Ecclestone losing the ‘unicorn’ F1 engine battle


Reflecting on the year that was, Toto Wolff is content with the overall performance of his Mercedes AMG F1 team, though he admits it wasn’t all plain sailing. “Monaco was the emotional low point [a strategy error costing Lewis Hamilton’s victory]. We saw that our systems failed in several respects. And I was part of this system. But we have taken it on the nose, changing certain things, to ensure we are not thrown off course in the future.” Toto concedes the cars performance in Singapore was also a body blow.

Yet on the whole Wolff can be satisfied but also recognises Formula One is facing some major challenges at present. In particular the issue surrounding the current power units which are costing the customers around 20 million euros a year. The manufacturers have been given a January deadline to present solutions to these problems or face the spectre of Jean Todt forcing through an alternative engine design to be supplied by an independent manufacturer at a cost of around 10-12 million euros.

Ecclestone is particularly keen on this idea and has opposed the V6 hybrids from before they debuted on track. Yet Jean Todt is pro the new PU’s and believes it demonstrates from a technology standpoint what F1 is all about. So, if the manufacturers can allay his concerns, the ‘unicorn’ engine of equal parity will be dropped without further ado.

Toto Wolff believes this will be the case.“In January we will present a concept that is based on the architecture we have at present, but will put right the things that we’ve done wrong. The Formula 1 needs to be louder, more exciting and the cars need a lot of power and a higher top speed. ” Toto rubbishes the idea of the alternative budget engine and claims, “it is complete nonsense and just a few people are still debating it. We are using hybrids on the road and will continue racing with them”.

It may be Red Bull Racing are one of the few Toto refers to, and aligned with Ecclestone Milton Keynes look set to press for the alternative engine as the F1 battle of politics resumes in the new year. Yet with all four current F1 manufacturers committed to hybrid power, it seems unlikely they can all be persuaded an alternative should be allowed. Ferrari and Mercedes will find an ‘alternative’ business model which will allow them to offer power units to customers at a more competitive price, because the spectre of losing them to the ‘independent’ engine would bust the current ‘business plans’ in any case.

17 responses to “Ecclestone losing the ‘unicorn’ F1 engine battle

  1. In the end, F1 will need to create parity, or there will be no competition, thus even less interest, fewer viewers, fewer sponsors then BUST.

    • If it wants to create excitement, you need to be able to compete, so you need parity or else it’s procession time.

  2. If the unicorn engine forces Ferrari and Mercedes to redevelop the business case in a way that creates cheaper customer PUs, isn’t it mission accomplished for Jean and Bernard?

    • Yes exactly right, Nathan.

      The alternative engine wins either way. If Ferrari and Mercedes toe the line and drop the cost to the teams down to the levels that Jean Todt specified, then mission accomplished. Either way, the costs to the teams will go down to the level that Todt specified.

      From Toto’s prior comments, it was apparent that Mercedes wasn’t the brittle one in these negotiations, it’s Marchionne. Ferrari will decide whether or not the alternative engine blossoms to life in F1.

  3. as a self-taught engineer, IMHO, it is IMPOSSIBLE to create a formula whereas the old school NA or turbo or Wankle or 2 cycle or turbine or full electric can race with a hybrid equally on all courses. it would take a BOP adjustment for each and every course and that will NEVER be fair or just no matter how equitable the powers that be want to see it happen.
    game over! either stick with the current bullshit or revert to the old school formula and do it NOW!

  4. hopefully the new engine gets a guernsey. mercedes and ferrari are dictating the outcomes of F1 and that should never be allowed. the red bull mess is a perfect example. cost wasn’t an issue….competition was what caused the problems and if a new supplier isn’t forthcoming then ’17 will be a rerun of ’15.’16. not good enough.

  5. The alternative simpler engine the red bullies wants will not happen, and neither will they be allowed to modify/developed an engine that is already homologated by a manufacturer unless the regulations are rewritten, and the individual concords signed with teams are torn-up, not to mention the agreed upon and guaranteed life-span of the of the present PU’S.
    If any modifications to the present PU’s regulations are going to be made, they will be what the present manufacturers agree too.

  6. so sunny stivala you think that ferrari and mercedes have the right to dictate who gets a competitive engine and who doesn’t ? that is in effect manipulation of the possible outcomes of any GP. wrong, wrong and wrong again.

  7. Any manufacturer has a right to say yes or no to any would be customer.
    Totd and Bernie have no right to the power they were arbitrary given, not from a sporting side nor legally.

    • But a supervisory body of a sport has a right and a duty to promote fair competition between participants. So no participant should be able to 1) have an advantage over the others for too long. 2) determine who can or can not have the same ability to fight.
      If I have inside knowledge of a company I have to give up my advantage by disclosing this to the authorities even though I could in theory trade the whole world into poverty and starvation. It’s that simple if F1 continues on this path, the walls will tumble down.

      • Ferrari/Schumacher won 5 titles before their domination was considered as “too long”, and RedBull/Seb won 4 titles. Mercedes now is at half of that (2), so I wouldn’t be considering it too long just yet 😉

  8. F1 should just be allowed to die. Then a new series can start off with a clean sheet.

    Just too many vested interests and solutions over the years have been compromised.

    But easy for an arm chair critic like me to say this 🙂

    • The racing side of things are not that hard to solve, it’s getting teams and manufacturers to agree on the changes required that is the problem. F1 has always changed and evolved over time, it’s just stuck in a rut due to the way Bernie has run the sport.

