Mercedes & Ferrari to reduce F1 engine price but resist supplying Red Bull


The Friday deadline looms large as the day when the F1 manufacturers have to supply Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone with concrete proposals over power unit supply and prices for customer teams. January 15th was the deadline set by the president of the FIA and failure to deliver meant the threat of an independent supplier producing a ‘budget’ engine as competitive as the V6 hybrids was left hanging over Ferrari, Mercedes, Honda and Renault.

Rumours are now emerging ahead of Friday’s meeting that the engine suppliers have agreed to restrict the cost of power units to customers to 12m Euro’s from 2017. This is despite previous protestations form Ferrari and Mercedes who claimed this price would be below the cost of making these units. Part of the proposal will be that power unit allowance for the season is reduced to three per driver however Michael Schmidt of AMuS writes today “Ecclestone will not be satisfied. He wants an engine that in theory also an independent supplier like Cosworth or Ilmor can make.”

This of course is because Ecclestone believes the current engine manufacturers have too much power, a sentiment echoed by Red Bull’s Christian Horner. He argues that Ferrari and Mercedes refuse to supply a team like Red Bull because they know the Milton Keynes designed chassis is highly competitive. This may well be the case, yet the dot in the connection Horner makes is disingenuous. “The rules needs looking at. It cannot be right that a group of manufacturers can get together and say, ‘we are happy to see Red Bull go to the wall.’”

Of course Red Bull were not being forced to go to the wall by anyone, they had an existing contract with Renault which they didn’t fancy honouring. Red Bull’s gripe was that they expect to be granted each season a competitive engine, which is not the way F1 has worked over the decades. Both McLaren and Williams can testify to being constructor champions one year and losing their highly competitive winning engine supplier and being nowhere the following season.

So the question remains, should an F1 manufacture like Ferrari or Mercedes be forced to supply Red Bull with a power unit? In terms of equipment and personnel numbers, the Red Bull operation in Milton Keynes is similar if not larger than those comparable ‘non-engine’ departments in Maranello and Brackley. So given the lack of cost control on chassis spending, Red Bull could conceivably blow away the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes if supplied with one of their engines.

This is clearly something Mercedes and Ferrari fear will be forced upon them and Sergio Marchionne has already spoken on the matter. The Ferrari president suggested the notion of an ‘engine for all’ is not one Ferrari is opposed to and in fact he was open to a Ferrari collaboration with Mercedes or another manufacturer on delivering such a power unit. “Ferrari is available to join a project where we could develop power units,” he said.

However, Marchionne believes the funds for this project should be guaranteed by Ecclestone. “Ferrari spends a lot of money in F1 and this has a great impact on the brands and development on a lot of our commercial activities that do not have a lot to do with F1,” he said. “It costs a lot of money. This is also expensive for Mercedes. It seems the only winner is Bernie. Those who are managing the commercial rights should take their responsibility.

The Ferrari president makes it clear, Ferrari should only be forced to spend money in F1 where this suits its commercial interests and its other brands. This then prohibits them being made to subsidise the success of another global brand like Red Bull. “A change in the rules, imposing obligations on Ferrari or Mercedes, is absolutely inappropriate,” concludes Marchionne.

If you thought it was safe to come out because F1 engine wars was at an end, think again.

Share your thoughts on the matter. Should Ferrari or Mercedes be forced to supply a power house of chassis design like Red Bull? Or should those who want to eat at the top table in F1 have to go about it like McLaren and Williams have done over the years and find an agreeable engine partner?

23 responses to “Mercedes & Ferrari to reduce F1 engine price but resist supplying Red Bull

  1. The problem is, in the Red Bull era, the engines had pretty much reached the peak of what they were ever going to be, and so could be regarded as relatively “closed” (or frozen as it’s popularly called), whereas the aero/chassis rules remained relatively “open.”
    Now, we have the reverse. The engine rules are relatively “open” and the chassis/aero rules are relatively “closed.”
    What needs to happen is the establishment of a level playing field between engine and aero/chassis. And this can only be done through the technical regulations.
    Should Red Bull have a works engine? Yes. But then so should all the other teams.
    As a trade-off, regulations should exist which permit a level playing field for all aero/chassis wise. This requires simple, clear, concise, cost-effective regulations.
    When you have a level playing field for all, it’s then simply up to your team to do a better job.

    • “Should RedBull have a works engine?”…..

      Am I missing something, but is that not what they had all along?

      • I’m afraid you are missing something my friend. kenneth, Brendyman and hlg8888 all have it spot on.

