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Cosworth ‘has proof’ its engine is competitive
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Cosworth ‘has proof’ its engine is competitive
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Jul 2009   |  1:07 pm GMT  |  23 comments

In the midst of all the polemics over the 2010 rules and new teams, little has been heard from Cosworth, who will be supplying the engines for all three new teams.

But there are a lot of questions around Cosworth which need answering. Are they up to speed? Will the engines be reliable and competitive, seeing as they have not been in F1 since 2006? Have they got enough people? There have also been suggestions that having a Cosworth contract was an unspoken condition of getting an entry, so how does Cosworth feel about the way the entry process was handled?

I spoke this morning to Tim Routsis, chief executive of Cosworth and put these and other questions to him.

Cosworth has diversified since leaving F1 in 2006 to the point that none of its turnover is derived from motor sport. They have moved into aerospace and after-market automotive work.  Given Cosworth’s proud history in F1 it makes no sense for them to come back now and be uncompetitive. Frank Williams implied recently that he thought they would be. He felt that the manufacturer engines today were a big step ahead of the Cosworth he used in 2006 and on which the 2010 engine will be based.

Routsis says that his team has already carried out a test, which proves that the Cosworth engine will be competitive next season,

“There is no doubt that the teams have made some epically big strides over the last few years in terms of engine reliability, ” he says. “The two things that really matter are that we provide a reliable and competitive engine.

“We realised that there was no future for anybody if we rocked up with an uncompetitive engine. We wanted to verify that what we had made sense. So what we did was produce a complex model of the engine’s performance as it will be in 2010 and gave it to a third party agency with the largest body of data. We asked the question, ‘If you were to take all the results this year of the top three teams and substitute this engine into their cars, would it have affected the outcome of any of the races?’ Because that’s the ultimate measure of the competitiveness of the engine.

“The result that came back was that if the engine we are proposing for next year had been in any of the winning cars, the winning car would have still won. If it had been in any of the second place cars they would still have been second, or in one or two cases, would have won.”

From what I’ve heard about engines this year, one of those instances may have been Toyota’s second place in Bahrain. The Toyota engine is not believed to be on the same level as the Mercedes.

What helps Cosworth quite a bit is that because it has been outside F1, it is free to optimise its engine for the current regulations of 18,000 rpm maximum. It was originally built for the 20,000 rpm rules of 2006, but has undergone substantial internal changes.  The existing engines have all been retuned from the old 19,000rpm rules, with tight restrictions on areas they could work on, restrictions which don’t apply to Cosworth.

“It will be a lot more fuel efficient, it will obviously be retuned to the 18,000 rpm limit as opposed to the 20,000rpm limit and we are doing quite a lot of work to make sure that it is optimised to give a competitive engine, ” says Routsis. “So whilst you would be able to put the two engines side by side and see a family resemblance, there is a lot of difference in the detail.

“We are picking all of the things from the last three years that make sense and putting them in the engine.  We have been given the opportunity to do a proper retune. A lot of activity that our competitors have been carrying out in the last three years has been an enormous amount of focus on areas which they were allowed to deal with, which represent small gains for enormous effort. We are trying to make sure that the things we focus on are the ones which give the big gains. ”

Cosworth shed 200 people after it’s 2006 withdrawal but Routsis claims that “the core kernel of the brains trust” was kept, in other words the core engineering team is the same as before. However, he adds “There is no doubt that we need more people to service three teams and to that end we are recruiting at the moment in the areas of track support and engine build.”

As regards the cost to the customer, Cosworth is supplying 20 engines per team next year for £5 million,  according to the rules of 8 race engines per driver per season plus test engines. But the business model requires them to supply three teams and Routsis is expecting all three to honour their contracts. “We have very clear contracts with them and they expect us to honour our commitments and we expect that to be a reciprocal arrangement.”

There have been rumours that USF1 is thinking about using Toyota engines.

As for the controversy over the entry process, Routsis believes that the due diligence process the FIA carried out on the new teams was thorough and that high profile teams which failed to make the cut did so because they either didn’t have an engine contract in place, as the rules required, or were unable to prove adequate funding for a minimum of three years, despite what they may have implied about needing a Cosworth deal to win an entry.

