Todt to the rescue…cheap engines for everyone

A key issue regarding the financial strain on Formula 1 is the engine supply costs. Spending $32m on an engine supply is radically more expensive than in the past and the new technology has not only bankrupted teams but it has impacted the viability of existing small teams as well. FIA president, Jean Todt, said:

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“I do agree that it’s too expensive.

“Here, I take the responsibility of probably not having secured a maximum cost to the customers.

“It’s something we are going to address; it’s better late than never.”

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As AUTOSPORT points out very accurately, the engine supply contracts are most likely long-term deals and already signed so it may be difficult to impact those but Todt feels they can:

 

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“We are going to discuss it,” he said when asked how the costs would be addressed.

“I am a realist, so I want to make sure that what we do can be done.

“I need good advisors so that we can go through with the challenge.”

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Can the FIA tackle engine supply costs? WE advocated that a fixed price back in 2013 may have alleviated the small-team challenges but it is difficult to say that the manufacturers would have agreed to that back then and the go-forward momentum and excitement of the new engine regulations may have overshadowed that key battle.

It’s an effort to help small team but Todt isn’t to happy about being in a position to try and help as he reckons these teams signed contracts with F1 and suppliers and it is their responsibility to make good choices:

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“If people expect the FIA to change the distribution of the commercial rights, then it’s true that I give up,” said Todt.

“It would be completely irrelevant for me to say ‘I’m going to speak to them’ because those are the rules.

“How should I allow myself to claim something that is not within our responsibility?

“Where I feel frustrated is [those] who are complaining who did not take the best deal – why did they accept?”

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It is a bit out of the norm for Todt to be so vocal lately and one has to wonder if the massive pressure to fix F1 from Red Bull to Mark Webber to current drivers and even Bernie Ecclestone himself. Todt is pushing back and the finger-pointing has begun.

Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT

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xorpheous

Sorry, Todt, but there is no magic engine faerie that’s going to save your bacon here. The FIA chose this ridiculously complicated power system, and now is facing the consequences of those poor decisions.

JustCoz

*facepalm* So the manufacturers have these extremely complicated power units that are extremely expensive to develop…and you’re going to cap the amount of money they can charge for them, so they won’t be able to recoup the cost of making them, let alone further development if they should happen to, you know, get it wrong. That sounds like a surefire way to bring more manufacturers into the sport.

Henk

Any new engine would have cost an enormous amount of money. The only thing faster than a F1 car is the rate at which teams are able to burn money. If there is a new technology to exploit teams will throw money at it until they have the best solution. The manufacturers aren’t building these engines to sell them but to make their team win. Selling the engines is only a way to make windfall profits. The price of the engines is based on how much the teams can ask and not on how much they cost to make. This… Read more »

MIE

Andy and I discussed something similar on Opposite Lock 95, but I think the FIA need to contract with one of the specialist racing engine builders (Cosworth, Ilmor, Hart etc) to produce a competitive affordable power unit. To make it affordable this may be something other than a turbo charged 1.6 V6. The key to attracting new constructors to the sport is the availability of cheap competitive power units.

SodaCookie

Interesting idea, but we already have Honda and Renault struggling to build a competitive power unit at what’s probably a higher price point. It seems a low-cost supplier would have to be heavily subsidized.

MIE

either subsidised or building to different rules (say a 1.6 turbocharged engine but with no hybrid energy recovery and no fuel flow limit to try and equalise the power output). I’m sure there are cheaper ways to produce the same sort of power that the current units produce (900 – 950 bhp). The extra fuel required would serve as a penalty for the teams that used this engine. It would give teams a lower cost way to become competitive so that they could develop the chassis to a point where it would be worthwhile spending the extra to get a… Read more »

JustCoz

There aren’t too many places left to have produce a cheap F1 engine. I’m not sure the exact details of the relationship (who owns who or just contracts who), but I’m about 95% sure Ilmor produces the Mercedes F1 engine. Hart Racing Engines collapsed years ago, it was bought out by Tom Walkinshaw Racing, which then went bankrupt. Cosworth said they had a 2014 engine design ready for manufacture, and there was also talk of a 2015 return, but I don’t think any of the teams ever approached them about it (maybe RBR should!). There was also PURE, working out… Read more »

misc1

Ilmor and Mercedes have been separate companies for many years now. Ilmor produces the Chevrolet engine used in IRL (twin turbo V6). Which is also an engine dominated formula if you look at the standings……

geeyore

Can the FIA not think through to the second or third degree of consequence of its preposterous decisions?

They were aware of this problem years ago (see pages 14 and 15):

http://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/publication/file/FIA%20F1%20Power%20Unit%20leaflet.pdf

They also knew that the sonics of MGU-H would be awful, and then dismiss the obvious problem (page 18).

Very interesting gamble FIA; you knew the odds were against you, and you placed your bet despite the known probability of losing.

The Captain

So the teams have long term contracts with each other over engines and Todt is fine with having the FIA intervene to help out with the money issues there. But when it comes to the teams long term contracts with Bernie it’s all ‘hell no it’s your own damn fault you got into this’. Hmmmm doesn’t really make the FIA seem like an impartial party now does it?

Bacon Wrapped Sushi

Maybe we need to come to the table and agree on certain components that need to be standardized to help reduce costs? Perhpas the MGU-H or MGU-K for a few years, then allow the manufacturers to modify them after the costs start to come more in line. I hate to say it, but Formula E is sort of doing it right. At the moment, it is a spec series, but eventually, the modifications will open up. Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT want F1 as a spec series, but WEC seems to be the way to go for the… Read more »

Tom Firth

Wouldn’t it just mean the current engine manufacturers would limit development of the powerplant upgrade options further to save money? cutting certain upgrades, so those savings could then at least in part be passed onto the customers? (If the FIA could break the current contracts betweens teams/suppliers, that is)

Surely Honda and Renault, Mclaren and Red Bull wouldn’t agree to that, as it would harm chances of them catching even further? Agree with Todd, the FIA should of done this in 2013.

Tom Firth

I can’t imagine any other way in which the money could be saved to the customers, if the only option the FIA has is in re-negotiation of the current deals, which appears to be the case for the next couple of seasons at least. The engine manufacturers are certainly not going to say “Sure lets reduce our profit margins” Assuming profit is being made.

troy

One has to understand that for the worlds premier auto racing series..attracting manufacture involvement always meant approaching the hybrid formula…..this was always going to be the case…that’s what separates F1 from other series and those that offer only customer engines I think F1 did the right thing if only on the basis of principle…….the only decision now is to decide there are enough manufactures and will this formula take off…..its still early days Or should F1 take on a different formula with less relevance(or none)to what a manufacture would like to be seen producing there are a lot of fans… Read more »