‘F1 got it wrong…it’s nonsense’

In an interesting commentary on the current state of Formula 1, former head of Cosworth F1, Mark Gallagher, says that the FIA, F! and the manufacturers got it wrong…period:


“I have to say that, having run Cosworth for a couple of years and sat in a lot of the meetings at which the FIA, along with the engine manufacturers, were discussing these new regulations, everyone in that room got it wrong,” he said.

“We specifically got it wrong in relation to the forecast of how reliable these highly complex hybrid engines would be.

“I think there really needs to be an understanding that there’s nothing wrong if the FIA admit that they got it wrong with the engine manufacturers and now change their approach to these rules, because it’s a nonsense. It’s a nonsense for fans, it’s a nonsense for the teams.”


As a man who sat in the meetings, he knows what the intent was and he has seen the result. The simple fact is that F1, in his estimation, should just admit that they got it wrong and change the formula.

The rumors of a potential sell of CVC Capital’s stake in F1 is circling the globe and perhaps there are myriad of permutations on this story but the simple fact is that CVC may be looking for an exit after 10 years of skimming windfall profits from the series. Given the current, waning state of F1, the investment group may feel it is time to move on have plundered the series for a decade.

The engines (power units) are the issue. They always have been and will be until such time as the FIA and F1 make an executive decision about the future of F1’s power.

Cosworth departed the series when the hybrid systems were brought in and Gallagher feels that Honda and Renault should be given a chance to catch up such is the lopsided disparity between engines. The delta’s between the different V8’s was never this great and it was the aerodynamics that determined much of the difference. Today, the engine (power unit) rules the series and in particular, one certain power unit to which Mark revealed:


“In 2010, a year before these regulations were signed off, I remember sitting in a meeting in Paris, at the FIA, and we all discussed what would happen if one manufacturer got it so right that they ran away with the ball,” he said.

“Everyone said: ‘Well we’ll just have to make sure that doesn’t happen.’ Well that’s precisely what’s happened and the reality is that Mercedes deserve every pat on the back; they deserve these world championships that they’re winning last year and this year. But we now have to say we got that wrong.

“Renault need to be allowed to develop a competitive engine for Red Bull and their other teams. The same applies to Honda; it’s utterly ridiculous that McLaren-Honda have both hands tied behind their back and, as Alex said, a driver of Fernando Alonso’s capability, and Jenson Button’s capability, arrive at a grand prix weekend with enough grid penalties to put them in a different country.”


Those are keen insights to a series that is having difficulty admitting they got it wrong but then who wants egg on their face? Martin Brundle has accused folks of piling on and kicking the sport when its down but many believe they are simply tired of complimenting the emperor’s new clothes.

Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1

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Paul KieferJr

Admittedly, Mr. Gallagher was a little more charitable than I would have been, but he’s definitely right. However, I will say that whatever changes need to be made has to happen now. I don’t see anyone in the world with any sort of patience for this disaster, least of all me.


This situation reminds me of a poker cliché. When you’re in a bad situation with no realistic way of winning the hand, fold. “Don’t throw good money after bad.” This is exactly what the FIA are doing with the current regulations. They’re allowing teams to continue to spend good money on a bad hand. Cut the technical regulation book in half and you’re on the right path.

Daniel Johnson

Unfortunately the system is such that there are no quick fixes (nor should there be). What we need is a new structure that allows freedom to develop within a constrained financial ecosystem. Until that happens you’ll just be playing Russian roulette with teams getting new spec right (Mercs) or wrong (Renaults).

Tom Firth

In my pointless and lacking of direction rant yesterday … I didn’t mean the engines aren’t a factor, just that it isn’t the only issue with F1, it is most likely the factor that pushed things over the edge, and F1 did certainly get the regulation set wrong. Whether that is in the core DNA of this regulation set, or the way it is governed, is for interpretation, and I agree with Mark Gallagher really, F1 should say hey we got it wrong. However I personally do not believe that changing the engine formula, will be the magic fix for… Read more »


I think some of the problems you’ve listed are historic constants of F1. Others are exacerbated by Formula H(ybrid). The unfortunate but growing disenchantment with the sport started 2 years ago, exactly coincident with MGU-H. Not 40 years ago when there were also problems with finances, sponsors, circuits, or even with FOM and its predecessors. Those latter “problems” have always existed, at least since WW II.

