The FIA budget alternative engine drama is over for now. Mechachrome, AER and Illmor will by now have realised they were just pawns in a game – a game where the rule makers designed the board so incoherently before its launch in 2014, that it has and will continually require revision during its 7 year life cycle to 2020. With regard to the efforts from the potential alternative engine manufacturers, the FIA noted at the F1 commission’s gathering: “The meetings acknowledged the four credible Expressions of Interest made for the manufacture and supply of a less expensive alternative customer engine”.
The FIA pretty much allowed the auto manufacturers to write their own regulations for the new V6 Hybrid Turbo power units. Worse still, engineers were at the forefront of the working parties, unfettered by the realism of an accountant.
Then by some dark financial art called ‘internal cost allocation’, a price of around 20-25million euros was set for customer teams to acquire these impressive mechanical creations. Nobody really knows if Toto Wolff is telling the truth that Mercedes are losing money at this price selling their V6 Tubro Hybrid – not even Toto himself. It depends on the assumptions behind the calculations.
Auto manufacturers spend $10m’s every day on R&D so it’s fortunate for Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari they can charge their power unit design costs to an F1 project – making their car production activities more profitable.
This price tag attached to a customer power unit then was between 25-40% of an independent F1 team’s annual budget; quite ridiculous of course, not that Mercedes or Ferrari care a jot.
The president of the FIA wakes from his 100 years of slumber, demands a price cap of 12m euros for the power units, Ferrari uses its veto – and so the ‘alternative budget F1 engine’ notion was floated. This most transparent tool designed to manipulate Ferrari and Mercedes into agreeing to cut their engine price, was never really worth the paper it wasn’t written on.
The F1 commission which includes the teams, the FIA, FOM, race organiser and F1 sponsor representatives, failed to give the new engine proposal the 18 (form 24) votes it required yesterday.
The FIA of course then have to return to Ferrari and Mercedes cap in hand. The following matters must be properly considered by the manufacturers and proposals placed in front of the FIA before the 15th January 2016.
- All teams must be guaranteed the supply of a Power Unit. Interestingly, the fact that Red Bull had a contract with Renault for 2016 meant this piece of criteria would have been met.
- There is a need to lower the cost of Power Units to customer teams
- Simplification of the technical specification of the power units
- Improved noise
There will also be agreed a minimum number of teams that any F1 engine manufacturer can be forced to supply.
The FIA added the following veiled threat should the proposed proceedings fail to deliver. “The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option [budget engine] at this stage – however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group.”
The big question is when will all this happen? The answer is HOPEFULLY for 2017 and DEFINITELY by 2018 – when of course there are just a couple of seasons left before the next big F1 changes occur in 2020.
WE’RE BUSY DOING NOTHING,
WORKING THE WHOLE DAY THROUGH.
TRYING TO FIND LOTS OF THINGS,
NOT TO DO.
WE’RE BUSY GOING NOWHERE,
ISN’T IT JUST A CRIME?
WE’D LIKE TO BE UNHAPPY,
BUT WE NEVER DO HAVE THE TIME
proposed new FIA anthem
Yet for the cynics amongst us, the meeting notes concluded: “The first meeting between the FIA and the Power Unit manufacturers on this topic will be held this week at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.”