        • RedBul had a full works and factory support from Renault. So please don’t give me that nonsense about they were just a ‘customer’ team.

          • @fortis…still in denial i see, just what i expected and forecast…spin. why don’t you query abiteboul himself who stated that red bull were a ‘customer’ team. manu’s must not be given the power to decide how F1 is run. it’s as simple as that. obviously this doesn’t play to your red bull bias.

          • He can say whatever he wants, but if you look at the relationship between them and RedBull after they sold their factory team to Genii, RedBull became the defacto factory team.

            They supplied engines to Lotus, Torro Rosso and Caterham, but none of those teams had the same spec engines that RedBull had.

            It was RedBull who back in 2010 I think it was, who petitioned the FIA to allow Renault the opportunity to open up their engines so as to make upgrades that would bring its power levels in line with that of Mercedes and Ferrari, that wasn’t Renault’s doing.

            Do you really think Torro Rosso has the exact same PU that RedBull had the pass 2 years? Come on now.

            So now people are believing what he says, but when Toto or Niki says that Mercedes customer teams has the exact same PU as the works team, they’re liars?

            So you’re accusing me of RedBull bias, does that mean your comments shows RedBull favouritism?

            Oh whilst you’re doing forecasting, you wouldn’t mind giving me the numbers for the power ball lottery in the States? 😉

  2. Horner needs to pull his head out of his arse and stop whining. Its all his own fault and I for one would like to see the back of them.

    • I personally don’t give a hoot about Red Bull but neither am I stupid enough to just say farewell to such a big supplier of talent, money and excitement to the sport. F1 needs to ask itself as well as all of its fans: what do we want, a display of how advanced car technology can be or a raw competition where the best combination of driver (1/3), chassis (1/3) and engine (1/3) will prevail. I vote competition not procession. But then we need parity!!

    • sorry to jump the queue here but i must if i want to reply to fortis. i have absolutely no reason to support red bull as i despise the way they treated webber when he was there. the fact is that i am a supporter of ricciardo and i want to see him in a competitive car. like wise i want to see red bull being able to take it to the leading teams as that will of itself shake up the status quo which, in case you haven’t been following, is something of a complete farce. as for the TR engines being different to the red bull engines since 2014 well until i read a definitive statement from all parties. horner/james key/ abitiboul then i will assume that they were identical. obviously you know better and i welcome the chance to read your evidence. if and when that is forthcoming?

  3. Then Red Bull could give Ferrari and Mercedes help in building a great chassi. I dont think they would like to give a way any of their ideas, right?!

    • Who’s talking about sharing? Sharing something and supplying something are entirely different things. There are no chassis suppliers in F1 (because customer cars…) but should they exist, don’t you think it would be a bit silly for them to be able to say “no, you’re too good for our chassis, you’re not getting it” because this is exactly what has happened with the engines. This is no longer about just money, this is about controlling the sport. 2 manufacturers have a grip on F1 right now and basically can decide who wins (and guess who apart from them will be allowed to do so?…). The idea behind a standardized engine spec is that basically all engines should perform on a similar level with small advantages/disadvantages in certain areas. like the previous spec – Ferrari was a bit faster than Renault but Renault was more flexible and efficient, picking Renault was an actual option. This clearly isn’t the case now as the performance gap between Merc and Renault (or worse – Honda) is a huge handicap for those that were not in good enough standing to get a Merc (or at least a Ferrari). While obviously, this is much more a fault of Renault and Honda than Merc and Ferrari, the current state of affairs should be changed and balanced as soon as possible and at whatever cost necessary (yes, even if it means that the manufacturers leave the sport).

  4. yes, you are missing something…a lot in fact. renault have put it out into the public arena that red bull was a ‘customer team’. now you may want to put any amount of spin on it but that is what they were. the fact is that the manu’s have control and that is bad. red bull should not be forced by mercedes/ferrari to run with dud engines. that is why there is a need for an independent engine to be introduced. why are merc/ferrari opposed to that? because it waters down their unhealthy influence on how the series is run and won. likewise pirelli should not have an exclusive contract as we have seen their modus operandi together with mercedes relative to the ’17 changes that were mooted. LMP1 can race with something like four variants of engine/PU and still be within seconds of each other after a minimum of six hours hard racing but it is ‘beyond the pinnacle’!! don’t make me laugh.

  5. OFFS! Its like the FISA/FOCA war all over again..

    Back in the 70’s and early 80’s Bernie and Mosley – and the British DFV brigade – took on the FISA and manufacturers. It was felt that the grandees wielded too much power. I e Ferrari, Renault, Alfa romeo. The only thing that’s changed is that the passively led Todt organisation is siding with the Suffolk toad.

