Hamilton not the only one talking, Vettel critical of engines

Lewis Hamilton has been in the press lately speaking his mind about the challenges Formula 1 is currently facing and I, for one, enjoy his opinions on the matter. I liked the days when drivers shared their opinions be they pro or con on a subject. I recall JV doing a lot of that in his day but that was back in the 90’s.

While Lewis is being praised for his outspokenness, we forget that Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is equally outspoken on the sport and always has been.

This week he told Sky Sports F1:

“I personally think the current power unit regulations are too expensive and it would be beneficial for all the teams and the whole sport to go back to something normally aspirated,” Vettel said.

Pointed out to him that a proposal to cap engine costs was vetoed by Ferrari last year, Vettel stood by his comments – after a moment of awkwardness.

“What I said and I stick to what I said is that these power units are too expensive,” he added. “They have cost a lot of money already and they will keep costing a lot of money.

“Everything else that we have been trying to with changes to rules doesn’t change the key problem and I think a lot of problems that we face now goes back to the fact it was the wrong way to go. It is easy now to raise your hand and admit that, but we are still stuck with what we have.

“I can’t change the rules, I think it is a good thing that you don’t let one driver or one person change the rules, but the way it is currently set up is probably not the best either.”

We can all argue the facts and efficiency ratings and road relevancy but in the end, I believe he’s right. F1’s serious issues started when they moved to these new engines. That’s the reality.

As F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said (also in this Sky story):

“This [V6] engine is good, I’m told, for the car manufacturers – although nobody can ever use that engine,” the F1 supremo told Sky Sports F1.

“But if it is and they want to use it to experiment they should use it in the World Touring Car Championship.

“It’s very difficult for Mercedes, and Ferrari for that matter I suppose, to agree to change a power unit that they’ve spent a fortune developing.”

I agree with him, it’s an awesome piece of kit and engineering, there is no doubt. How relevant it is? I’m not quite sure and would it not be best placed in WEC? The entire ideology is conserve, store and trickle at a level unheard of and that’s terrific but F1 is about release/use, create and deploy and do so in a limited amount of time. A sprint race meant to be ran…well, like a sprint race.

Mark Webber recently said that WEC is flat out, pushing the entire way and in some ways, F1 is not about that. Much of that is down to the way the new engine works but we’ve covered this ground before. Fact is, Vettel is saying what many in F1 aren’t willing to say…just like Lewis is and I appreciate their candor.

Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1

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And F1 is about Tech, and these engines are the most innovative and technical thing F1 has done since the early 90s. Yeah they’re too expensive… that’s because the manufacturers are trying to break even or profiteer from their customers. They should be heavily subsidizing them, F1 is a REALLY cheap way for them to perform R&D on technology which IS being transferred to road cars. F1’s biggest problems have sod all to do with the engine, and everything to do with the aero and to a degree chassis regs and governance. They had a real chance to revolutionize the… Read more »


Well as Bernie said recently – and I for one completely concur – F1 has been taken over by the engineers. It wasn’t really a compliment.

There are a great many and almost limitless number of changes that could be made to F1 in service to advanced tech and advanced engineering.

That does not mean that they should be.


You can go back to pre-war grand prix racing and find engineering excellence at the core of most winning cars. Nothing new. Bernie should know this as he was there!


Hmmmm. I don’t think Pescara teams were developing racecars in service to world peace or conquering illiteracy. Which is the hypocritical farce that’s now driving F1 engineering (its technical direction anyway). Don’t believe it? Ask the FIA what is F1’s current and primary purpose.


Everyone knows this hybrid will be the downfall of F1. It’s crap but the the FIA, Toto & Todt are too thick to realise it. What we have now is not F1, it should be flat out with a fantastic sound that you can hear approaching the circuit, when your hart starts racing and your child is pulling on your hand to get in quickly. Now it’s like an air show with only gliders. For god sake wake up and let’s get back to aspirated engines and good racing, remember 2012.


I think what will be the downfall of F1, if any new invention can accomplish that, will be the halo. Gawd what a stupid looking thing.


The normally aspirated V8’s were less expensive not because they were normally aspirated, but because development was banned under the regulations. This was possible as there was near parity between the power outputs of the different manufacturers engines. The hybrid power units could also be less expensive if development was banned, however as there is currently a disparity in performance between the manufacturers that is not likely to be agreed until Renault and Honda have caught up with Ferrari and Mercedes. Rules introduced to limit development (and cost) the token system, and the black boxes preventing any further development in… Read more »


If you all think that with the V8s it was flat out, you are wrong. In F1 efficiency is all, and if you could win a race with less fuel without impact too much your lap times, you do it. We have seen this in past decade, nothing to do with PUs or fuel flow limit.

Negative Camber

That hasn’t been my experience speaking with engineers in the paddock. The V8’s, as MIE says above, we at the end of a development cycle and the rules were balanced and frozen and the teams ran the hell out of them and they were relatively bullet-proof. It was all about the aero at that point. Not saying it’s right or wrong.


I believe Vettel has been saying this since early in the 2014 season, in fact several drivers have mentioned it from the outset. Circuit promoters threatened to sue. Horner criticized it. A sampling: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/113107 http://www.businessinsider.com/f1-threatened-with-lawsuit-over-noise-2014-3 http://cars.aol.co.uk/2014/06/02/david-coulthard-f1-drivers-not-happy/ Interesting engineering, no doubt. Suitable for F1? No way. In any case, Formula H(ybrid) is the elephant in the living room, and everyone knows it. No one should pretend that they’re innocent. These engines are a disaster for F1, and phenomenally hypocritical to boot. Promoters of this farce should think about the super-yachts at Tabac and Yas Marina, and then make a convincing point… Read more »

charlie white

So Vettel said it, Hamilton has said and even Bernie agrees, so what do we do? Turn back the calendar 16 years? That’s not happening. Actually accept true “road relevance” and everyone builds 1.5/2.0 liter turbo 4-bangers? Maybe but Ferrari would use that veto hammer. We’re stuck with the present specs until someone or organization offers up a compromise in which everyone begrudgingly accepts as standard.

Negative Camber

I’ve read that argument many times and I guess I would ask, does F1 need to have a 4 or 6 cylinder engine? If you develop tech on a V8, the 4-cylinder is the same tech, just half the cylinders. That’s not hard for engineers to understand. You could do a V8 ICE and develop the tech and then halve it for a road car. Not complicated for the geniuses at Merc. BTW, a Ferrari engine developer told me that, I’m not just making that up. :)


“Turn back the calendar 16 years?”

Three would work.


Last season in response to JohnPierre Rivera’s fine piece on what was needed in F1 I suggested the premiere teams be forced or encouraged to sell last year’s junk to a lower team. It would subsidize the development costs of the big team by bringing in cash once the tech was, for a top team, obsolete and it would allow a small team to be mid-field competitive without 600 staff and a wind tunnel. I think Haas and Ferrari have proven me right and I would suggest following their model is a much better way to improve F1 than taking… Read more »