The endless debate over how Formula One can dig itself out of the current malaise will take its next turn on January 15th. The engine manufacturers have been tasked with devising solutions to the problems of power unit cost to customers together with less significant issues such as noise. If Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone are not satisfied with the proposals, they have threatened to introduce a second engine formula into the sport from as early as 2017.
This unilateral action will see Formula One begin another season under the cloud of controversy as Ferrari have indicated they do not believe the mandate given to Ecclestone and Todt by the World Motor Sport Council is legal.
Max Mosley, president of the FIA from 1993-2009, has repeatedly thrown in his two penneth on the subject of cost control and his latest eye catching suggestion is that drivers should be restricted to just two power units per season. This of course should cut the cost of their production in half (from 4 to 2) and hence the annual price paid by customer teams.
“The engine suppliers would immediately say it was impossible and would be a disaster,” says Mosley, and most would agree with his analysis of the response to such a proposal.
Some advocates of this two engine proposal have offered the LMP1 class in the WEC for comparison stating that during the Le Mans 24 hour race, the winning Porsche car on one engine covered just over 5380km – equivalent to 18 grand prix race distances. So why can a Formula One car not do the same kind of distance on a single hybrid power unit?
This comparison is headline grabbing, but as TJ13’s F1 forensics expert Tourdog has plotted for us this year, F1 engine mileage is already around this level. The most kilometres covered by a single ICE in 2015 was 5,586km and delivered by Sergio Pérez. Unsurprisingly, the next two in the list were also the Mercedes engines of Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg.
At the other end of the spectrum, the least mileage covered by an ICE was by Daniel Ricciardo, who racked up just 58km in practice in Australia before his #1 unit was consigned to the scrap heap.
For all the 2015 seasons power unit stats, click here, to enter the Chancery’s Archive.
The engine manufacturers are believed to be currently discussing reducing the number of power units a season available to each driver to three and the latest rumour is this could be implemented in 2016.
However, the current F1 power unit is composed of a number of other elements and it is questionable whether the current turbo designs could handle an increase of 2-3000 kilometres without failing. That said, as the Chancery Archive above reveals there were Electronic Storage devices and Control Electronics units from the 2015 PU’s, which were run by certain drivers for more almost 10,000km in 2015.
It appears Mosley’s headline grabbing proposal is probably a bridge too far for the current 2016 F1 power units, yet two engines per driver may become the target for the season after this one.