Would 2 engines per season reduce F1 costs?

I was reading comments from former FIA president, Max Mosley, regarding the way forward and I found it interesting in that he feels reducing costs in F1 would be easy if we reduced the amount of engines available per driver per year:

“The current problem revolves round engine costs and supply,” he explained. “The solution would be rules allowing only two engines per car per season.

“This would simultaneously double supply and halve costs. Today’s engines would require only a modest adjustment to achieve that.”

Now, as he points out, this wouldn’t go over very well with the manufacturers and they would give all matter of disaster scenarios but he’s also right in that many of those “sky is falling” projections have never come to fruition in the past.

“The engine suppliers would immediately say it was impossible and would be a disaster,” said Mosley.

“But in the history of F1 there has never once been a case where such predictions have proved accurate.”

While that may be correct regarding their “disaster” comments, is Mosley correct in his assertions that reducing the engine supply would reduce costs?

Now that the format is specified and the R&D has been spent, perhaps it would in the short term for teams who are buying engines from Mercedes, Ferrari, Honda and Renault on a per unit basis.

Let’s say, for a moment, that a new engine spec was created for 2017 onward. A brand new specification with a twin turbo V8 with KERS for example. If they were only allowed two engines for the whole season, wouldn’t all of the R&D and simply be built into the engine cost?

I can buy a Go phone or burner but if I want something top-shel that will last, I pay a lot more for an iPhone right? If the current supply contracts for four engines is $20 million, surely that carries and amortizes the R&D costs into the price. If it were only two engines, would the supply contract be less than $20 million?

It seems to me that making an engine so reliable as to only need two for the entire season would be some very expensive kit and engineering and would cost a lot to develop thus meaning it would cost a lot to acquire for your Sauber or Force India chassis.

I see Max’s point as we stand today with the format already decided upon but I’m not quite sure manufacturers would charge less for even more durable engines. Maybe they would, maybe I’m missing a simple economic factor that Max is clearly more steeped in than I. Let’s face it, Max understands the series better than I do (he’s a sharp cookie) but in the end, I’m not sure if mandating a 2-engine regulation will reduce Sauber’s cost for an engine supply but I could be very wrong.

Hat Tip: Motorsport

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Paul KieferJr

Let’s go with a really simple example: Light bulbs. In the early days, bulbs were cheap to make. all you needed was a wire and glass. All you had to pay was probably no more than a dollar, which would get you two bulbs in a pack. Now? The US Government mandates CFL bulbs. They’re expensive to make, and it would cost you $5 for a pack. That’s the downside. The upside? They could last up to 15 times the life of a standard bulb. Is it worth the increase in price to go 1 3/4 years per bulb? What… Read more »


Given that these CFL bulbs nor the LED ones ever reach their listed life time (due to power peaks and frequent switching) so far I have found its certainly not completely clear cut!

Daniel Shenise

I’m five and a half years into the set of CFL’s I bought. I haven’t had to replace one yet.


yeah, I think at our place it has a lot to do with power peaks and lows in the grid. And off course how you treat them yourselves – frequent switching quickly lowers their lifetime.


Wow. I’ve spent more money trying to get proper ones for the lighting I want and replacing burned out ones than 10 years of tungsten bulbs ever cost. Same applies to F1. In fact, it already does. This extremely costly engine regulation has had a 3 year shelf life and now they’re onto something else in 2017…total bust IMHO…


Like hybrid in F1, CFL is good if that’s what you want and if that’s what you think will support your objectives, whatever those might be.

But the notion that they should be mandatory for all purposes – even where they are inappropriate and undesirable and expensive and inefficient – is simply hamhanded committee-think.

Sort of like FIA rulemaking.

Fred Talmadge

CFL or LED are not mandatory, at least here in the USA. The rule is that certain lightbulbs are to meet a efficiency standard.

Paul KieferJr

Hello. Austin here. It’s mandatory. There’s not a store in sight that will sell you a regular bulb.

Fred Talmadge

I have no problem finding them at my local grocery store, Brookshire Bros. Amazon has thousands of them.

