It all began with the president of the FIA waking up and smelling the Parisian roses. Jean Todt admitted the FIA had failed by not putting a cost cap on the new V6 Turbo hybrid engines during the technical consultations some years ago. So in collaboration with Bernie Ecclestone, an engine cost cap of around 12 million euros was pushed through for 2017.
Ferrari objected and used their sacred veto to prevent this from going any further.
Jean and Bernie decided that a new budget engine must be produced by another manufacturer and set about inviting expressions of interest to tender. However, the F1 commission voted this proposal down, so the next counter thrust was a statement issued by the World Motorsport Council which read:
“The World Motor Sport Council approved, by a near unanimous number (just one vote against), a mandate for the FIA President, Jean Todt and the Representative of the Commercial Rights Holder, Bernie Ecclestone to make recommendations and decisions regarding a number of pressing issues in Formula One such as governance, Power Units and cost reduction.
“Mr Todt and Mr Ecclestone expressed their intention to establish conclusions on these matters by 31 January, 2016.”
As Honda’s motorsport chief, Yasuhisa Arai explains – this means the F1 engine manufacturers have been given ‘homework’. Yet his comments imply, very little will happen by January 31st.
Whilst suggesting the talks are positive for the future sustainability of Formula One, Arai made it clear, “It hasn’t progressed that much. The meeting itself was put together because of the cost issue and there are many options with regards to reducing costs.
“So it’s now for all the manufactures to look into the options and then we will discuss these in the future.
It could continue on for a long time”.
In fact it looks as though the engine manufacturers are now going defy the instructions of Bernie and Jean, despite the threat of an imminent dictatorship taking control of Formula One. Ferrari’s team principal claims, “The FIA came with a long list of things to do. We changed the approach of the meeting because it is not to say the turbo yes or mono-turbo yes, or the other way around, and try and tick the boxes”.
It appears the teams will agree to a redesign of the V6 Turbo Hybrid power unit – but for 2018 – as Arrivabene reveals. “We need to set a target for our engineers and they need to respect it. Then they get together and now they are trying to seriously go a step forward.
“You can’t design an engine for 2018 in three hours. But I think the step they are making is looking good for the future to achieve the target that was set for them.”
Clearly there is an element of a swipe at the FIA’s past failings as Arrivbene insists, “All the team principals that were present were setting a target. I like a lot the engineers, but if you let them decide, they are going to the sky”.
The result, F1 may have a new engine Formula before the original plans for 2020, though we are at least two seasons away from seeing the reality on track. However, there is little hope there will be a return to the beloved formula where the combustion engine is King, given that each of the engine current four F1 power unit manufacturers favour units based around the current design.