Ferrari International Assistance Strikes Again

Brought to you by TJ13 contributor TOURDOG

Parts of the World Motorsport Council’s announcements yesterday, were probably as muddled as anything the FIA has ever published. I kid you not – and neither am I exaggerating when I reveal, three of the TJ13 crew huddled together last night in the basement of Judge Towers and debated three sentences of FIA print for more than two hours.

The result? We’re still not completely clear as to the intentions of the new homologation regulations, but we understand there has been a change made to service Red Bull’s requirements and their shiny new TAG Heuer engine. However, we’ll return to that another time.

The 3rd of the sentences initially appeared to be fairly coherent and simple, until we picked at it a little deeper:

The World Motor Sport Council was also advised that the FIA had agreed for Ferrari to supply a fourth customer team with a 2015-specification Power Unit in 2016.

Prior to this week, F1 power unit manufacturers were allowed to supply a maximum of four teams which of course included themselves if they were running a ‘factory’ team. So what is the FIA’s definition of a “customer team”?

Well there isn’t one, but clearly a customer team is not a factory team, operated and owned by a manufacturer. Ferrari and Mercedes fit this description, but what about Renault and Red Bull, McLaren and Honda in 2015? Were they “customer teams” or what we call a ‘works’ team?

I would suggest the later. A works team we commonly accept is an outfit which builds F1 cars but not the power unit. However, it is not merely a “customer team” as Ron Dennis has gone to great lengths to distinguish, because it has a special relationship with the power unit manufacturer.

It could be that someone with experience in creating definitions would be a worthy recruit for Jean Todt and his merry band of bureaucrats in Paris.

At present Ferrari is set to supply the following with engines next year.

  1. Ferrari
  2. Sauber
  3. HAAS
  4. Toro Rosso (2015 engine)

And here are the other teams supply arrangements

  1. Mercedes  –  Mercedes
  2. Williams  – Mercedes
  3. Force India  – Mercedes
  4. Manor  –  Mercedes
  5. Renault(lotus) – Renault
  6. Red Bull – TAG
  7. Mclaren — Honda

All eleven teams are accounted for nicely. So why did the FIA change the regulation to allow Ferrari to supply another non-existing customer team? Also why is the regulation specific to Ferrari and not just couched to allow “any” manufacturer to supply a 4th team with a PU in 2016?

Is this the favouritism of the Ferrari International Assistance at work again?

This also raises another question. Who is the “official” manufacturer of the Red Bull 2016 power unit? TAG Heuer, Renault, Red Bull, or are they making allowances for the possibility of Ferrari?

And there’s yet another conundrum to be puzzled over.

Matthew Carter of Lotus was asked recently what would happen if Renault failed to complete their acquisition of Lotus. His reply was that Lotus would continue using a Mercedes power unit in 2016. However, Manor F1 had already jointly announced with Mercedes that they would be moving from using a Maranello power unit to one from Brixworth in 2016. But under the current regulations this is impossible because Mercedes would then be supplying 4 customer teams plus themselves.

Given that nobody else other than Haas, Toro Rosso and Sauber appear to want to be Ferrari customers in 2016, the regulation change offering Ferrari latitude for another customer indeed most strange.

There is another possibility, and it is complete and utter speculation on my part:

What if Ferrari is going to be considered their own customer?

In the document released by the WMSC, it is strange that they connect the three sentences in the way they did.

“Power Units homologated in previous seasons may now be re-homologated. Previously no manufacturer could supply more than one specification of PU. The World Motor Sport Council was also advised that the FIA had agreed for Ferrari to supply a fourth customer team with a 2015-specification Power Unit in 2016.”

What if Ferrari, now able to “Re-homologate”, does a fundamental design change to their PU, renames it something like “Alfa Romeo”, and then sells it to themselves?

This would accomplish two things:

  1. Ferrari would be able to copy the fundamental design of the all-dominant Mercedes
  2. The now publicly traded company Ferrari, could hide their PU development costs in Fiats books, making themselves look more profitable for the investors?

Anyway, I can assure you pondering the collective mindset of the the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile is not good for one’s sanity. So over to you the good TJ13 readers to work this one out. Maybe its just all to do with counting skills.

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20 responses to “Ferrari International Assistance Strikes Again

  1. a simple question…is ferrari themselves classified as a customer? if not then they can supply another team to make up the fourth customer.

    • 2 hours in the basement is a long time…

      You guys have glossed over something perhaps.

      The WMSC meeting (more importantly it’s agenda) was prior to Ghosn’s decision on whether or not Renault should stay in F1.

      Renault continued to demand more short-term monies from CVC to close the deal, or they would walk away (with exception of providing Red Bull a motor for a year, which Renault themselves would stop developing).

      Renault knew that if they walked from F1, two F1 teams would fall out of F1.

