FIA to launch tender for new F1 engine supplier (2nd Update)

UPDATE #2 The BBC's Andrew Benson wrote Ecclestone and FIA President Jean Todt are "pushing a plan that could kill the turbo hybrid engines introduced last year." Ecclestone and Todt are working toward a cheap customer turbo engine under an "equivalence formula" in '17. The road-car manufacturers in F1 "want to stick with the turbo hybrids and have rejected plans to introduce a cost cap on the engines for customers." The risk "is the rules would be adjusted to make their units uncompetitive." Top-level sources said that their concern "is three-fold:"

  • Only Mercedes and Ferrari "have competitive engines, reducing the number of teams competing at the front of the grid"
  • The two manufacturers' dominance "is increasing their political power in F1 at the expense of Todt and Ecclestone"
  • The cost of the engines "is proving difficult for customer teams to afford"

Todt and Ecclestone "will present the plan publicly as an attempt to provide cheap customer engines to teams" — the plan is to price the engines at $6.6M for a year's supply. This "is about a third of the price of the cheapest turbo hybrid customer deal." It "is conceivable that Ecclestone and Todt would back down if the manufacturers agreed to supply engines to teams at a more affordable price and were less restrictive in terms of who they chose to supply them to." BBC

In London, Sylt & Hewitt wrote Ecclestone will try to force F1's teams to return to using V8 engines in '16 "even though they were only dropped last year" in favor of V6 engines. Switching back to the V8s "would come at a huge cost as the sport’s manufacturers have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in developing the new engines."

The teams "would need to give consent to such a significant change as the engine regulations are fixed" until the end of '20. However, Ecclestone said, "I don’t think we should get consent from the teams. I think we should just do it and say to them, 'If you don’t like it you can go to arbitration.'

We could get the V8s back next year. People can build them in no time so we ought to do it."

Two weeks ago Silverstone Managing Dir Patrick Allen said that fans would stop coming to races because they "don’t want to see a procession" and that F1 is a "shit product" that is becoming more and more difficult to sell. The V8 engines "would level the playing field because the teams spent eight years working with them so know how to get the most out of them whereas some are still getting to grips with the cutting-edge V6."

Ecclestone said, "This engine shouldn’t have been that complicated, to be honest with you. It was only when the engineers got hold of it that it became complicated. The product is not fit for the purpose." INDEPENDENT [Editor's Note: AR1.com has been saying this for two years]

10/25/15

Ecclestone and Todt agree to a new F1 engine formula – lower cost, just as much power, better sound

This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. As Hurricane Patricia brought a different kind of whirlwind to the Austin paddock, Bernie Ecclestone on Saturday confirmed his plans to introduce a second tier of engine regulations in formula one for 2017.

"If we don't do it, we will lose some teams," the F1 chief executive warned at the torrentially-sodden Circuit of the Americas, where qualifying has been delayed until race day.

He is referring to the fact that Red Bull and Toro Rosso will be lost to the sport because Mercedes, Ferrari and now Honda have all lined up to refuse to supply them under the existing, 1.6 liter 'power unit' regime.

The latest, touted Honda solution has apparently been vetoed by Ron Dennis, chief of the Japanese carmaker's works team McLaren.

"They somehow made a commitment to Ron that he had a veto and he doesn't want Red Bull," Ecclestone revealed. "Ron has said 'Definitely not'."

But Ecclestone said his new plan, involving cheaper, louder and faster 2.2 liter V6s, perhaps based on the Indycar formula and supplied by Cosworth or Ilmor, will also save cash-strapped teams.

It will reportedly cost small teams just EUR 6 million to buy, but be fully competitive with dominant 'power unit' manufacturer Mercedes.

Ecclestone denies he is creating a two-tier system.

"We used to have turbos and normally aspirated (engines)," he insisted. "It was not two-tier, it was called 'choice'."

Ecclestone argued that he will overcome the problem that Ferrari can veto any offensive rule change, suggesting that he has the backing of FIA president Jean Todt.

"The FIA will put out a press release on Monday or Tuesday," he claimed.

Germany's Sport Bild said Ecclestone, who thinks the engine rules in their current form have caused "the biggest problems F1 has ever had", will meet with Cosworth chief Kevin Kalkhoven in the coming hours.

10/24/15 (GMM) The FIA has agreed to launch a tender process for a new parallel engine formula.

That is the claim of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, reporting that Bernie Ecclestone has managed to convince FIA president Jean Todt.

Ecclestone, backed by his old sparring partner Max Mosley, has made clear that he thinks the current 1.6 liter, V6 'power unit' rules are ruining F1 because they are expensive, Mercedes is dominating and car manufacturers are effectively running the sport politically.

So, for 2017, the FIA will open a tender for an independent supplier of 2.2 liter, twin-turbo V6 engines, which will be an affordable EUR 6 million and fully competitive with Mercedes.

It follows Ecclestone's earlier plan to simply resurrect the old screaming V8s.

"It (V8) was quite simple technology compared to what we have now, so the costs were significantly lower," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said in Austin.

"But the machinery (the power units) that we have now, they are incredible bits of equipment. I think what we need to do is rather than look backwards, look forwards as to what should the engine develop to be for the future.

"I think there are elements of what we have that are strong at the moment but I think it can be improved and I would certainly love to see the volume go back up and certainly the cost of development come down," he added.

The 'parallel engine' solution would also potentially solve Red Bull's engine supply crisis, brought on by Mercedes and Ferrari in having blankly refused to sell them a 'power unit'.

The new '2.2 liter' plan will, predictably, be opposed by the current manufacturers, but Horner hinted that the threat of a European Commission investigation could lead to a compromise.

Force India and Sauber are already complaining about 'anti-competitive' strategy groups and income distribution, so "does that mean that we could say that teams unwilling to supply engines is anti-competitive?" Horner said.

"So everything could therefore end up in the Commission."

Auto Motor und Sport said the FIA is preparing to launch the tender as early as next week, with Cosworth and Ilmor tipped to launch application bids.

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