Well we’ve been waiting for the F1 strategy group to make a strategic decision – well any kind of decision really (granted they had consensus on banning driver helmet changes) – and here we have it. Jean Todt has thrown his lot in with Bernie Ecclestone and forced through change. Traditionally the French President in this forum has refused to back any change without consensus, so the FIA’s 6 votes have been with the naysayers, this is because Todt’s philosophy for F1 is one of change by consensus.
At a recent meeting of the strategy group, Jean Todt fulfilled his threat to force an engine cost cap on the manufacturers for 2016. Even with the customer teams behaving as instructed by their power unit supplier, this meant Bernie and Jean outvoted them by 12-6, and a simple majority is enough for regulation changes for 2017.
Ferrari of course have the ‘God given’ right to veto most things F1 if they so please, even over decisions presented to the World Motorsport Council. So as was threatened, Ferrari vetoed the 2017 cost cap which would have seen the charge made to a customer for a V6 hybrid power unit halve from the current million euro price tag.
Back in 2009, Ferrari veto’d another cost control regulation and so the matter was escalated by Max Mosley to the ‘Tribunal de Grande Instance’ in Paris. Interestingly, the tribunal whilst recognising Ferrari’s veto rights, ruled that they should have been exercised during April’s meeting of the World Motor Sport Council. In other words, Ferrari failed to follow proper protocol’s for using their veto.
Sergio Marchionne did not make the same mistake as his predecessor and deployed the Maranello block on proceedings in a timely and appropriate time. The FIA responded stating, “In the interest of the championship, the FIA has decided not to legally challenge Ferrari SpA’s use of its right of veto.”
But it appears Jean Todt and Bernie are still one step ahead of Sergio.
In response to the Ferrari veto, the FIA will now invite tenders for a ‘budget’ F1 engine to be available for all teams in 2017. Firstly the FIA will “initiate a consultation with all stakeholders regarding the possible introduction of a client engine, which will be available as of 2017. Following this consultation a call for tenders for this client engine, the cost of which would be much lower than the current power unit, could be undertaken,” said the FIA statement.
“Supported by FOM, the FIA will continue in its efforts to ensure the sustained long-term development of the championship and look for solutions enabling it to achieve this. It asks all of the teams to make a positive contribution to the success of this approach through proposals and initiatives in the interest of the Championship and its continuation over the long term.”
For those who have been following Formula One more than five years, a sense of deja vu may well be descending upon you. The previous stand off between Ferrari and the FIA, led to threats by all the manufacturers to leave the sport. The bone of contention was again cost control and Max Mosley had pushed through regulations for 2010 which would see a budget cap in place and for those adhering to this spending limit, a greater degree of freedom in the car design regulations would be offered.
Such was the seriousness of the proposed breakaway, Kimi Raikkonen who was employed by Ferrari at the time stated, “I work for Ferrari and we are one big family. It is my work and it is the place where I want to race. Whatever they do, I will do the same with them. We are one family and we do things together,”Fernando Alonso commented at the time”.
Fernando Alonso had similar feelings: “I don’t know if this will be my last time in Monaco,” he told reporters. “If the big teams and the big manufacturers leave Formula 1 then I don’t want to race with small teams, because it is not any more F1 and there are many other categories.”
The FIA and Bernie have leaked the idea that the new F1 budget engines could come from Indycar, a slap in the face for the F1 engine builders. Further, that it would be balanced to compete with the V6 Turbo Hybrids.
But Chris Berube, the programme manager for Chevrolet Racing stated at the weekend, “Just because there’s suddenly speculation that F1 may use the same engine displacement for a low-budget formula in 2017 doesn’t mean our IndyCar engines are compatible with F1’s formula, nor that General Motors will suddenly be interested.
“If we’d wanted to be in F1, we could have been there”.
Add to this, the brand Chevrolet is due to disappear from the European road car offerings in 2016.
So could Honda offer up their Indycar power unit? This would be a nonsense, particularly if these budget engines were balanced to deliver similar performance to the new V6 hybrid turbo’s.
Interestingly, Bernie has been talking up a Cosworth return over the past week or two and Cosworth co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven has now confirmed he is in talks with Formula One, though makes it clear Cosworth do not have the funds to develop this through to full implementation and supply.
