Ecclestone admits big mistake – F1 Hybrid

Complaints, knee jerk reaction and criticism are not unusual in our world of F1 social media. And so it is rather ironic that the man who has failed the new media generation also voices such things about his own product, namely F1.

Yet again, the boss of F1 (for now) has told reporters that F1’s ‘biggest mistake was introducing hybrid’ into the sport. Perhaps in an attempt to shape the new owners thoughts as to the future of F1, again Mr E criticises the complicated technology and Mercedes dominance. Repeatedly stressing he’d change the engine rules today if it were possible.

“The problem is that they [the manufacturers] have spent a lot of money for the engines and they do not want to just drop it,” said Ecclestone to the German press yesterday.

“When they were designed, no one would have believed that it is what we have today.

“Before the race, people want to think that four or five guys can win, but now they say usually: ‘It is one of those two, probably Lewis…”

“The biggest mistake people have made – and I say people because I was not alone – was not insisting that Mercedes supply Red Bull with an engine,”

“If they had the same engine as Mercedes, we would see good racing,” Ecclestone is convinced.

Who can forget the farcical, nigh comedy pantomime story that occurred when Red Bull spurred Renault for the last time in 2015. Convinced that VW would enter F1 and save the day for Red Bull, alas it wasn’t to be.

The idea of a Mercedes Power Unit in a Red Bull was a non starter. In no small part due to the complicated political struggle between Mercedes bosses, Niki Lauda wishing to help his friend Helmut Marko of Red Bull and Toto Wolff’s fears of allowing the dilution of the Silver Arrows success within the sport. Ever present was the fear that all that Merc IP would then just fall into the lap of a VW deal to become Red Bull’s sole supplier the following year.

And yet since the dawn of the 2014 Hybrid era Mercedes has dominated. Laughable considering they’re the one manufacturer that never wanted KERS, the early hybrid electrical boost system introduced in 2009.

Mr Ecclestone has often been critical of these hybrid engine regs. But it is very hard to imagine that he had no say in that direction when he and his mate Max Mosley, the former FIA president, lead F1 into this era. And perhaps that is the biggest irony of all.

23 responses to “Ecclestone admits big mistake – F1 Hybrid

  1. I’ll state up front that I don’t like the hybrid engines or as the technology fanboys like to call them -PU’s. I love technology, but in this case it was introduced for the wrong reasons.

    Todt in his role as president of the FIA, and one day UN Secretary General hopeful, saw the technology as a way to promote his green (real or imagined) credentials, and at the same time placate the tree-huggers who have wanted to shut-down motor racing. Road safety is now his agenda.

    Renault and to a lesser degree M-B wanted them as PR and marketing tools for their road car divisions. While Ferrari likely didn’t really care, though a similar system did turn up in the LaFerrari, though not many people would see a 6.3 L V12 as particularly green even with a hybrid engine, I mean PU.The Prius has been around for nearly 20 years, so it isn’t new technology. And the belief that there is a sizeable transfer of F1 technology to road cars, other than supercars, is bogus.

    The biggest mistake was not allowing unlimited development. If Renault and M-B really believed this technology was directly applicable in road cars they would have jumped at the chance to do their PU R&D in F1. They didn’t. It cost too much. R&D for road cars is better done by people who understand road cars – not racing cars. This bright new technology is as much a dead-end as the atmo’s they replaced. And those V8/ V10 / V12’s that spun up to 20,000 RPM sounded a hell of a lot better at a quarter of the cost.

    Politics and marketing – not racing.

    • Sums the situation up quite well, Cav. Grand Prix style racing has been undermined (for a variety of reasons), imo. +1

      No one (very few) even knew what ‘Thermal Efficiency’ was before the PR people desperately asked the engineers “how the phuck so we sell the new PU regs to the fans?”

      “Oh, but I marvel at the Thermal Efficiency…” Pfft, no you don’t.

    • Fully agree Cav
      Development has always been the key to success and frankly without it we are left with the mess we have today. Don’t get me wrong, Merc did an outstanding job and have brought something pretty special into the sport but I would have love to see a V10 at full speed wipe the floor with these PU. The problem that faced the teams was being unable to test and develop these unit, if Honda could have put the milage into the unit or Ferrari pour track time into pushing the technology then the playing field would have levelled but as we have seen, Merc introduced the mother of all systems and it was like a atom bomb in a spear war and the others just couldnt catch-up. I can see why Merc didn’t want change,who would in their position? They took the pain in the run up to change and took the decision to sacrifice two seasons so they could work on this system,the others were fighting for a championship after all, so it was always going to end this way. F1 is a prototype sport and if the management continue to stifle new ideas or limit the free thinking we will remain in this rutt, bring back a more relaxed regulations,dont limit engine allocation or design and allow new ideas to flow…that’s F1

      • I totally agree. If unlimited development had been allowed each manufacturer could have gone off in different directions and you’d have ended up with true purpose built racing engines as we had during the first turbo era. Nobody then seriously believed they were designing anything other than true race engines. Now Renault and M-B really want them for road car marketing. Todt wants them for his political agenda. Five years ago during the period of “hated” RB dominance five different drivers and three different teams won races. Now we have two drivers and one team that win races. Awesome.

