Merc V6 hybrid dominance warding off new F1 teams

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While Formula 1 works to approve cost reduction concepts such as reduced wind tunnel time, as well as CFD, the sport is tip-toeing around the elephant in the room which is the current V6 turbo hybrid power unit specification.

This continues to be the topic on the table and while teams used to spend £15-20 million per season for the 1.6-liter turbocharged V6s, that’s considerably north of the £7m during the V8 era. but there is also the notion that Mercedes dominance in the hybrid formula spec is also preventing other manufacturers from entering F1 according to an article at the Independent. Here’s an interesting comment from the article in which F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said:

“The V6 is stopping other people that may want to be in Formula One from actually coming in because they think they have got to take on somebody who is doing a terrific job and try to beat them,” said Ecclestone. He added that the reason Mercedes was doing so well is that its former team director, Ross Brawn, helped to design the engine for F1’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).

“The problem is Mercedes actually had a big, big start on anybody else because the guy who was there at that time was Ross Brawn and he was on the FIA working group with this engine, knew all about what the engine was going to be and Mercedes started working on this new engine before anybody knew there was going to be an engine change.”

As Christian points out in the article, the FIA opened a tender for new participants in F1 but were unsuccessful in gaining new entries from interested parties.

It’s also an interesting implication in that the team are still enjoying Ross Brawn’s presence on the FIA Working group which specified the new hybrid formula.

Williams F1’s, Claire Williams, said that the F1 Strategy Group needed to find a reduction of around £15-20 million to be effective and according to AUTOSPORT, they may have found that in a reduction of wind tunnel, CFD and gearbox costs. Perhaps the sport has found a way to pay for its very expensive V6 turbo hybrid or at least offset the cost increase to continue with this format? IF so, is it still a format that Mercedes will dominate and will that put off any potential new team interest in entering F1?

Hat Tip: The Independent and AUTOSPORT

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Henk

I like to think a newcomer isn’t looking at the top spot in his first season. The cost cut allows new teams to start working on getting their chassis right without going bust.

MichaelB

Sure… it’s the dominance of one engine that is keeping teams away… There’s no possible way it could be because if a new team doesn’t crack the top 10 they’ll get absolutely no share of the money paid out by FOM… Or that every few years there’s a major revision of the rules that requires the teams to spend gobs of money to redesign and develop their cars… Or that if a team actually comes up with a trick part that gives them a fighting chance that the FIA won’t regulate it out of existence… Or that the sport’s “promoter”… Read more »

Paul KieferJr

Isn’t this one of the definitions of a monopoly: A barrier to entry? Seems this situation has achieved just that. I would think, at the very least, that the US DoJ Anti-Trust Division might be interested in looking at this (in addition to whatever exists on the EU / UK level).

Will Irwin

I don’t think it is a monopoly when there are three other suppliers in the ‘market’. Mercedes is not using market power to suppress the others, they just have a better product.

If there is to be a solution to this it needs to be in some change to the homologation/tokens rules. I don’t see the US DoJ or EU being interested.

Paul KieferJr

We worried about the same thing in the US Auto industry when it went from four to three with AMC dropping out. In order for it to be a truly free market, there must be a plethora of options. Having only 3 (or, in the case of F1 engine suppliers, 2) is not exactly a “plethora” and isn’t exactly healthy for a free market.

MichaelB

The dominance of a team in a sport doesn’t meet the definition of monopoly. F1 is a competitive environment, and the success of a team – despite what Bernie says, isn’t typically a barrier to entry. Bernie won’t admit that the true barriers to entry for new teams are the economic and business conditions that he and FOM have created around the sport. But even that’s not a monopoly under anybody’s legal definitions. Just because the conditions in the sport aren’t conducive to all comers coming in and making money doesn’t make it a monopoly. And just to further the… Read more »

David Hudson

This is what I’ve been saying all along. Mercedes wrote these rules long ago. Then Ross told Lewis, “We wrote the rules so now you should come drive for us”. So there you have it.

peter riva

Hey, a thought… want to solve the F1 crisis? Have every team get the same $ at the end of the season, divided equally. Ferrari gets advertising and sales. Same with McLaren and Mercedes… the rest? They would be in it for the racing – nothing else to sell. Maybe Toyota, Honda et al would not have left.