With all the goings on over the past few months in relation to the engine regulations for 2021, chess pieces are moving to give us a good indication of what lies ahead.
The main premise for these Power units will be that they are simpler, cheaper and noisier.
That’s the mandate from the FIA, and everyone concerned is currently working towards finalising the format. VW, Aston Martin and a few smaller firms such as Illmor and Ricardo Engineering have also been present at the meetings, designed to attract new names to the sport.
Red Bull, having had designs on making their own engines for sometime (a story broken here exclusively) have leveraged themselves by helping Aston Martin with their Valkyrie hypercar. This goodwill has capital for Red Bull, as it has initiated Aston Martins interest in being able to supply engines.
Andy Palmer of Aston Martin senses that opportunity: “There’s always that question, would you want to enter as a team? Our major competitor is Ferrari, so in that sense there’s a rationale in being involved in some way. But for a company that’s only just moved to making a profit we don’t have the 350-400 million a year that you have to spend on F1.”
“If there is a cap put on the number of people or the amount of money that you can spend on developing a new engine, and it’s at a reasonable level, we have a good reason to study it.”
But behind the study, we have Red Bull who can part fund the project to the tune of 20 million a year, the cost of their supply of Renault engines. And to be an exclusive partnership, Red Bull could be willing to pay more. Palmer knows this. And as Aston is now making money, it could ease the purse strings from investors in the pursuit of challenging Ferrari on track.
With uncanny timing, Mario Illien of Ilmor has come out publicly to offer their services:
“Obviously there is a desire to have the possibility for independent manufacturers to come in, That’s one reason I’m in the meetings, to see whether it’s going the right way for an independent.”
“Somebody has to fund the initial development costs, Customers are probably not the right way to go, that doesn’t pay for it. You probably need a manufacturer to support it”.
Illien is well aware Ilmor could not go it alone. Red Bull would also be unwilling to foot the entire bill on it’s own. However, Aston can rightly make a business case of being able to defeat it’s age old rival, Ferrari, with a supply deal to Red Bull. Ilmor design develop and build the engines, Aston Martin and Red Bull split the costs. It’s a symbiotic triumvirate that makes Red Bull independent of the established engine suppliers, It brings Aston Martin into F1 with a modest financial outlay, and it makes Ilmor relevant again, which is exactly what Illien wants.
The alignment is far too good for this to be mere speculation. Ilmor already have experience of working with Red Bull, and Red Bull have experience of working with Aston Martin. This is made to happen.