Despite his best efforts to get the F1 Strategy Group to reconsider the current V6 hybrid engines in Formula 1, Bernie Ecclestone says the group are happy with the new power units and were not keen to change them. In a meeting on Friday, the boss of F1 tried to entice teams to reconsider going back to normally aspirated V8 engines but had no takers.
“Nobody wants to change the engines, they are all happy.
“The engine situation is unchanged. It’s not exactly great progress. The next step is that we will have another meeting in January and the teams will have to come back with something positive. If they don’t, we will say this is how it has got to be.”
This leaves the sport mired in a war of the have’s and have nots as the series heads into the new year. The new-for-2014 hybrid power units have, effectively, put Marussia and Caterham teams out of business with both in administration. The remaining smaller teams have sounded stern warnings about their financial viability in the sport if the series doesn’t come to grips with some form of cost cap.
The term “cost cap” and “cost cutting” have really become synonymous with the cost of these new engines but masking the unflattering commentary about a green initiative isn’t the most politically correct thing to do these days so like “comprehensive immigration reform” or “enhanced interrogation techniques” or “insurgent fighters”, the term has become a diluted phrase for, “these damn things cost too much and sound horrible!”.
With the teams all set to continue with their new electric engines until 2020, Ecclestone told the Independent’s Christian Sylt that the only way to change the engines for next year would be a unanimous vote by all the teams and that just isn’t going to happen:
“You’re never going to get that because Mercedes will never agree,” he said. “For 2016 we would get away without it being unanimous. That’s for the January meeting. These people don’t seem to be making any big effort to save on costs.”
Could the 2016 season see a change then? Most likely if it only required a majority vote but with Honda coming on board with McLaren, Mercedes might find an unlikely ally in Woking, a team they just parted company with.
Mercedes and Renault have invested heavily in this new technology and to be perfectly fair, it is an amazing piece of engineering. What they are achieving is incredibly impressive and one can imagine that both carmakers are happy to continue developing this technology if they feel it is germane to their road car efforts. Green or not, it is truly an impressive power unit.
Having said that, it is the most expensive change to F1 in it’s long history so if only the top three or four teams can play, it may not make much sense no matter how impressive it is and the jury is still out as to whether Ferrari truly find the technology critical to their road car efforts.
Hat Tip: Independent