Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that by 2021, engine supply contracts will be a lot cheaper and that’s great news if you are Force India, McLaren, Red Bull, Williams, Sauber and Toro Rosso.
“The engine development costs big money, and the engine departments of all the current suppliers are loss-making entities which shouldn’t be the case, so we’re trying to contain that,” Wolff told Autosport.
“On the other side we have found an agreement with the FIA to reduce the prices to all engine customers over the next years to levels that are the lowest ever in F1.
“If you get this kind of engine at prices like $12-14m, which is what we’re trying to achieve, I have no understanding for somebody that claims the engines are too expensive.”
While Wolff argues that the engine supply contracts are relatively small to a team’s budget, there is a fact that while the $12-14M is more sustainable, the $20-30M was not and even if that was 10-15% of a team’s budget, it removes resources from areas the team need the cash to make a competitive chassis.
“It’s 5% of the big teams’ overall costs, and for the smaller teams it’s between 8-10%,” he said.
“Is that acceptable for a sport that’s called motor sport?
“The very opportunistic and one-sided argument of certain teams to push the engine prices further down, and on the other side to spend £200m plus on chassis development, isn’t correct.”
The issue at hand may be that Mercedes can afford to create a very expensive engine AND spend $200M on a chassis where Williams may not be able to. Therefore, reducing the engine cost is important given the restraints on aero and chassis open innovation. It’s an ecosystem and while Wolff is right that you spend the most where you can get the biggest gains, if F1 technical boss, Ross Brawn, is right, then it won’t be simply a power series and some reliance may come back to chassis and ground effect. That’s rumors, mind you.
Still, if I were a team boss, I would want a much less expensive engine in order to focus on the fine details. An example might be that Williams and Force India have the same engine as Mercedes but their chassis is not able to compete with Merc. If they had a cheaper engine, perhaps they would?
Hat Tip: Autosport