Mercedes, engines and alliances…engine parity still an issue

I was reading Christian Sylt and Caroline Reid’s article over at the Independent today about Mercedes having to halt the future development of their engine program via the High Performance Engines division (HPE). Sylt and Reid quote Thomas Fuhr, HPE’s managing director as suggesting the program was put on hold as the FIA has not released any new regulation information about the engine program of the future.

Fair enough, I think Mr. Fuhr is sharing something we all know…the FIA doesn’t move very swiftly on these issues and as Sylt/Reid point out, part of that has been blamed on the process as described by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone:

“You can’t have competitors writing the rules,” he said. Adding: “We maybe need an independent body, independent from the teams and the FIA, writing the regulations.”

That notion was suggested earlier this year by Ecclestone and we all wondered just who they would have writing the regulations if it weren’t the FIA as they are the regulatory body of F1. Mercedes can’t be alone in their lack of new engine development. The regulations are set to be changed in 2013 and many have suggested a return to the turbo charged 4-cylinder might be up for discussion.

The most pressing issue, for me, is not that the teams are waiting on the FIA to proffer the new engine regulations but what will they do with the current engines they have based upon Renault and Red Bull’s continual allegation that their lumps are under powered and the series needs engine parity? I don’t meant o marginalize the need for the 2013 direction so teams can budget and start development but some teams are currently ham-stringed by what appears to be a lack of shove.

There was also an interesting tidbit that this article didn’t mention and perhaps they discussed it a few weeks ago and I just missed it. In the Q2 results from Daimler, they announced a joint equity deal with the Renault-Nissan alliance in which they have a 3.1% equity position in both companies. This was supposed to be for future projects and best practice efforts in development.

Renault are the very team complaining about a lack of power and the need for a lift of the moratorium on engine development to get their motor up to par with Mercedes and Ferrari. As an equity position only, I doubt they inner workings of Renault’s F1 program are on the table for Mercedes to see but it does present an interesting situation. Daimler used shares and $90M in cash to gain the relationship. We will see what they get for their 90 large.

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