Things are getting a little dicey over the whole 2017 engine and regulations changes that are due later this month. The teams, along with the FIA and FOM (Formula One Management), agreed to table the concept of an alternative engine spec for the series and they were all to go away and brainstorm on ideas on how to reduce the cost of engine supplies.
They are due to reconvene this week and discuss their ideas. In the old days, Flavio would show up with a slide projector and treat them all to a 2-hour “what I did on winter vacation” show replete with mankini and naked women but those were the old days. Now, there’s work to be done and the teams are getting vocal in the press about how they feel regarding a second engine format or even the mandate that the World Motor Council gave Messrs. Ecclestone and Todt to make whatever changes they deemed needed to safeguard the sport. To quote Uncle Billy, there’s a squall in there and it’s shaping up to be a real storm…somebody better call the bank examiner.
The first thing you may have noticed is that new Ferrari CEO, Sergio Marchionne, isn’t afraid to poke anyone in the eye (heck, he fired Luca di Montezemolo for pete’s sake) and I get the impression he isn’t too worried about FOM boss Bernie Ecclestone either. That’s a bit like running with scissors or sniffing paint thinner in my book but then I’m not Sergio…the leader of Fiat Chrysler and Ferrari and all the little machinations, minions and off-shoots of those entities.
Sergio says that if F1 wants a low-cost competitive engine for small teams then they can go pay for it:
“If you go to Mercedes and you tell them ‘please give us a group of engineers to develop in a parallel mode a different engine, different to that of Mercedes that is compliant with the F1 rules and that costs a certain amount’ then I think FOM should cover that amount of money,”
Yikes. Now, on one hand I sense that’s a bit like tossing a champagne flute in the lap of a demure Bernie Ecclestone (not an Adrian Sutil throat cutting flute mind you). On the other hand, does he have a point? How onerous can the FIA regulations be for a team who happens to be a manufacturer? To mandate that they have to supply several teams at a loss leader is asking a lot of a company. In my mind, this simply means that if you’ve made the engines so complex that only the top manufacturers can make them, then you may have chosen poorly.
That’s easy to say though, isn’t it? It’s the high-tech engines that attract manufacturers so it’s dammed if you do, damned if you don’t…or is it? Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think throwing down a gauntlet like this is dangerous because Mr. E isn’t the sort of man to be trifled with. I could very well see him paying for a new engine spec, deducting it from the small teams prize money payout and making it a higher performing format than the current hybrid engines just to prove a point.
Like all threats and innuendos, we need to be careful here. Mr. E could broker a deal with Ford and Cosworth and bring back a V8 with KERS and kick everyone backside. Then again, he has folks to answer too as well so it is hard to know how this will play out.
As for capping the supply costs, Marchionnne doesn’t see that happening:
“Ferrari spends a lot of money in F1 and this has a great impact on the brands and development on a lot of our commercial activities that do not have a lot to do with F1,” he said. “It costs a lot of money.
“This is also expensive for Mercedes. It seems the only winner is Bernie.
“Those who are managing the commercial rights should take their responsibility.
“We also have a responsibility but it’s different.
“A change in the rules, imposing obligations on Ferrari or Mercedes, is absolutely inappropriate.”
I see his point and in the end, I think the FIA created the situation when the ushered in the manufacturer-luring V6 Hybrid engine that is so complex that only a select few can make it and have it competitive. That’s not to say that in time Renault and Honda can’t also make their competitive but it will take time and I’m not sure Mr. E is willing to wait.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT