Ecclestone: Horner is 100% right

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If you’re Red Bull Racing, what exactly are your options moving forward? Mercedes is 1.61% faster than the rest of the field after the first race of 2015 and that’s a gain over last year’s 1.26% advantage. Doesn’t sound like much when you say it fast but it equated to nearly a half-minute lead in Australia.

Just hunker down and get on with the job is a refrain from F1 fans and that’s perfectly good advice except that RBR doesn’t make their own engines and they are restrained or buoyed by whatever Renault Sport F1 creates. Unfortunately the current spec engine provided seems to be 100bhp down from Mercedes at the moment and the FIA rules have very little room for anyone to improve their engine for the rest of the year.

Does Red Bull Racing continue to spend hundreds of millions on their program if there are very few options of ever being competitive in the next 24 months? This has prompted Helmut Marko to suggest they may be re-assessing their involvement in F1 and RBR boss Christian Horner suggesting that the FIA needs to step in and balance the series like they did to Red Bull when the team was dominating from 2010 to 2013.

That comment has been met with hostility toward Horner and Red Bull by F1 fans but Christian has a supporter and it happens to be F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone:

“They are absolutely 100 percent right,” Ecclestone told Reuters. “There is a rule that I think Max [Mosley] put in when he was there that in the event that a particular team or engine supplier did something magic – which Mercedes have done – the FIA can level up things.

“They have done a first class job which everybody acknowledges. We need to change things a little bit now and try and level things up a little bit.

“What we should have done was frozen the Mercedes engine and leave everybody else to do what they want so they could have caught up. We should support the FIA to make changes.”

IF RBR wanted to use another engine, what are their options? Mercedes may not sell them an engine nor Ferrari as they already have customer teams. Honda and McLaren are starting their new relationship and I can’t imagine Ron Dennis being too keen on Honda supplying another team in 2016.

RBR could make their own engine I suppose but that’s a tough proposition and if you’re not convinced, then why would a team and car maker like McLaren not make their own? It’s not fiscally feasible as McLaren once said.

So where do you go? Do you hang your hat on the continual hint of VW/Audi coming into the series? It’s a tough position to be in and in the end, F1 has an issue with serious disparity and imbalance but that seems to be the norm coming off a Red Bull domination in 2013 and now a Mercedes pummeling in 2014 and most likely 2015. The difference is that he FIA did regulate RBR’s advantage just as they did Ferrari’s back in 2000-2004. Will they do the same to Mercedes? Will F1 change itself completely in 2017? Should RBR wait and be patient for the change? That’s hundreds of millions spent just waiting for 2017 to come along.

I can understand the assessment, I really can, but I would hate to see the team leave the sport. F1’s current evolution has had a knock-on effect that was most likely not anticipated. The series has once again become all about the engines. There is little possibility to overcome the engine performance advantage through tricky aerodynamic tweaks and this leaves a baked-in advantage for Mercedes that is not likely to be caught.

During RBR’s domination, it was more aero reliant and the V8 engine formats had run its logical course given the regulations so the details were in the aero and chassis design. This new format is all about the engine so teams are in a much more difficult situation should they have weak engines and no option for advancing that engine through aggressive development and testing. Both of those scenarios are massively expensive which the sport cannot afford.

Once again, my pie-eyed idea—and I’m not saying it’s a good one—is knowing that these engine specifications were intended to last through 2020, the development cycle was cast and spread over six years. IF F1 is looking to overhaul itself in 2017, then bring the development cycle in line with the shortened timeframe and let the teams develop these engines throughout this year and next. Untie their hands and let them have at it. There is a caveat though…

If Ferrari and Renault want to rapidly advance their engine development over this season and next, they have to cap the engine supply cost to customers. They can’t cast off huge R&D expenses to customer teams. Other than that, develop as much as you want for the next 20 months and then in 2017 the series gets a whole new look.

Hat Tip: Adam Cooper

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Hank Sweet

Remember when anybody could buy a Cosworth DFV and go racing!

jakobusvdl

I agree that if the next 5 seasons aren’t to be Mercedes a benefit series, something needs to be done to rapidly level up the performance of the power units, but I can’t agree that the powerunit manufacturers should have to bear the brunt of the cost of all the further development.
Sadly I think it is likely to wind up with measures that hamper the Mercedes p.u as the way to equalise things, that or sucess ballast (Arrrrrrrrgh! )

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