Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe believes now is the time to start generating ideas for a new engine formula, ready for when the current agreement ends in 2020.
The current V6 hybrid turbo era came into effect in 2014 after numerous years of development. This change even brought a new title to formula ones engine… ‘the power unit’. This engine though has been criticised since its introduction for a coherent lack of noise, where many believe the noise levels of the V8’s brought fair weather fans to the track side.
Paddy is adamant that the same mistakes cannot be made again, and the new regulations offer the chance to do something fresh.
When quizzed about the next engine formula paddy had this to say:
“That’s a good question and it’s a big question. I think it is about time we started to talk about the engine beyond this one.
“And it does raise some very big considerations: how do we define an engine or power unit that is correct for the sport but also relevant to the kind of power units that we will see in the future in road cars? Do we make remain in some way related attached to that technology which is increasingly electrical or do we go our own way? So there are some very very important questions there.”
Paddy also went into detail over the engine noise debate, especially with F1’s current manufacturers and admits the technology must remain relevant to road car technology.
“That debate started really with the issue of the sound of these engines when they arrived in 2014. It’s better now than it was back then but it doesn’t match the sound of the old V8s or the V10s but it still raises an interesting debate.
“I think road cars of the future, at some point not that far off, will be completely silent if they are all electrical so will we want noise, will we associate noise with performance or not? There are some very interesting debates there and I think we need to start that process.”
Ex Mercedes employee Jock Clear also agreed with Paddy, stating that the teams need plenty of time to digest what the regulations may look like.
“It needs to be thought about. I think what we have learned from this cycle and this era of hybrid engines is that the power units now are very, very complicated and it needs a lot of planning and I think we’ll go into those next negotiations with eyes wide open this time.
“I don’t think there’s anybody who didn’t fall into the category of underestimating what might have been involved, and as such, [so] the sooner we start, the sooner we’ll be aware and the sooner we can come to a solution that will be the best for the sport.”
The noise is a big part of the attraction no doubt. Formula one needs to understand if they are an entertainment business, or the pinnacle of technology. Can we have both?
The noise never concerned me until a lady on the banks of turn 3 at Albert park in 2014, voiced her disgust at the silent assassins! The lady was in her 60’s and didn’t care for the technological advances that make my pulses race. Time to bring those fans back.
The chest rattling noise of engines gone by is certainly missed, but the sound of the hybrids bring another element to the fans. Stand on a braking zone and you can hear the drivers working, much like the noise engagement from the blown diffuser era.
It’s hard to imagine the noise ever returning though. A one litre three pot hybrid formula anyone?