    It has always been thus as any good book on the history of Grand Prix racing will confirm.

    As to Red Bull I don’t remember Horner suggesting that their engine partner should give up their advantages to the opposition whilst they were dominating.. What he/they should do is take a glance at Woking and the pain they’re are currently experiencing.

    It may not work out for Honda this time, personally I don’t believe the Orient has the mythological prowess that people suggest, but considering Mclaren are a manufacturer now, surely it would be better for the brand to build their own engines… Yes, yes, I know, it’s prohibitively expensive.

    So Mr E suggests a modern day DFV solution.

    As to F1 being the pinnacle of the sport – well that’s an incorrect preconception.

    F1 has been the best funded motorsport since the 80’s with Bernie controlling TV production and eliminating any other series in partnership with his pal Max. Group C anyone?

    With the levels of funding available of course the top engineers gravitate to F1. But if you look back beyond the last three decades, sports car racing was the technological pinnacle with top manufacturers and drivers all competing. It’s arguable that the WEC remains so today.

    Back in the 80’s Le Mans was run the same weekends as the Detroit and Canadian GPs to take the drivers and TV exposure away. Hulkenburg won last year between GPs and the calendar has been changed once again.

    Only watertight contracts stop current top drivers competing elsewhere – commercial interests etc. But the legends of the sport always raced in whatever they could get.

    Briatore was right!!! It’s entertainment and the majority of viewers have no interest in the subtleties of the technology involved. As long as a smart phone works, my laptop fires up and the car is a safe drive home – I have no interest in the subtle update the manufacturers make in their products.

    Lewis is media gold because of his lifestyle, personality and his racing ability. I don’t see too many column inches given over to design updates of his current steed.

  6. Neither option is realistic. The best way out of this self induced mess is for the non-works teams to get an independent engine. The manufacturers will not provide an equal performance specification power unit to a real competitor. The solution is a 1.6L turbo made by AER, RML, Mecachrome, Ilmor, or Cosworth. Then put ERS-K on the front wheels. Allow the manufacturers the same but limit electrical energy deployment to the same for both manufacturer and independent, no matter how that E-energy is harvested. 6MJ sounds nice. F1 becomes 4 wheel drive and all have ERS, all have 1.6L turbos, all have the same ERS deployment, and all are playing to the same rules.

  7. New rules should be written where every manufacturer has to supply customer teams with the exact same spec engine as the factory team at every race. I don’t understand why teams pay millions for engines that are one or two specs behind the factory teams. If you want competition make that rule change. Also every manufacturer must have the capacity to supply at least five teams, including their own, and be prepared to supply teams that need engines, either voluntarily or by FIA directive. That way teams like Red Bull can get their hands on a competitive engine.

  8. I don’t think I have ever read a TJ13 comments thread where I can say I agree with pretty much everything said…. Except fortis96 ofc

  9. We got to this point because Red Bull … that daringly audacious, incredibly well funded, unbelievably successful, non motor industry related, fizzy drink company, got too big for it’s boots. In the eyes of the motor industry heavy weights, they had to be stopped.
    Simply put, Red Bull’s dominant chassis made those major manufacturers look very silly. It took the wind out of their F1 sails. The RB chassis’ could have had any V8 worth it’s salt bolted into it and the cars would have won. A fact proven by Renault’s engine continuously being shown not to be the fastest or most powerful, it just had to be quick and reliable. Newey and his disciples provided the rest!
    The motor industry is what the FIA(UTOMOBILES!) exist for.
    So when powerful companies like Merc, Ferrari (and Renault) go to the FIA and put an ultimatum to them like, “We are contemplating leaving F1 if we don’t have a more suitable formula and a better platform to market our business from”, the FIA jumps to it and acts accordingly.
    The move to Hybrid PU’s and less aero dominance was an obvious way for the FIA to hobble Red Bull, and at the same time, accommodate the major manufacturers of road cars in an effort to entice them back to F1.
    Even Renault were disillusioned with the political power Red Bull had built within F1, so they were happy to play along with the jump to hybrid as long as the engines were V6 Turbo, because they arrogantly believed they would have the jump on Merc who use more V8 and V10 engines than V6’s in their road cars!
    Little did they know the level of knowledge Merc already had with hybrid technology, from a single cylinder R&D PU which could be adapted to any configuration fairly easily. No-one knew Merc would invest billion$ in Hybrid tech to get to the top and show the world how supreme their engineering excellence is.
    Silly thing is, in pandering to the manufacturers cry for help, the FIA created a totally new, unexpected monster of even greater significance.
    The political arena in F1 where Red Bull had developed a major say, is now lorded over by two very powerful car manufacturers. The same ones the FIA changed the rules for!
    Merc are now the “dominant male in the jungle” and they have cleverly taken Ferrari under their wing as a subordinate ally. They cunningly aided the prancing horse with information on how to harmoniously ‘marry’ the various electrical units to the V6 Turbo before the Malaysian GP in 2015, and in turn, gained an incredibly powerful ally at the negotiation table.

