Engine freeze to cut costs? Why not an engine change?

As Formula 1 teams hunker down under the weight of the Coronavirus, the financial impact is being felt across all industries and businesses. F1 teams are no different in that sense and finding to ways to cut costs is important a this time.

The series owners and regulators have joined the teams in pushing back the proposed technical regulation changes until 2022 and there is talk this could move to 2023.This move will delay expensive all-new car development costs.

The $175 million cost cap is slated to start in 2021 and as Mr. Noble points out at Autosport, there is a thought that reducing this cap even further, say by another $25M, might help but that would lead to serious concerns over redundancies and measures teams would rather avoid when it comes to employees.

Another idea is to freeze the engine thus stopping any development work and reducing costs. The article says this could last for several years and it would “dramatically reduce R&D costs” and could also reduce the amount customer teams have to pay for engines.

When Ross Brawn decided to engage in an in-depth look at regulation changes in order to improve racing, he included a serious look at the engine and potential overhaul of those regulations as well as the chassis and aerodynamics.

The team pressed back hard on any changes to the engine and the FIA liked it’s semi-green power unit for political purposes. However, the current hybrid has been around since 2013 and if the freeze the engine for several more years, this hybrid will be the longest-standing engine formula in the sports history and it happens to be one that a mass of fans dislike.

Why would Formula 1, who took it on the chin back in 2014 for delivering a flatulent sounding, overpriced, technical marvel, continue with an engine format for several more years even though it is a formula fans aren’t that happy with? Why would team press so hard for Brawn to keep his hands off the hybrid engine when penning new technical regulations?

If you were looking to reduce costs and you felt that freezing the engines was a way to do it then revert back to the V8’s they have on the shelves. They are cheap, relatively speaking, reliable, competitive, efficient for an internal combustion engine and they deliver serious power and well as visceral sound.

In 2021, we will have been listening to and paying for these hybrid engines for eight seasons. That’s enough. Time to move to a new formula. We’ve advocated stripping the MGU-H off and using a twin turbo V6 with KERS or MGU-K and ERS. Let’s reduce the cost and get back to good racing. Admittedly, stripping down a current V6, adding a second turbo and higher output KERS unit would insure R&D cost but it might be a format for the next 7 years.

Only in F1 could freezing a bloated and over-priced engine be consider as cost-saving when you could simply revert to a stripped down V6/hybrid formula or move to a V8 which is on the shelf and a fraction of the price.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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They don’t have the V8s on the shelf, and the manufacturer’s would spend as much if not more to develop a new engine as they did to develop the current units. Honda weren’t competing in the last year’s of the V8s.
They also used twice the fuel that the existing power units use, so the cars would need to be redesigned to accommodate a much bigger fuel tank. Also the engine would be a different size and weight and have different cooling requirements, meaning further redesign of the chassis.
In short, it would cost a significant amount extra.