The guys from FIA met the representatives from FOTA yesterday to discuss the ways how to make the whole F1 to burn less money. Few days before the meeting Mr. Max Mosley spiced the whole issue up with the announcement of the standard engine supplier tender. The manufacturers involved in F1 were not exactly excited about the stadard engine idea. In an unusual expression of F1 teams unity the FOTA (Formula One Team Assoaciation) came up with own cost cutting ideas. So how did talks go ? Judging from the statement issued by FOTA (represented at the meeting by Luca de Montezemolo from Ferrari and John Howett from Toyota) it looks like not too bad:
“Today’s meeting in Geneva has produced significant cost savings for 2009 and 2010. FOTA are working urgently on further proposals for 2010 and thereafter.”
There was not much else said but The Telegraph and Autosport came with some bits and pieces that were allegedly agreed on.
1) Increased engine longevity. As of the 2009 season drivers will have to use the same V8 for three races.
2) A price cap on customer engines, which will see manufacturers obliged to supply a package of 25 units for a maximum price of 10 million euros per annum.
3) More talks on a reduction in testing, the possible adoption of standard Kinetic Engine Recovery Systems by 2010 or 2011 a well as ways of reducing the cost of chassis manufacture.
Well, there is no sign of any standard engine here and that is perhaps the good thing. But where is that significant saving here ?
Three race engine from 2009 means that not some but all engines must now be defrosted. How would otherwise the teams extend their mileage by 50% ? So this will be the winter of engine development. Perhaps the development cost will be more than offset by the saving on the engine consumption but … Season 2009 will be season of brand new regulations resulting probably in more reliability issues and retirements. Those who do not finish are under current rules allowed to use fresh engines (although a look at the engine stats this year shows they not always do). But if they are facing the choice next year going into a race with engine that already did 2 races or change it for fresh one following retirement I think at least the manufacturers will go for the fresh one everytime they have the option to do so. So, how much saving will this proposal actually bring ?
Price cap on customer engines of 10 million Euros for 25 engines package – This is hard to judge without knowing how much the customers pay for the engines now. It however is double the amount Max Mosley circulated in his letter to FOTA earlier this year. So he either gave in or was never serious about 5 million. This may also be tricky as some teams (like Force India) are negotiating deliveries of complete power train including KERS and gearboxes. This may create some window for moving some expenses from one box to another …
And the most interesting proposal – the standard KERS for 2010 and 2011. Was not KERS the one area that FIA wanted to develop ? Was not KERS development what was supposed to separate winners from loosers ? These were the ideas that Max Mosley circulated as late as yesterday:
“KERS will be essential on all road-going vehicles in the future, irrespective of their means of primary propulsion. The FIA therefore intends to keep KERS as a performance differentiator in Formula One and, indeed, increase its importance in 2011. This will give F1 far more relevance and credibility than the use of vastly expensive racing engines, or extremely light and sophisticated gearboxes, both of which are almost entirely irrelevant to modern road transport.”
The results of the meeting seem to be exactly in the opposite direction – the current engines require some development (if for nothing else than at least to make them last for 3 races) and the KERS insetad of being the perfomance differentiator will become yet another standardized part of Formula 1 package.
It does look like Max Mosley has found a formidable opponent (or equally shrewd partner ?) in the newly created FOTA….
Both parties are due to meet again after the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 2.
P.S. What is going to happen with the standard engine supplier tender ?