      If Renault walked, then Enstone would be obliged to use the Mercedes engine that Manor would otherwise use.

      Renault leaned on their business partner Mercedes to NOT supply more than 4 teams. In other words, Manor would have no engine at all.

      So Bernie leaned on Todt to quickly allow Ferrari to supply Manor. That enables, (in theory anyway) both teams to have motors and survive.

      Seems like hard ball.

      That would also explain the timing of Red Bull’s TAG Heuer engine announcement. The threat against Renault was that if they walked, and supplied Red Bull with an undeveloped, unreliable motor for 2016, it won’t be called a “TAG Heuer” motor, it would instead be called a “Renault” motor (further sullying Renault’s reputation, which is what Ghosn / Renault are attempting to escape). Once the Renault agreed to stay in, then Red Bull agreed to call the motor “TAG Heuer”.

      • I must agree. It seems the judge is looking for a conspiracy where none exists. Based on the wording, I would conclude that it was to ensure Manor had an engine (at reduced cost) available for 2016 if the Renault deal fell though and Lotus kept the Mercedes engine.
        Nothing more, nothing less.

  2. I think if you cast your mind back a wee way, you’ll find ample evidence to support Ferrari treating themselves as a customer. They have a separate entity they trot out when needs must.
    As to crafting another power unit under one of their house brands, why has it taken them so long to wake up?

    • doesn’t that then mean that ferrari could’ in practice’ supply red bull and mercedes could do the same, that is, if the same determination is made?

  3. 1. As I understand it the RBR “white labeled” Tag Heuer is simply a way for both Red Bull and Renault to save face, and I’m fine with that.

    2. Ferrari was going to catch up to Mercedes anyway, either this year or next, so there’s really no reason for them to re-homologate.

  4. Toro Rosso are/were contracted to use Renault engines in 2016. The wording is probably gobbledygook to allow Toro Rosso to break the contract.

    • You know, a contract can be voided by mutual agreement of both parties. Maybe Renault didn’t want to supply Toro Rosso and Toro Rosso wanted Ferrari; no big deal.

  5. sn’t the FIA’s complicated wording of their decision simply a way of saying “Ferrari is allowed to supply a year old engines to a team”. Last year Ferrari had to ask to be allowed to supply a year old engine for Manor and I wouldn’t be surprised if that decision was only valid for 1 season since it was a WMSC decision for dispensation and not a change to the rules.

    Ferrari driving without Ferrari engines… Ferrari may have started with Alf’s in the 30’s but they have raced with their own engines for far longer so that sounds so unlikely that I wouldn’t even count it as an option. I think it isn’t impossible if Ferrari is going to force their customers to run Alfa branded Ferrari engines but the Ferrari F1 team without Ferrari engines is not something I think the Ferrari team, let alone the Tifosi, would even consider as a possibility.

  6. Wow. Or you could see that it was previously said a team who wants to supply another team with a 2015 engine needs to ask for permission. In this case Ferrari asked the permission and they are saying Ferrari are allowed to that now. What’s to ponder about this in a basement for 3 hours….

  7. Are we absolutely sure Lotus is going to use the Renault PU ? If not, Mercedes might not be able to provide Manor with PU’s and they’ll have to continue with Ferrari.

  8. I did read the other day that Mercedes AMG F1 team, pays Mercedes HPP for their engine supply, all be it on a preferential basis. Also I think it was Marchionne or Arivabene (sorry about spelling) offered their “engine department’s” expertise to anyone who was interested in collaborating (namely RedBull) on an engine project. Maybe the base design for the new bastard PU RedBull are cobbling together incorporates the Ferrari ICE and not the Renault.

    • Maybe Red Bull made a deal to use renault for their engine initially, but also secured the 2015 ferrari engine on the understanding they could then develop it in the way discussed here for the renault ‘block’, and it’s this engine that they plan to develop in house? both engines will be labelled tag heur so nothing changes, they will simply ‘upgrade their PU’ at some point from a tag heur branded renault to tag heur branded ferrari…

  9. “Ferrari would be able to copy the fundamental design of the all-dominant Mercedes”
    I think most folks in this business have a good idea what the magic bullets of the 2015 Merco engines are and will implement them in 2016 if it’s not already done (thinking of the Ferrari upgrade mid-year). The question is weather Merco has anything in stock for next year, I bet they do.

    • It’s one thing to know what said silver bullet is, a completely different thing to making it work the same. And let’s forget how important the Petronas fuel and lubricants are.

  10. Plain and simple. This provision allows Ferrari to keep from supplying the latest competitive engine to a team that they fear. And it allows them to make lots of money on the deal that helps finance their own team. Then when Ferrari wins, they can say it due to the fact that they are just a better team than most. They get the most assistance in $$$ each year, yet they need more help to compete.

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