Tom Firth

The growing disenchantment started when BMW, Honda and Toyota suddenly woke up and thought, why are we spending this money for a product that is irrelevant to what we do on the road. That is when someone hit the panic button. Now sure, I don’t know whether road relevance has a place in F1 to the extent it does, and debatably, that is a legacy of the manufacturers leaving, and yes the cost of these Hybrid systems have exacerbated the situation but the problems lay far earlier than this formula. It will solve areas if it is removed, but F1… Read more »

Tom Firth

Lets just agree to disagree on what the causes are, and how to fix them, Clearly we have very different viewpoints on Hybrid systems. I think Hybrids can be a major part of F1 sustainably, but not in the way it has been governed.

Negative Camber

With all due respect, Honda, BMW and Toyota left because of the global financial crisis and told the world they were really leaving because they wanted to focus on electric cars. Fair enough but where’s is BMW’s electric hybrid in LMP1? Or Honda’s? The prime mover was financial but the narrative was sustainability.

Tom Firth

Fair point, BMW actually left for DTM though too to be fair. As well as the economy,but they still kind of set things in place for this electric path to be followed before they left I guess too.

Tom Firth

And anyway that bmw lmp1 may be here in 2017 but that is unconnected and irrelevant.


All the manufactures were involved and agreed with the decisions made, Mercedes built the best engine, the others built not so good engines. Ask Sauber if they would agree to not being allowed to develop their car till Manor caught up with them, they would not agree. All this was done in trying to decrease costs, but even the FIA know (or should) that if you make major changes to the Construction, Aero and Power Unit rules, there will be a massive rise in costs. Perhaps relaxing the rules will help a little, but the major saving would come from… Read more »


The “power units” of 2014/15 Formula H(ybrid) are exactly and precisely the core problem from which many others are manifested. Until this nonsense is reduced or somehow completely stopped there will be no recovery for F1. http://www.fiainstitute.com/about/Pages/EnvironmentalPolicy.aspx.htm This is the elephant in the living room. F1 – and indeed all motorsport under the purview of FIA – will have to take a very serious look at the cognitive dissonance of “sustainable motorsport” and decide whether this is appropriate to its historic and future objectives. It is one thing (and not a bad one at all) for manufacturers to experiment with… Read more »

Tom Firth

Completely disagree. In 2002, the BBC, the telegraph and various other sources spoke of the issues in team finance and the vulnerability of small teams extensively, including gaining new sponsors. These problems are not related to the current engine formula directly, it is rooted in the far longer held agreements F1 teams have with FOM.

The current formula is merely a catalyst that has once again brought them to the fore.

Tom Firth

By the way I wrote this before the response you put below about “I think some of the problems you’ve listed are historic constants of F1” Just to clarify.


You don’t need to “completely disagree” since I concur that the financial aspects are longstanding and preceded the current formula. I also completely agree that it’s the “catalyst” aspect of the current formula that’s raising these matters once again. There’s a whole category of F1 “problems” that will never be solved – only renegotiated – all of them having to do with “who gets what money, and how much.” And there’s another set of problems having to do with “what is F1 to fans, to teams, and to motorsport as a whole.” When the FIA decided (and the teams agreed)… Read more »

Tom Firth

Ok with what you wrote after, I agree I misread / misunderstood your initial comment, and putting aside the other stuff for abit. I thought by this – “The “power units” of 2014/15 Formula H(ybrid) are exactly and precisely the core problem from which many others are manifested. Until this nonsense is reduced or somehow completely stopped there will be no recovery for F1.” I thought you meant the hybrid is the core (central) reasoning for factors including fan involvement, event attendance and driver satisfaction falling, which I didn’t agree with as I see it as a number of factors,… Read more »


Again more great insight, thanks. To sort out the engine disparity they need to unlock the engine development cost restrictions. Let the manufacturers go full tilt and spend what they like to get up to speed but try and create rules that protect the small teams from suffering because of the engine war. I know it won’t be simple but something like a cost cap on how much an engine can cost for customer teams. Let engine manufacturers run old cars as much as they like anywhere they want but with fixed aero so no development on chassis or aero… Read more »

Tom acito

If the losing engine manufactures get free reign to upgrade… There goes the budget. The customers are gonna be billed for this … Bottom line… Cost control via the fia. $$ Credits to the designers and manufacturers to defray costs, and incentive to the customers to get off their collective asses and make their own cars. Basically a manufacturer gets credit for being ORIGINAL. This is F1, not freaking NASCAR. They are supposed to be prototypes. I do agree the complexity of the current power units is plain bad idea. Rube Goldberg would be proud.