FIA Is Looking For An Independent Formula 1 Engine Supplier
Formula One could be on the verge of another dramatic technical change that would introduce an independent and cost-effective engine that could be used beginning in 2017. F1 head honcho Bernie Ecclestone told reporters at the United States Grand Prix about the possibility of such a move, adding that the FIA is already scheduled to announce a press release this week, detailing the potential shift in engine options for Formula One teams.
The cost of the current V-6 engines has long been a touchy subject in the F1 paddock and Ecclestone counts himself in the camp of those who believe that the cost of the V-6s run too high at about £15 million to £20 million per season. That’s more than double the £7 million it cost teams to buy those old V-8 engines.
Ecclestone didn’t dive into the details pertaining to the repercussions of introducing new engines, although he did say that it’s not going to be received well by the four current engine suppliers, comprised of Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, and Honda. But the expected hurt feelings won’t be as important as the prospect of losing teams if the current engine costs continue to be where they are.
The F1 head honcho also said that “a couple of interested parties” are already sending out feelers on the possibility of building this new engine. Ecclestone mentioned Cosworth as being one of them, but he declined to add anything pertaining to what the British engine manufacturer would be able to build.
For what it’s worth, the plan isn’t set in stone yet. There’s going to be a lot of discussion between the FIA, the Formula One teams, and the current engine suppliers. Don’t expect smooth talks too because, well, this is Formula One we’re talking about. A lot of people will have something to say about it, and knowing how the sport works, these forthcoming discussions will be heated, to say the least.
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Why it matters
I’ve always wondered why Formula One didn’t just stick to one engine for all the teams. It would make sense from a competitive standpoint since every team will be working with the same engine. That would at least cut down the possibility of one team dominating an entire season like we’ve been seeing for the past six years.
On the flip side, F1 is still a business, and a pretty lucrative one at that. With the current rules, lesser teams are going to be forced to outsource their engines because they don’t have the capacity to build their own.
That’s why the proposal to field an independent engine supplier makes a lot of sense for teams who currently buy their engines from their existing suppliers. Not only will teams be able to save money, but they could also field competitive cars that can give the established teams a run for their money. Ok, maybe that’s going a little bit too far because the Mercedes and Ferraris of the world will always have the technical advantage through sheer resources alone.
But when you combine the costs and the competitive disadvantage of the current engine setup, I think that there’s some sense to the idea of having an independent engine supplier in Formula One. It’s obviously going to take a lot of hand-wringing to come to an agreement on the issue, but if the right people speak up and all sides are open to the idea, then I really do see some potential here to finally make Formula One as competitive as it once was.
As a fan of the sport, that’s really all I want, as I’m sure other fans of Formula One feel the same way as I do.