engines being equal ! Is that what we want to have in F1 ? If yes, then why simply do not go for single engine supplier, let’s remove another variable like with the tyres… How does that sound ? Not too good to me …

Now, how would they want to level that playing field ? They can’t ask Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes to go back. They all made only necessary changes to improve the reliability, remember ? So the only way is open up the the engine development for few months to allow those lagging behind to catch up. OK, but how will FIA decide who will be allowed to do the catch up work and who will not ? And if next year the same disparity shows up and Ferrari and Mercedes complain about Toyota and Renault, then what ?

Does the engine freeze still make any sense ? Would not this be the right time to discuss some arrangement how to end this “engine freeze” thingy ?

Update: Max Mosley has his idea that he reportedly mentioned to French daily L’Equipe. Mosley’s idea is common F1 engine for all teams … Please tell me he was misquoted …

Photo: Red Bull/GEPA

7 Comments Post a Comment
  1. What I want to know is, when did everyone decide that in F1 the purpose of the game was to give everyone equal equipment? It looks like another way F1 is turning into ‘GP1′.

    And what happens if a new manufacturer wishes to join?

    Keith Collantines last blog post..Could Sebastien Bourdais have beaten Sebastian Vettel in the Italian GP?

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      I am not sure if the equal equipment was the original idea, but the recent (meaning past few years) steps taken and rules implemented by FIA are moving the sport in that direction … And the idea is catching up with people like Flavio .. why they simply do not do the same others are doing ? it is obviously legal as both Hamilton’s and Massa’s engines already passed the routine checks

      if new engine manufacturer wishes to enter the sport, they could get the 2006 Cosworth V8 still not that outdated and rebadge it, then work on the reliability issues :-)

  2. francoisNo Gravatar says:

    They may as well get rid of the engine freeze – it’s quite clear now it’s as effective as a chocolate fireguard in saving costs and keeping everyone on a level playing field.

    I’d also like to see them remove the 19k rpm limiter as well – I’d bet most of these engines can happily sustain 19,500 rpm and I know that the McLaren engine in 2006 was capable of running at 20k without trouble.Also , let’s go back to the original purpose of ensuring engines last multiple sessions which was to prevent the top teams developing qualifying chassis (no radiators , special engines with life expectancy of 20km etc) which I recall was talked about.Making one engine last a race weekend would be fair enough to achieve this.

  3. F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

    From the news today:

    FIA president Max Mosley favors the introduction of a common engine across the board for Formula One race cars.

    He told a French newspaper Wednesday that the measure would help put a lid on the sport’s exploding costs. Mosley also said development of a common engine would help make F1 research more applicable to ordinary automobiles.

    Mosley has called on teams to work together to create common suspensions, tires and gear boxes.

    In an interview in sports daily L’Equipe, Mosley said the main challenges facing F1 are rising costs and public awareness of environmental problems.

    The report quoted him as calling teams’ investment in technology development “irrational.”

  4. […] So, what to do next about current Formula 1 engines ? – F1 Wolf"FIA announced that the engine freeze would last for 10 years. What ? The pinnacle of motorsport stuck with the same engines for the entire decade ? That did not make much sense to me and I think few believed this would seriously happen. It is not happening, the freeze has been to reduced to 5 years only. Now it looks that the freeze is not really a freeze …" […]

  5. RickyNo Gravatar says:

    Hey guys I have started to watch this sport. It’s amazing and have become one of my favorite sports. Thanks to FIA. I would like to ask one question what does freezing of engine means?

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      people talk about “engine freeze” but in fact it is freeze on engine development. in theory it means that the teams (or engine makers) are not allowed to further develop their engines during the engine freeze period – that is now for 5 years

      some teams however found loopholes in regulations and so while some teams (like Renault) are stuck where they were a year ago, others, like Ferrari or Mercedes found some ways how to insrease their engine power and still reamin within the rules

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