No new manufacturers in 2021? Why change anything?

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A couple of weeks ago, I read an article that suggested Formula 1 will not be seeing any new manufacturers in 2021. Regardless of Porsche, Aston Martin and Cosworth all being involved in the new engine regulation discussions, it seems that none of them are keen to enter the series in 2021.

It was reported that those regulations would see the back of the MGU-H and a reduction in complexity and cost of the hybrid engine solution. Apart from sound and cost, the MGU-H was seen as not a very road-relevant element in the engine design.

The article I read said that the regulations were now being revisited to include the MGU-H as there were no new teams interested in joining the series so why change things? Today I read an article at Autosport that quotes FIA president Jean Todt as being focused on keeping Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Honda happy:

“My priority is to make sure that we keep them four,” Todt said.

“I always said it would be very unfair to the four engaged to say, ‘OK, we want to attract a new one so let’s change everything’.

“But what about them? What about all the investment they have been doing for years and we say, we change completely the regulations because we may have one or two coming?

“That is one of the reasons why it was not a revolution on the engine regulations.

“Now if we can secure those four for me that would be a great achievement.”

Todt goes on to say that he was doubtful the series would get more than four manufacturers given that the regulations are so different to other series.

“I was always pessimistic to the fact that with specific rules for F1, we could have more than four manufacturers,” he said.

“I feel personally it is really a great achievement to have four different powertrains for 10 teams – because it means 2.5 each.”

Perhaps I am not understanding the statement but I think herein lies the issue in that the current regulations are different to anything else and overly complex and costly. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that if Porsche, Aston and Cosworth were all at the table during initial engine regulation change discussions and are still not willing to join after hearing the proposed changes for 2021, then I would say those changes were not enough.

Color me reactionary but having four manufacturers involved with the FIA leading the sustainability message is one thing but is that what’s best for the longevity of the sport? If the initial suggested changes were not enough to lure Porsche or Cosworth in, then I understand Jean’s dilemma in that keeping the four he has in hand committed and happy is critical. So why change the regulations at all if these four are massively invested in the technology and happy with it?

Then there is the other side of that coin, what do the fans think of the current engines and quality of racing they produce? You have to have engine makers and you have to have fans. If a majority of fans wanted a normally aspirated engine such as a new V8 evolution, that may be more cost effective, sound better and faster but would you lose current manufacturers and would you also gain them? Would Aston, Cosworth or Porsche commit? It is a big risk.

The existence of only four manufacturers may make Todt happy because each has 2.5 teams to supply but it also breeds another issue of satellite teams such as Mercedes, Force India and Williams or Ferrari, Haas and Sauber. There is already concern over these junior team scenarios, listed-parts programs and shared engineering allegations.

A nagging question is, if the 2021 originally proposed engine changes weren’t enough to lure in new manufacturers, that may suggest that F1 is not a compelling opportunity due to its current form. Four manufacturers or not, perhaps the changes weren’t significant enough and not inclusive enough to include lower aerodynamic downforce and other elements to improve overall racing. Perhaps possible new manufacturers didn’t feel the series was in rude health and were not willing to join.

If that is the case, then simply making few changes to continue on the path they have been on in order to keep the four manufacturers they have is just kicking the can down the road and avoiding the hard decisions that could make the series a very compelling prospect.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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subcritical71PMRMichael HNegative Camber Recent comment authors

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Member

…and when a manufacturer supplies 2 or 3 or even 4 teams and they decide to leave with a seasons notice, how are complex engine regulations then going to work to find a quick replacement , or bring in a raft of knee jerk rules to try and insert a manufacturer in with “equal” status.
For me this is simply saying to the existing manufacturers you have all the power to stop anything happening because if you leave we’ll be in real trouble.

Member

Aren’t we already in that position?
I believe there are requirements for the p.u manufacturers to supply additional teams if other manufacturers pull out, I’d expect new regulations would contain similar requirements.

subcritical71
Member
subcritical71

I don’t buy the comment from Todt, “But what about them? What about all the investment they have been doing for years and we say, we change completely the regulations because we may have one or two coming?“.

Is he trying to say that knowing the rules were slated to change in 2021 that the manufacturers would not have spent the money anyway… because they knew and they did!

PMR
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PMR

Well, cost is one of the trump cards they use to silence the critics. And it seems to be working yet again. This annoys me to no end, first the current manufacturers keep stalling until the point they can say time is to short to change it. therefore other manufacturers wont commit because the don’t wanne make these engines. And now they turn it around and say ‘other manufacturers aren’t commiting so why would we change the formula’. FIA should kick Jean toad out and then they and Liberty should take a harder ‘take it or leave it’ stance. As… Read more »

Michael H
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Michael H

IMO, the number of engine manufacturers is not the problem…at all Why? IndyCar has TWO engine manufactures and the racing product is hands down, light years ahead of Formula 1. Everyone has their strong opinion on what needs to be done to make the product better or even if it needs to be changed. If you are happy with the status quo, I envy you. Wish I could get there, but I can’t. Would love to see IndyCar drop the 5 ovals (ok, 4, I suppose you need to keep Indy) and travel overseas. I could see IndyCar doing well… Read more »

Member

I don’t watch Indycar, so can’t judge if the racing is better, but if FOM and LM wanted to adopt a series with spec engines chassis and aero, for closer racing, it already has Formula 2. They could adopt that spec as F1.

Member

An interesting aspect of Todt’s comments is that the power unit being specific to F1 makes entering F1 less attractive to manufacturers. I wonder how far discussions got with WEC (and other series) about adopting the F1 p.u spec? And was the Global Racing Engine (GRE) concept one of the options that was considered? (as i understand it the GRE concept was basically, a specification for a set of p.u elements that can be used in different combinations in different racing series, all the way from WRC, through Touring Cars and WEC to F1, all with the aim of involving… Read more »

Member

We must be getting close to the time when L.M are going to be laying out the draft 2021 regulations that they have been negotiating with the Teams, FIA etc.
This announcement, and the story about a $200 million cost cap, are probably just an initial scene setters to ‘manage expectations’ about what we might get.
So buckle up Todd (and the majority of fans), a shift back to V8’s isn’t looking likely.

Member

https://www.motorsportleadersbusinessforum.com
Here you go Todd, if the Patrion funds are looking healthy maybe you could get along to The Motorsport Leaders Business Forum in London at the end of the month (26th September)
Its objective is, ‘to bring together the most influential leaders from across motor sport for a day of knowledge-sharing, networking and high-level talks delving deep into some of the most pressing issues in racing and examine how the changing media and technology landscapes will affect “The future of Motorsport”.
A chance to share your views, and some of the TPF faithful, with the most influential leaders in motorsport.