  2. I have no problem with the hybrid engines. I started watching F1 in the 1960s, so have seen many engine types come and go, including gas turbines ( Lotus 56 iirc ) and the great turbo era of the 80s. No, my problem with today’s engines is that we are not allowed to see what they are really capable of as they are fuel limited. My other problems are too much reliance on aerodynamics with not enough mechanical grip and artificial racing with things like DRS. My preference would be to simplify the aero, possibly banning multi-element wings, and remove the fuel flow restriction. I would also like to see the rules change so that drivers are not penalised for engine problems. If a team has to use extra engines deduct 25 points from their constructors championship score, leave the driver alone.

  3. This criticism suffers from a severe case of 20/20 hindsight. It’s rather silly to pretend that all the consequences of the decisions made should have been clear at the time.

    • Yeah. Nah.

      I don’t think anyone here is saying that all the consequences should have been known – that’s clearly ridiculous.

      BUT, given that the FIA had to step in and throw a couple of buckets of equalisation around in the V10 era, you’d think that they might have considered the idea that one of the manufacturers would end up miles ahead of the field with the change to hybrids. Then, kinda, maybe insert a couple of clauses in the Tech Reg’s warning of the possibility of enforced levelling of the playing field if the racing sucks. Not much of a stretch to pick that particular consequence, I wouldn’t have thought.

      FWIW, besides the appalling lack of theatre and the stifling corporatism inherent in the push for hybrids, I’d be pretty ambivalent about the hybrid PU’s if they’d delivered close racing.

      I don’t see pure natural aspiration as any kind of Holy Grail. They sound great but they have no torque. Hybrids may be here now to satisfy MB and Renault, but the whole circus is underwritten by the wholly-sordid, plutocratic purveyors of hydrocarbon-based fuels. I count six of one and half a dozen of the other.

    • not true. i remember the complaints and insecurity when the hybrid idea was being thrown around. then the moment we heard those “PU”s there was a great general uproar about how shitty all of this was going to be.

  4. What about the days of the Red Car and Shumi? 4 or 5 guys could win??? What is Mr.e talking about. If ferrari isn’t winning he isn’t happy. Same with the 4 years of Seb dominance. Mr e is a Mechanical and Lewis hater. Can’t wait to see him go.

  5. It appears Mosley and Ecclestone think we should go back to “the good old days”, with accelerator, brake and clutch pedals, and a proper gear lever. But, the mechanic will have to sit on the driver’s lap now, and the man with the red flag running in front of the car will have to be Usain Bolt. We have been told dinosaurs are extinct, but that interview proves this is a lie.

  6. The difference between the Schumi, Vettel and Merc eras of dominance is just that – Schumi and Vettel made a class leading car win often, where as Merc have simply made a car (read: engine) that belongs in another class and anyone can win in it.

    You only need to look at team-mate performances over each period of dominance to see what I mean – and Rubens and Webber were no slouches!

  7. This website will do anything to peg any thing negative onto Bernie…

    “Mr Ecclestone has often been critical of these hybrid engine regs. But it is very hard to imagine that he had no say in that direction when he and his mate Max Mosley, the former FIA president, lead F1 into this era. ”

    If you go back and view history, you will see Bernie was against hybrids from day one, just Google it. It was very easy then to imagine pandering to the wants of the auto makers was going to give them more control over the sport, and using more expensive drive trains was going to increase the cost of racing. Some of the last things Bernie would want are auto makers with more control and teams needing more money. Common sense blinded by personal feelings here.

    The editors and writers of this place need to get a grip.

      • Absolutely. To begin with, it wouldn’t have mattered to Max. Max gave his reasoning for going this route, and from his perspective and reasoning it made sense. It trumped Bernie’s opinion. For Bernie all that was going to happen was more grief on his plate, and when looking at it from his perspective, for what? What do hybrids do for the viewers, sponsors and FOM? That has been a consistent message from Bernie since day 1.

        Why would have Bernie given this the green light? What did it serve him and FOM? Why would a guy always being hassled by the teams for more money green light something that was going to be hugely expensive for the teams, while providing no fiscal benefit to them or the sport? Why would Bernie want to put more power in the hands of the manufactures? What green agenda does Bernie have?

        • Ecclestone was initially in favour as he believed the new hybrid regs would draw in some large manufacturers like BMW, Audi, Ford, Hyundai, etc who would either buy up the small teams and rebrand them as their own, or essentially give the engines away to the smaller teams for marketing reasons, and thus take financial pressure off of FOM /CVC that the small teams were giving him. Needless to say that never happened, as those manufactures saw the technology as a financial money pit with little or no possible return.

  8. Can either of you play good journalist and provides some quotes from Bernie supporting that? I don’t see any in the article or your responses.

    I’ve used Google search specifying a time frame way back when and can’t find a thing… Just quotes of the opposite in fact. I also can’t find anything from Bernie about how it will bring in new car companies. I think perhaps you two are mixed up as to which top men at the time said what.

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