    IMO, the only way to fix this current monopoly, on and off the track, is to rewrite the rules of the game completely. Then they can police those new rules without any input from the competitors and go forward without the messy politics which are currently destroying F1.
    Hybrid has been a monumental failure in F1! Leave hybrid tech to the WEC and GP2 and start afresh with something ground breaking … maybe a TOTALLY green alternative this time, one which does away with fossil fuel completely, like hydrogen power.
    That kind of futuristic, clean technology would instantly bring F1 back to it’s all important individuality. Go back to being the pinnacle of motor engineering and bring all manner of new and fascinating scenarios to a sport which has become nothing less than a boring platform for political posturing. F1 has become a farcical mess, akin to ‘question time’ in parliament houses all over the world.
    We all know how ugly and demeaning that circus is to watch … and little if anything positive actually gets done when the over-paid fools walk out into the real world!
    Sound familiar?

  10. ” start afresh with something ground breaking … maybe a TOTALLY green alternative this time, one which does away with fossil fuel completely, like hydrogen power. That kind of futuristic, clean technology would instantly bring F1 back to it’s all important individuality.”
    Nobody I’ve met watches F1 because they want to see “futuristic clean technology” – they want to see fierce racing with an unpredictable component.
    When reading the magic-wand word “green”, I immediately reach for my revolver. If you wan’t “green” F1 (does anyone?) how are you going to justify the insane extravagance of the support infrastructure (private jets, helicopters, 747 freighters, immense mobile palaces etc) by adopting the fig-leaf of so-called “green” engines. The first notional step toward this ridiculous objective (ie the current PU specification) has already ballsed up F1 almost beyond repair. Why not go the whole way? – eliminate the current F1 format and re-badge the full-sized Scalextric formula as EF1? That’d really draw a huge audience.

    • You fell into the mindless-fool’s trap of spitting sarcasm and totally missed my point ol’ chap. You obviously place yourself in the f-i-g-j-a-m category rather than the more positive, idea-oriented fig-leaf one you placed me in.
      If you’d read my comments carefully, you’d understand that I hate green F1 too.
      Purely from memory, I believe I actually wrote something similar to that in my comment above, but you must be strapped for time or ignorantly skipped over that bit and forgot to engage thy brain before putting thy keyboard into gear!!!
      Sadly, you are merely repeating Bernie’s (and millions of others) comments about the circus train of fossil fuel burning logistics which surrounds and accommodates F1.
      If you want to put fossil fuel burning ‘vehicles’ aside for a moment and take your comments to the extreme, why not add rubber, batteries, plastics, carbon composites, metal alloys etc etc etc. Those things are all killing the environment, whether they are being procured, manufactured, used, or disposed of.
      In that case, I guess we all should wrap ourselves in cotton wool, close the blinds and play cards by candlelight … rather than your not-so-witty statement of playing with a full-sized Scalextric set call and call it EF1… because believe it or not champ … it’s actually made from all of those things too!!!
      In saying that, I totally agree with you, Bernie and everyone else who displays a hatred of the hypocritical transportation area of all forms of modern professional motor racing. Most especially those series which are lorded over by the FIA and WMSC, not just F1!
      Unfortunately, that part of the game will only ever change when cars, helicopters and trucks become “Jetson’s styled” magnetic impulse driven vehicles and long haul 747 freighters & private jets can travel at supersonic speeds on fresh air fuel which cut travel times by 95%. It’s a pipedream!

      F1 should be a leader, a ground-breaking separate entity, leaving green tech and hybrid – as well as cost-cuts and equality – to FIA series such as FE, WEC, GP2 and various other “Formula” series.
      If it is to become the pinnacle of motor racing again, F1 should NOT be under the FIA’s banner at all. Especially if we want the brilliant boffins from important industries like aerospace, electronics, plastics & rubber, carbon, adhesives, lubricant etc to return and throw their investment back into F1.
      Thanks to the incestuous nature of the FIA and the WMSC, those elements are sadly missing now. They were massive ingredients of F1 and what made F1 the pinnacle of motorsport during the late 1970s, 80s and early 90s!

