The new era of F1 is just around the corner. Regulations for 2021 is in the process of being finalised, yet manufacturers and motorists are already shifting their focus beyond that – The topic of discussion is the new generation of hybrid engines.
Whilst Greta Thunberg is effectively knocking on the doors of the F1 Circus with her statements on climate change, the car manufacturers involved in Formula 1 claim they have to take notice.
With that, the echo of the deeds of the 16-year-old Swedish activist has now arrived among the hospitality areas of the F1 whose quest to remain relevant and keep sponsors interested is actually starting to gain traction.
And there are those in F1 who fear to be left behind in a world that, with surprising speed, is embracing the green revolution.
The current regulations for V6 hybrids started in 2014 and updated in 2017. A further refinement is planned with the introduction of the new 2021 regulation, to lead to the dawn of the 2025 season to re-discuss the entire powertrain package.
According to Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul, the championship risks losing relevance unless it starts to plan a formula more relevant to the future of road cars.
“If I look at the pace with which the world is changing, there is a huge risk that F1 will remain in the past.
“Things that are said today, six months ago would not even have been taken into account. Even Ferrari is talking about a fully electric car!
“Whatever our opinion on electrification, it won’t go away. I’m urging everyone to outline a new power unit as soon as possible – what it should be, how it should be, and how much it should cost.
“Above all, we must stop spending crazy sums of money, and invest in what will be relevant for the future.”
Abiteboul believes that in the future the balance of motor parts will have to move even further in favour of electric. This would mean at some point slowing down the investment in the internal combustion engine, to increase the development of electrical parts.
“We must also consider new sources of energy, such as the fuel cell, which are likely to be the future of F1. Immediately, we will structure a plan for the progressive freezing of the engine and a reduction in the number of specifications per year, so as to prepare the ground for a new power unit in 2026.”
“I realise it’s seven years from now, it seems a distant horizon. But I don’t just think of myself, I think of F1 as a community.”
Toto Wolff for his part seems more oriented to maintain the current formula, unsurprisingly. That said, when questioned he is also convinced that the discussion about the future cannot be postponed for long.
“We would be keen, together with FIA and Liberty Media, to maintain the current formula.
“It is a very efficient hybrid power unit that we are able to deliver on the road.
“However, the world is changing, we have millions of people on the streets demonstrating for climate change.
“Sustainability has become more important to us at Daimler than just a marketing tool. Sustainability needs to happen.
“The hybrid component has to be basically predominant now, and that’s something we’re looking at because of course there are additional costs involved. We are thinking about the 2025 PU, how it might look. The world is changing faster than in the past, and we have to take that into account.”
Change is coming, whether you like it or not. So Greta pushed the UN assembly. And F1 seems intent on not being left behind, whether fans like it or not.