FIA issue tender for low-cost engine supply; engine wars begin

Things are starting to get dicey in Formula 1 concerning engines…or power units. On the heels of the USGP, the FIA have announced a new tender for a low-cost engine supplier for the 2017 season. Here is the FIA announcement in full:

The FIA has studied cost reduction measures for teams participating in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship which were not conclusive, including:

– a global cost ceiling,

– a reduction in costs via technical and sporting regulations,

– an increased standardisation for parts.

The FIA, in agreement with FOM, suggested the principle of setting a maximum price for engine and gear box for client teams at the last Strategy Group meeting.

These measures were put to the vote and adopted with a large majority.

However, Ferrari SpA decided to go against this and exercise the right of veto long recognised under agreements governing F1.

In the interest of the Championship, the FIA has decided not to legally challenge Ferrari SpA’s use of its right of veto.

Therefore the FIA will initiate a consultation with all stakeholders regarding the possible introduction of a client engine, which will be available as of 2017. Following this consultation a call for tenders for this client engine, the cost of which would be much lower than the current power unit, could be undertaken.

Supported by FOM, the FIA will continue in its efforts to ensure the sustained long-term development of the Championship and look for solutions enabling it to achieve this. It asks all of the teams to make a positive contribution to the success of this approach through proposals and initiatives in the interest of the Championship and its continuation over the long term.

It is understood that Ferrari have exercised their right to veto the concept of a cost-cap by the FIA and this, according to reports, have prompted the tender.

What’s interesting is the ZDF interview from last week with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and former FIA president Max Mosley. Ecclestone’s press conference at COTA and now this tender. The positioning is intricate and perhaps delicate where it needs to be and rather blunt-forced where it has to be.

You’ll recall that over the weekend, Ecclestone said that Honda were keen to supply Red Bull and engine but it was being blocked by McLaren boss Ron Dennis who enjoys his exclusivity. No doubt a power play but it does lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of Dennis.

Now the tender, which levels off at Ferrari, is offered because Ferrari isn’t willing to make the changes needed to secure the future of F1…at least that’s the implication. Surely veteran fans will know that it is more than Ferrari who have a vested interest in not changing anything. Namely those chaps that won the USGP and both driver’s and constructor’s titles.

It’s heating up in F1 and regardless of many of the harsh words and carping about Red Bull detonating it’s Renault relationship, I still maintain that F1 does not want to lose its largest privateer who spends millions, if not billions, on the series in total. not just the racing team but the entire series.

Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1

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Paul KieferJr

Thus the Machiavellian-type war begins. Let’s see who’s left standing when it’s all said and done. For reference, read “The Prince” and “Illuminatus”.


There’s a lot of details to be worked out if these alternative engines are going to happen, as they’ll either consume more fuel than the current hybrids or produce less power, which will make the cars heavier in the early stages of a race – or slower overall, both of which can be countered by making them lighter. But how much lighter? Enough to make them competitive with Mercedes … or competitive with Sauber? Obviously the engine manufacturer works teams will not like this one bit, and will threaten to pull out – Mercedes will at least as it directly… Read more »

Dr. Bob

Let’s see: At least a few weeks to prepare a Tender Request. Another few weeks for Tender Offers to arrive and be evaluated. So, maybe a selection of one or more developers for the new power unit by the end of this year. To have a new power unit ready to deliver to buyers before the end of 2016 leaves about nine months for actual development, testing and fabrication. Will anyone be interested in having a go for a cost-capped end product? If the end product of power unit and fully fueled race car is heavier than the current regulations… Read more »

Paul KieferJr

That brings us to this question: What is F1? Is it a works series or a privateer series. Can the two co-exist as it is? Maybe Red Bull can, maybe Williams can, or maybe not, but certainly the rest of the privateers can’t, and the worse part of it is that the works teams lord their advantage over the privateers. God does not like that sort of thing.


I believe both can exist, and both need to with the grossly prohibitive costs deterring new manufacturers from reserving a tent at the circus. If a capped engine cost is the route, then I’ll support it. I’m not sure id be against it anyway. Cap the manufacturers’ expenditure instead of capping the engine cost. The producer will always have the edge on tech and a lead in further developments.

Tommy Mac

hey longshot..RBR is working on their own ERS..they already own and use their own batteries and were supplying gearboxes, how far advandced that ERS is nobody seems to know, They still have 2016 in place for Renault supply if that has to happen, so the possibilities are nearly endless, Ricciardo is under contract till 2018 unfortunately so who knows. only one pushing for 3 cars is Toto wolf it will be interesting to see what happens there.


This is definitely the most interesting “silly season” in years :)

Tommy Mac

It most definitely is..tbh i just want to see more racing, close racing the politics has always been nuts in F1

charlie white

So who will answer this call for a lower-tier engine? Could we see a return of some historic names like Judd, Hart or Cosworth?

The Sarcastic SOB

No, Charlie. It’ll take too much time and too much money and no independant manufacturer would risk it.

Esteban Muller

This is just a play from Bernie to force someone to lower the cost of the PUs to the private teams. If the manufacturers loose the income from selling PUs they might be forced to cap the cost. Better to make a little money than nothing at all. And it goes back to last year when all the hoolabaloo about in season development was going on, Toto’s line was that if there was in season development someone had to pay for it, who? The customer teams…


Its not just about cost. Bernie wants to avoid a situation where a competitive team is forced out of Formula 1 because none of the PU manufacturers will supply them with an engine.

Esteban Muller

Do you really think RB will take that PU not knowing how good it’s going to be? RB only wants the best because they can afford it, they don’t need an affordable unit.


True, but RB are simply not going to get the best. Renault aren’t going to get there due to their lack of investment, Merc and Ferrari won’t supply them for competitive reasons, and Ron Dennis has barred access to Honda (though for how long he can do this remains to be seen).

I can’t see RB going for this alternate PU either, not unless (a) they’re happy with whatever rules are introduced to ensure balance, and (b) they themselves take a controlling stake in whichever company develops the engines.

The Sarcastic SOB

This is all empty posturing anyway since it is already too late to do anything substantive for 2016 and RBR will have to do some major, highly public, groveling to get ANY engine.


All the teams are absolutely willing to take losses if it means securing a title.

Esteban Muller

Absolutely, but they do have a “board” and shareholders to answer to, specially Merc


And thus we see the onset of the many predictive failures in the FIA’s “2014 Formula One Power Unit Regulations,” beginning with the idea that “the best car in Formula One will be the most efficient. This is what the new power unit regulations are designed to promote.” Here are some more big fails (also known as “whistling in the dark”): ** “The new units will consume 35% less fuel than the current V8s.” I’ve run the numbers, as have others. The fuel savings for the entire season and the entire field of F1 amounts to about the same savings… Read more »

The Sarcastic SOB

The most road-relevant aspect of F1 is the safety car.


Here’s one that could work………

The Sarcastic SOB


Richard Bunce