With just over two years to go before the new Formula One power units are introduced the race to deliver the most powerful new car is on. Red Bull have publicly stated their modelling is so advanced they believe the exact specification of the new power units should be tweaked following unforeseen side effects of the FIA specifications.
The last time F1 introduced new power units was in 2014 and Mercedes proved to come out of the three year development phase miles ahead of their competition. However, then funds and resources were unlimited in the development process but the FIA has learned from Mercedes’ mega budget thrown at the V6 hybrids and restricted the resources the new power unit manufacturers can deploy.
Horner reveals new F1 engine concerns
Christian Horner recently called on the FIA to tweak the regulations which at present provide for 50% of the power to be electrical and the rest from the internal combustion engine (ICE).
The Red Bull boss is concerned the regulations will force them to create a “Frankenstein’s monster” with the ICE at times being used merely as a generator for the electrical store.
The world champions simulations appear to reveal on the faster circuits like Monza and Spa, the car runs out of battery on the pong straights and so the driver will be forced to drop a gear to increase the charge before the corner.
“To me, it looks pretty terrible,” said Verstappen. “I mean, if you go flat-out on the straight at Monza, I don’t know what it is, like four or five hundred [metres] before the end of the straight, you have to downshift flat-out because that’s faster.”
Verstappen says its “pretty terrible”
“I think that’s not the way forward. Of course, probably that [Monza] is one of the worst tracks [to test on].”
When asked for his thoughts on Christian Horner’s suggestion the FIA tweak the regulations so that the electrical power is 40-45%, Toto Wolff replied, “That’s not going to happen. Zero chance. Capital letters. So I don’t know why these things are coming up.”
He went on to mock the Red Bull boss suggesting their team’s engine programme was “failing.”
Helmut Marko responded to the Mercedes team principal claiming, “in August, we are still running a complete combustion engine with MGU-K and battery. We are miles ahead of Audi, we are miles ahead of Ferrari, and Mercedes is about the same.”
Ferrari accuses Red Bull of “games”
Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur has now responded to the Red Bull claim about his team’s progress on their new F1 power unit.
“It’s a game,” Vasseur told assembled media when asked for a response to the claim, “And I don’t want to make any comments on the situation of the others.
“We are pushing, I think we are in a good situation for sure.
“We always want to do more, to develop more, to be more in advance, to have more options and so, but it’s the same for everybody.
“And honestly, I will avoid making any comment on the situation of the others.”
Fred Vasseur under pressure
Vasseur has appeared prickly in a number of recent interviews and is clearly feeling the heat form above as the Scuderia languishes in fourth place in the championship.
The man who replaced Mattia Binotto this year as Ferrari team principal recently made fresh claims about Red Bull cheating again in a rant that appears to be deflecting attention from how poorly Ferrari are performing.
Red Bull either RIGHT or WRONG
The curious thing about the Christian Horner’s warnings of a “Frankenstein’s monster” Is either Red Bull simulations are correct and the balance between the ICE and the electrical power source is incorrect AND the other teams don’t realise it – OR Red Bull have got it completely wrong.
This situation is reminiscent of 2008 when the new FIA regulations for 2009 were designed to massively reduce the downforce on the cars. Ross Brawn spoke out in an FIA technical steering committee meeting telling his peers he felt the regulations would fail in their intention. He was ignored by the rest.
Brawn GP went on to develop the double diffuser which gave the car more downforce than its competitors and saw Jenson Button and his team mate Ruben Barrichello dominate the 2009 season with the British driver claiming the drivers’ world title and Brawn GP becoming constructor champions.
Just because Red Bull are at present a voice alone in the dark, does not mean they are the ones in the wrong.
Vassuer defends Ferrari progress
Fred Vassuer concluded his briefing by stating he was happy with Ferrari’s progress on the new power unit.
“We are following the plan and we are a bit in advance on the plan. All okay on our side,” he said.
Christian Horner has now responded to Wolff’s reaction and criticism of the Red Bull power unit programme.
”Unfortunately that’s typically Toto where he’s just focused on self-performance,” the Red Bull boss said. “My interest is actually about the sport rather than self-gain.
“It’s still way too early to say who’s going to have a competitive or uncompetitive engine in 2026… for me the most important thing is from a sports point of view, that we all have a collective responsibility to work with the FIA and the commercial rights holder to ensure that the product is as good as it can be, otherwise we’ve all failed.”
Red Bull acting to ‘common good?’
And whilst the skeptics amongst us find it difficult to believe any Formula One team would act for the gain of the collective, Horner’s point appears valid.
He claims Red Bull are preventing everyone from heading down the rabbit hole where nobody can find an optimum solution to the targets set by the FIA initially.
Red Bull will back themselves whatever the regulations state to deliver a competitive power unit after the debacle they had with Renault for years after the V6 hybrids were introduced.
Wolff had argued that the regulations as set by the FIA had succeeded in their target because of the new power unit manufacturers like Audi who have joined the sport.
Horner claims regulations lead to inevitable end
However, Horner counters, ”the regulations are a hybrid of what was originally intended, and of course it’s only as you work through a set of regulations that you find out where their limitations are.
“I think the FIA is being very responsible in terms of doing its due diligence, and I think certain teams share very similar opinions to that of our own. I think they have a capable team, I think they’re aware of what the challenges are.”
There is still time for the FIA to tweak the 2026 power unit specifications and it would not require a unanimous vote of agreement from the manufacturers.
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 22, 2023