Are Buntz

A significant factor in this plan is what the penalty is for going over two. Using the rules that evolved last year everyone would run seven races on the first two engines then in the eigth race everyone would install and remove eight engines over the weekend, all would take the grid penalty for that race, since they are all taking the same grid penalty the qualifying position would stay the same, and then have eight engines for the remaining 14 or so races.


See how extremely simple it is to find loopholes in FIA and Mosley logic?


Mosley may very well be a sharp cookie but like Bernie, he’s made few decisions with the F1 fan in mind. Does today’s F1 fan want to see more grid penalties for rules violations? Two engines? McLaren last year made a mockery out of rules violations and I can’t imagine what a year would look like with even more restrictions. Instead of his continued rant about costs reductions, maybe he will have an epiphany and give more thought to making the show better, more fan friendly, and have beautiful cars that go like a bat out of hell; then they… Read more »

Fred Talmadge

If engine costs and availability is the issue, simple, small block Chevy’s. Any thing else you need fixing Mr E?

Meine Postma

Erm? A good performing engine?


Sweet monkey ninjas this is a dumb idea!!!!

Clearly Max paid no attention to how well engine restrictions have worked this year… If the threat of 300 grid place penalties or whatever they were didn’t stop anybody from using what was it 12 engines for McLaren? How is cutting that number further going to help?

I know, no grid penalties and no fines if you go over the limit, you just can’t race. And the fans (and sponsors) will love watching a grid of 4 cars because everybody else used up their engine allocation…


Daniel Johnson

R&D money is already budgeted and spent, it’s not really about the actual materials for a motor (that’s relatively cheap). You’re just making the R&D more profoundly expensive which will be passed on to the customers. The only real way is to cap the engine supply contracts.

Side note, can’t we just have grid penalties that if you are penalized farther than last place you just start from pit road?


Someone needs to swat Max with a riding crop. Oh, wait… A) As others have said, I don’t see how this actually reduces the cost of anything, except _maybe_ for the teams buying an engine supply, but then they’re going to get an inferior product anyway, so what’s the point? B) More grid penalties. Grid penalties suck, and honestly should be reserved for driver misbehavior. Take constructors’ points away. And by the way, you can mess with the constructors’ points all you want. Nobody cares about historical comparison. Give points for finishing, laps completed, whatever. Whether the totals are in… Read more »


Back of the envelope est.
4 engines @ EUR 20 MM each = EUR 80 MM per season as a cost to customer
2 engines @ EUR 30 MM each = EUR 60 MM per season

Conclusion: yeah, cheaper for a customer, whilst more challenging for the engine mfg.

We will have to wait another 5 days to learn full story, but saving is not directed to all, only engine customers. (At least as I have understood what’s in the pipes).


The cost of building another motor pales compared to the cost of designing and developing them. The additional engineering work, dyno mules and exotic materials would surely cost more than a couple more copies of the current designs. I’m also pretty sure that the benefit of an extra engine or two will outweigh the penalty of running an old bullet. The nature of competition is to push every rule to the limit. Anybody who has raced at the top level of any ‘spec’ series has experienced how too many restrictions always greatly increase costs, even if it’s for a negligible… Read more »


One headline: “Teams need identical engines, software, fuel – Newey”.

Occassionally I am begging to think that the old guard is in their position of power perhaps too long, and little bit of fresh air (and thinking) could do us all good.


Lets imagine just for a moment that the engine manufacturers were able to come up with engines reliable to last a half season of practice, qualifying and racing before they needed replacing. A bit far fetched, but still. And lets also imagine that these engines cost less than twice the current engines to develop, so the customers actually do save money. The manufacturers don’t, as they have extra R&D to create these engines. Anyway, what would be the outcome, assuming the engines actually were as reliable as he wants? What I can see is teams telling their drivers not to… Read more »

Giovanni Castello

For Max & Bernie, it’s really not about cost, that’s just a convenient ruse… It’s all about control – pure & simple.