      The only way to get back to that point is through investment in futuristic innovation … F1 should be one of the prime R&D platforms for billionaires, engineers and boffins to help get us there. No restrictive budgets and not bans on testing!
      If the minnow teams can’t survive in F1 against billionaires with open cheque books, GO TO GP2 racing!

      You and I can kick, bite and scream but no matter what happens in F1 as it stands today, (under the farcical umbrella of the automotive industry and it’s various FIA’s, WMSC’s etc which are only there to appease federal governments and climate control clowns), greener technology will always be the main target when making rules and regulations.

      I am a mad keen racer myself! I’ve raced moto-x, speedway cars and Aussie V8 touring cars, all at a very competitive level. Like you, I too despise boring processions and easily forecast results after the opening lap of a two hour long race!
      All of us would love nothing more than to see 8-10 cars battling it out for 75 laps, swapping positon 5 times per lap like Moto3 bikes, wheel to wheel, swapping paint and sharing middle fingered gestures in disgust when the get punted off the road!
      Unfortunately, it’s simply not going to happen while F1 is the FIA’s puppet, existing mainly for the major manufacturers of road cars and the automotive industry. Unless a breakaway series is formed and/or we do away with the agenda driven lord’s of the motor industry altogether, green tech is here to stay.
      The best thing that could happen to F1 is for a consortium of middle eastern billionaire sheiks to buy F1 from CVC and FOM and take it over completely. They are the only ones in the world today who could get away with reinstating fire breathing V8’s, V10’s and V12s which would happily guzzle down the distilled fruits of their oil fields and return the game to the good old days. ‘Greenies’ are nothing more than cannon fodder to oil barons!

      Until something like that happens in F1, Jean Todt, along with his freebie Mercedes Benz and Ferrari driving cronies will continue to set the rules and regs to accommodate Stuttgart and Maranello … while blatantly not giving a flying f..k what the non motor industry related F1 teams and F1 loving fans think!

  11. Guys, is like you work for Red Bull, this situation is an absolutely normal period of dominance, typical of F1, and the only way the races could become better is not with changing rules, gimmicks like refueling, and instability… If the rules are changed again is a new lottery with new winners and new era of dominance. We have to let the rules solidify, the teams get better and let the other teams adjust. One way should be getting rid of the token system, and let everybody update.
    And the manufacturers giving Red Bull one of the best PUs is crazy, redBull expends more money than Mercedes and Ferrari! Without building am engine, what do you expect ? They need their own PU and the growing pains a la Maclaren.
    Stop defending the Bulls

    • They aren’t defending the Bulls, if they were they’d be running the Lamborghini red bull story that is currently under gag order and cease and desist.

      2017 lambo red bull.

      Tj13 is just a little upset they missed the scoop.

    • Sounds like you are just another Red Bull hater! I would love to work for an amazing businessman like Dietrich Mateschitz and a racing team like Red Bull!
      Mercedes winning and running second in 97% of the races over the past 2 years is MOST CERTAINLY NOT “an absolutely normal period of dominance, typical of F1”!
      If Merc are allowed to enjoy another couple of years of developing Hybrid technology while the rules ‘solidify’, they will be so far in front, the other teams will need to start the races on Thursdays!
      I don’t like it either, but the token system is the only thing stopping Merc and Ferrari from developing their PUs to the point where they are 2 laps ahead after 30 mins and 18 laps of racing!
      Merc’s talk about fair competition is a total joke, they are totally loving their absolute dominance. That’s why they won’t supply Red Bull with an engine! Ferrari too! If Merc or Ferrari had someone as brilliant as Adrian Newey, they would not need to spend so much on their PUs. Ferrari offered Newey 40 million Euro to go to Maranello 2 years ago … because their aero department is second rate!
      Red Bull have not spent more than Merc and Ferrari! Merc have spent billion$ over a ten year period on the R&D of their Hybrid PU’s alone! That’s before building a chassis to put them in and aero to keep them on the track!
      When did McLaren build an engine? They have a separate company called Honda as their engine supplier!!!

      Maybe you should actually watch F1 before you make comments like this.

  12. @ aberracus…that is just plain silly. all red bull want is to be able to compete, to have a chance at taking on the dominan
    t teams like ferrari and mercedes but as long as they are denied an engine they will be destined to run below their potential. red bull is an independent team like williams, sauber, force india et al and they have all secured engine supplies!!! what we are seeing here is an attempt by the manufacturers to force red bull out of F1, nothing more and nothing less. they failed this time around but what will happen in ’17?

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