V10 vs. V8 engine issue to go to arbitration

According to this week's Autosport Magazine (key excerpts), Three of Formula 1’s most powerful engine manufacturers are about to begin legal action against the sport’s governing body, the FIA, over its plans to impose new engine regulations for 2006. BMW, Honda and Mercedes-Benz will take the FIA to arbitration over its insistence that F1 engines will have to be built to a 2.4-litre V8 format after next season.

Furthermore, Honda and BMW have not ruled out the possibility of quitting F1 if the regulation is brought in against their wishes, on safety grounds, as FIA president Max Mosley insists is possible. Their action may also be supported by Ford and Toyota. Ferrari and Renault, however, are in favor of the smaller units.

Mosley wants F1’s manufacturers to adopt 2.4-litre V8s for ’06 as a means of reducing speeds, improving safety and cutting costs. The introduction of the measure is due to be voted on later this month by the FIA’s World Motorsport Council. The WMC is not expected to oppose the change.

Mosley admitted that the Concorde Agreement, the document by which F1 is governed, obliges the FIA to prioritize aerodynamic changes when making technical amendments to the rulebook, but stressed that the Agreement’s Article 7.5, which addresses safety-related technical change, was a “trump card" in the engine dispute.

Mosley said: “When we have been repeatedly advised by F1’s Technical Working Group that speeds are too high, we have to act. Speed is a function of power, and the most effective way of cutting engine power is to cut engine capacity."

But Otmar Szafnauer, vice-president of Honda Racing Development, said: “Honda joined F1 on the basis that we would have 3.0-litre V10s until the end of ’07, as outlined in the Concorde Agreement. That position is now not being honored. These are big decisions that we have got to get right, and we have to fight for them now. This could split the sport. The first thing you do is fight as hard as you can, and in every way you can, before you withdraw," he said.

Proposals from manufacturers presented to the FIA last August urged the governing body to keep the 3.0-litre format, but with a rev limit of 18,000rpm, and with exotic materials, such as metal matrix composites (MMCs), banned and variable intake trumpets outlawed. The manufacturers believe the package would reduce power by around 15 percent (between 120-150bhp), while achieving Mosley’s aim of cutting costs and speeds.

BAR team principal David Richards, who fully supports Honda’s position, described the 2.4-litre rule as “random and ludicrous." Williams’ Patrick Head added: “We are supporting BMW’s position. The Concorde Agreement is quite clear in stating that 3.0-litre V10s will be kept until the end of’07, when the Agreement expires." Autosport understands Ferrari is already well advanced with a development program for a 2.4-litre V8 engine.

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