Mercedes and Renault have warned against delaying the introduction of Formula One’s new engine regulations beyond 2014, amid suggestions that the extra expense could stretch the budgets of smaller teams too far.
Formula One is set to switch from the current 2.4-litre naturally aspirated V8s to 1.6-litre turbo charged V6s in two years’ time. The original plan was to introduce four cylinder turbo engines in 2013, but it was altered and postponed a year following concerns about the sound and image of the sport.
However, recent reports in Italy and Germany said smaller teams have raised concerns about the cost of the new engines – not to mention the cost of overhauling the designs of their cars – with suggestions the introduction of the V6 turbos could be delayed.
When asked about a possible delay and if customer teams would be offered engines at a price matching the V8s, Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said: “I think it would be a mistake to delay the engines again. If you recall, we’ve already delayed them one year and we’ve had to… in fact we’ve changed them from a four cylinder to a six cylinder and then we delayed them a year.
“Every change actually costs a lot of money for the people investing in new engines. We’re committed to a new engine programme, it’s progressing, we’ve been able to justify the budgets to our board and we don’t want to see a deferment or a delay in that new engine.”
Renault Sport managing director Jean-Francois Caubet played down suggestions that the price of the engines would cause ructions.
“I think we will probably know in September the cost of the new engine. I don’t think the cost of the new engine will be a drama.”
And he made Renault Sport’s stance on the introduction of the new engine in 2014 clear.
“We have already delayed the engine once, from four cylinder to go to six cylinders. I think it cost us around ten or 15 million, probably the same for Mercedes and probably the same for Ferrari. So we have blown nearly 50 million for nothing. If you delay one year, we think it will be never (happen) because the delay will be ’15 and then ’16. For Renault, it is a strategic choice.”
Brawn added that if Formula One wants to attract new engine manufacturers – one of the reasons the change was proposed in the first place – it must stick to the 2014 switch.
“I think it sends a very bad message back in terms of Formula One to keep changing its direction on things that are so fundamental, which need so much investment to make work,” he said. “I think the new engine is very exciting. I think today engines are not really a topic in Formula One; they used to be, and I think it used to add to the sport, that the engine was quite a large factor in the performance envelope or the performance cycle of the car. I think the engines are much more relevant. Our company is getting some real benefits from the technology of this engine. We are using expertise and resource within the company to develop and design this new engine. It’s a much more relevant engine. We’re going to be running around on two thirds of the fuel that we’re running on now with, we think, comparable power outputs.
“We’ve got to change the engine at some stage. We will become irrelevant with the engine if we don’t look to change. The world’s changing and I think the new engine is a far more relevant engine for Formula One for the future. If we’re going to get new manufacturers into Formula One, which I think is a good thing, then why will they come in to build an antique V8 engine? They won’t. They will only come in with this new engine, so we want to attract manufacturers back into Formula One and this new engine is very important [in doing that].”