      For those longing for V8’s and V10’s forget it. The manufacturers have zero interest in that, F1 is a testing ground for hybrid systems and related technology. I think you would at that point see the manufacturers leaving F1 and setting up a rival series. As far as Ferrari goes ? Last time I checked, Ferrari were behind other manufacturers in the hybrid stakes (even McLaren). So realistically Ferrari needs to use F1 as a test ground for these systems.

      Noise is wasted energy. Wasted energy means less speed. F1 is all about the speed.

  9. “The supervisory body of the sports has a right and duty to promote fair competition” That was what Mosely intentions were when he wanted the so called “world engine” enforced in formula one. well onhalfthecancerofF1 is gone, when F1 gets rid of the other onehalfcancerleftinF1 most of the formula one problems will be gone.

  10. It is clear that at the heart of the engine debate are two conflicting agendas with respect to the teams competing within F1.

    1 The engine manufacturers want their factory cars to be superior to the teams they supply, whilst the independent teams want to produce a competitive car that can win races.

    2. The independent teams find engine costs prohibitive, whilst there is no ‘incentive’ for manufacturers to make the supply of engines more affordable.

    Alter the regulatory format in order to address the agenda and motivational issues for the teams competing within F1 by having 4 championships as opposed to 2 championships.

    Whilst at present there are 2 Championships within F1 (Drivers and Constructors), as a result of the above two agenda issues, THERE IS ALREADY IN EFFECT three championships being run, that is: a Drivers Championship; a championship between the engine Factory Teams; & a championship between the best of the rest.

    This outcome results because the Factory Teams are essentially focussed on competing against each other, whilst the independent teams are in effect pitting themselves against each other, due to there being no motivation for the Factory Teams to supply the independent teams with the latest spec engines.

    Create 4 Championships.

    Firstly, create a championship for each of the three championships already being waged at the moment, that is:

    1. a ‘Drivers Championship’ – which would include both the Factory & Constructor Teams
    2. a ‘Factory Team Championship’ (3 cars/team) and
    3. a ‘Constructor Team Championship’ (2 cars/team) – which would exclude the Factory Teams.

    Secondly, create another competition in the form of:

    4. an ‘Engine Championship’ – which would include both the Factory & Constructor Teams.


    F1 would comprise 4 ‘COMPETING’ engine manufactures with each having to supply: ONE Factory Team, with 3 cars on the grid (FACTORY CHAMPIONSHIP); and TWO independent Constructor Teams, with each having 2 cars on the grid (CONSTRUCTOR CHAMPIONSHIP).

    A 5th development engine manufacturer would also be on the grid each year by being able to bid at the beginning of each season to field a Factory Team of 3 cars to compete in the Factory Team Championship. If at the end of the year the development manufacturer places 4th or better, the team would then enter the competition in the subsequent year as a ‘competing’ engine manufacturer, whilst the team coming 5th would need to bid alongside other potential teams for a place on the grid as the development team.

    Engine suppliers would therefore need to woo 2 Constructor Teams to align their engines with alongside their Factory Team, thus there would be a motivation to keep their offerings competitive in order to woo a better team, whilst also motivating manufacturers to supply their best engines so that the Constructor Teams would feel they were being looked after as favourably as a rival engine supplier was looking after their teams (this scenario would also align with the motivations resulting from the Engine Championship, as detailed below). The above framework would result in 31 cars on the grid.

    With the inclusion of a Factory Championship, having teams of 3 drivers would no longer be a problem in terms of points allocation (which would be the case for the current Constructor Championship), as the Factory Teams would no longer be competing within the Constructor Championship which would only comprise teams of 2 drivers.

    Having three drivers within the Factory Teams would also create a series of mini competitions within the team, and would give more drivers access to competitive cars, thus providing more drivers with the ability to better showcase their skills.

    There would be no impact on the Drivers Championship of there being 3 drivers in the Factory Championship; in fact it could make it more competitive for drivers within a consistent Constructor Team, as there would be a greater disbursement of points due to drivers within each Factory Team competing against each other.

    The Engine Championship would be based upon points being allocated in relation to the FINISHING position of EVERY car on the grid. This would therefore reward, and place greater emphasis upon, engine reliability. It would also be yet another motivator for manufacturers to provide the latest spec engines to their fleet of constructors.

    The podium would comprise:
    1. A presentation to the team principle for the first Factory Team across the line (or to the Constructor Team principal if a Constructor Team wins the race).
    2. A presentation to the driver and team principle for the first Constructor Team across the line (or to the team principal only if a Constructor Team places, 2nd or 3rd, or to the Factory Team Principal if a Constructor Team wins the race).
    3. A presentation to the representative of the winning engine manufacturer, based upon the total points accumulated in the race.
    4. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd place drivers would then arrive on the podium with a continuation of the existing presentation format.

    The format of having 4 engine manufacturers supplying a Factory Team and AT LEAST 2 Constructor Teams would also enable a 5th competition, in the form of a Tyre Championship.

    The Tyre Championship could comprise 3 tyre manufacturers. Each tyre manufacturer would be required to supply one of each of the engine manufacturer’s 3 teams, the appointment for which would be negotiated prior to commencement of the championship and locked in throughout the season. Points would be awarded to each tyre manufacturer based upon the finishing place for each of the 28 cars on the grid.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.