So the threat of an imposed budget engine being available for 2017 by the time the regulations are finalised in March next, appears rather remote. But were Todt and Ecclestone to pull this off, the big question is will, what will the response of Ferrari and Mercedes be? Ecclestone has talked up three car teas in recent years so with Ferrari and Mercedes supplying 7-8 customers in 2016 with power units, are we about to hear talk of another manufacturer’s breakaway from Formula One?
I sincerely hope the EU investigation, which is asked for by Sauber and Force India, will become a reality, because the use of the Ferrari veto and refusing to supply RB (by Mercedes, Ferrari and Ron Dennis) is destroying F1. It seems that the manufacturers only care about themselves and not the F1 as a whole, by driving competitors out of F1 and wanting 3 car teams (as Mercedes have said).
No, RB are destroying *themselves* with their prams out over ditching renault, they will reap what they sowed, they have no entitlement to other engines.
Hold on a second, is it not the rights of Mercedes, Ferrari and Ron Dennis/Honda to decide who they want to supply engines to? What difference does the EU investigation make on their decisions?
So Red Bulls continual threats to quit the sport is their way of showing that they ‘care about F1’? Or is it more for their own selfish needs because they’re not able to get their own way?
Absolutely – the investigation has nothing to do with who sells an engine to whom, but one would hope it does touch on the Ferrari veto – if anything is anti-competitive it is that. There is no way a competitor in a sport should have that level of ABSOLUTE influence on the rules of that sport. That would be akin to Chelsea vetoing a change to the offside rule – ridiculous.
Honda promised to sell to 2 teams in year 2, 3 in year 3. That’s thier contract.
Are you in support of Honda breaking its contract?
Ron Dennis has nothing to do with the manufacture status agreement Honda signed with Bernie.
Ron wouldn’t have a Honda PU of the manufacture status was not granted. You get that right?
Standard Bernie tactics. All smoke and mirrors plus divide and conquer.
Who in their right mind would invest in this alternative engine when FIA keep suggesting they will change rules. Only way this new engine will work is if it’s off the shelf. So all development work already paid for.
It’s just Bernie trying to ensure Red Bull have an engine. Plus an independent engine manufacturer removes control from Merc & Ferrari and maybe in time Honda and Renault.
After years of complaint how red bull has broken down cost controls and ruined F1, we have Ferrari blatantly and in front of everyone vetoing (again) a cost control measure.
Yet every comment above mine here is still bashing red bull.
Yep, I’m the biased one.
That’s because most visitors automatically assume that any comment about fairness/competition is related to Red Bull and since Red Bull is in a position where they could come up with the cure for AIDS, cancer and ebola combined in one medicine and still people would shun Red Bull and criticise them. That’s what you get once the majority have put a label on your head, people won’t listen even if the wonders of the world are revealed
(P.s. This was reply to LayerCake’s comment)
The second spec engine is such a red herring. The cost of engines is not the problem, it is the division of money, “historic payments”, appearance fees or whatever they do call them. If they took away the historic payments it would be more than enough to pay for all the teams PU’s. There is easily enough money to ensure everyone has 2016 PUs in their cars. Red Bull just need to eat some crow, Renault has has a pretty solid record of producing great engines.
Even if it is not just wind passing from asses, would GM want to supply 2nd tier engines to F1 and why would Honda invest the money they have and will to chance being beaten by their own old technology? Does Cosworth want to design/build something the old wrinklies may not want in a few years, when they are fabricating F1’s next distraction.
The uneven financial playing field probably discourages sponsors as well. Why would you invest in a team that clearly, intentionally is disadvantaged (even discouraged from participating) by the rule makers and management of the sport.
I don’t see how anyone can see F1 as anything but an unfair competition.
Your first sentence….absolutely.
It’s a red herring in so far as it has to be passed by the ruling motorsports body and guess who has an absolute veto there…..?
This could be interesting, but it beats me why the FIA/FOM are continuing to poke the wasps nest the is the F1 engine manufacturers, they better have this alternative engine ready to go or it could end up as ‘Formula Flintstone’ when the manufacturers get so fed up they take their toys home.