In our latest podcast, episode 702, we discussed Honda’s shock announcement that they are leaving Formula 1. This leaves Red Bull in a tenuous position and many have wondered whether they would return to Renault as an engine supplier given their history with the French manufacturer.
I shared my opinion in that podcast that Renault could use Red Bull as much as Red Bull could use Renault right now but there are egos involved. Now, Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul has used the Honda situation to put pressure on F1 to accelerate their new engine formula.
“I want to be very clear that we take no satisfaction in the Honda situation,” Abiteboul told Autosport.
“We need to call it the way it is, it’s not a positive development for F1. We want an F1 with car makers, with OEMs, with engine suppliers, and being down to three engine manufacturers is not a positive development.
“We need to draw some clear conclusions from this situation, and it’s something I’ve been urging the governing body to look at more carefully.
“The engine situation is simply unsustainable. In particular from an economic perspective, but also from a technology perspective.
“I am not sure we can afford this perception.
“Either we’re capable of changing this perception of the current engine architecture, or probably we need to fast track the adoption of a new architecture, so that we get in a better place in terms of perception again.
“I would expect that this development triggers some harder thinking about the scheduling of the next generation of power trains.”
As Adam Cooper points out in the piece, Abiteboul concedes that the current formula isn’t attracting new manufacturers. But let’s discuss that for a moment.
“It’s just more evidence that we have failed in putting together the right messaging and the right marketing of these engine regulations, which are mind blowing – there is nothing more advanced in the world in terms of automotive powertrain.
“There is nothing that even gets close to this efficiency level for light vehicles, so that’s remarkable.
“But it’s just as remarkable to have failed so badly in explaining to the world and getting the world to understand what this is all about, and the windfalls that could impact more mainstream technology.
“It’s just the basics of marketing, we need to get the world to know what we’re doing, not simply do it and complain about it.
“Every now and then when drivers are talking about the engines, it’s to complain, and it’s very unfortunate that we have very little opportunity to talk about how amazing the engines are.
“Maybe we need to ask ourselves if we need to have that level of technology in the engines if technology is only deemed to be detrimental to the competitiveness of a team and of a car.”
For six years I have read both F1 manufacturers, the FIA and F1 themselves saying that the real issue with the current hybrid power unit isn’t so much the cost, lack of sound, clear dominance by one team or more exciting racing. No, those compounded issues are a lot to absorb.
The real issue, according to them in the above quote from Abiteboul, is that they haven’t done a good enough job of marketing the power unit and explaining how good it is. Really?
After six years the series, the teams and the regulatory body couldn’t figure out how to market one of the most efficient engines in the world? Apologies but I am finding that hard to believe.
I appreciate the need to fence the herculean effort and amazing innovation into an area of respect for what manufacturers and engineers have achieved and I am all for that adulation but it has come at a cost…a very high cost with very real consequences.
What Cyril is very candid about is the need to move forward and do it sooner than later. The new engine regulations are set to be ushered into he sport in 2026 but that isn’t soon enough. Do you think they should bring the engine regulation change forward?
The reason he’s saying that is because he’s hearing from his bosses at Renault that F1 isn’t working for them. I would expect Renault to be gone entirely sooner rather than later unless something major changes which, given the FIA’s complete lack of new ideas, is unlikely.
Cyril, the reason the hybrids haven’t been “sold” to the public is because socially responsible fuel efficiency is BORING. I don’t know why the sport can’t face this, it will never be sexy to be “green”. Nobody, not a single soul, turns on a race to watch drivers and teams fighting climate change! We watch F1 to escape that crap.
I will admit, that to a lay person, using an ICE with KERS, MGUK, and all the other bibbles and bobbles appears as a glorified Goldberg machine to make the car go.