The new teams selection process and by extension Cosworth, became embroiled in the ferocious political fight between FOTA and the FIA and as with any war, the first casualty is truth. No doubt in the coming months we will discover the truth about how the new teams were selected.

“There’s far too much emotion in the debate and in a lot of instances the issues have been lost sight of and it has become a personality debate,” says Routsis.

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23 Comments
  1. “So what we did was produce a complex model of the engine’s performance as it will be in 2010 and gave it to a third party agency with the largest body of data.”

    I’m assuming here that the “third party agency” is the FIA? I can’t see who else would be privilege to such information. So presumably all the manufacturers/engine builders have access to this data then.

  2. Todd says:

    Very nice insight James. Interesting story and detail on what many are wondering. Amid the punditry and allegations; just how competitive will Cosworth powered cars be in 2010 and what, if any, shortcomings are there?

    Keep up the great work.

  3. Nikko2 says:

    I imagine this third party re-writing of history would be flaky at the very best.

  4. Patrickl says:

    In the Spanish paper AS Adrian Campos claims that the Cosworth motor is a disaster.

    http://www.as.com/motor/articulo/formula-automovilismo-deportes/dasmot/20090718dasdaimot_3/Tes

    Guess they were hoping they could run the engine at 20,000 RPM under the more lenient budget cap regime. Of course the budget cap idea was scrapped, so now Cosworth is suddenly in a hurry to redesign their engine from 20,000 RPM to 18,000 RPM.

  5. rpaco says:

    Ahh, a complex model, what a great shame!

    There I was being so impressed and massively surprised, that they had already made an engine and tested it.

    There is a world of difference between designing something in a computer as a solid functional model and the real thing. The computer solid model is ideal for designing the parts, testing fits and strains etc. BUT it does not take account of the frailties of man, or the buggeration factor of machine tools, mills, castings etc. It assumes that all the components are perfectly made with the exact ideal metallurgic qualities as required from the model. In practice it never happens as planned.

    Having used computer solid modelling myself on a very modest scale on a small product of only 5 parts. The list of things that can go wrong with them is horrendously long. Of course the design FMEA (Failure Mode Effect Analysis) should help eliminate most of the possible ways of screwing it up, but there will always be more that were not allowed for. This means that there will necessarily be modifications to overcome the results of things not being perfect.

    They must have a massive super-computer to be able to run an engine model in real time in a program and be able to measure the output performance, heat dissipation, vibration, lubrication thickness’s etc.

    It does sound very much like the FIA loaded the dice very heavily in Cosworth’s favour. It was noticeable that James did not get a proper response in that area.

  6. Harveyeight says:

    I must admit to agreeing with FW, for which he will, no doubt, be relieved. There is no substitute for the harsh realities of competition to improve the breed. Mind you, given the nature of the three teams I would assume the failing of the engine might well be covered by those of the chassis and aerodynamics. And if, as seems possible, they’ve pulled the stakes out of the hearts of some older drivers, well there’s another excuse.

    2011 possibly and 2012 more likely I should say before Cosworth start to perform as we all would have hoped. Let’s face it, the cause of Cosworth’s departure was the fact that there were so many changes to the engine regs. They are likely to struggle.

    I would assume that they hope their contracts are watertight as I can sympathis with USF1′s wish for Toyota power.

  7. niceguyrichy says:

    Frank Williams was visibly biting his tongue when he was speaking about the cosworth engine on the beeb. he might as well just come right out and said ‘well from what I’ve seen of it it’s utter carp’
    its definately a worry for teh newbies, and its not exactly a walk in the park getting up and running in F1 to start with..

  8. Harveyeight says:

    The articles in the links contain reports that the EU may investigate the FiA/Mosley for the way the selection process was run.

    The original article is on the Pitpass website:

    http://www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_news_item.php?fes_art_id=38463

    written by Sylt, who’s day job is as freelance F1 buiness correspondent so one would assume that the informant (unknown to either man or beast) is authorative.

    However, the original ariticle carries a link at the end of the fourth para that is well worth clicking on. Fascinating.

    As with most of these threats of litigation one would assume that it will end in an ‘accommodation’, perhaps the three teams, or one of them, being allowed to leave the Cosworth fold and opt for something better. Like Toyota perhaps?

  9. sean says:

    Sorry not convinced they have known for a long time they were coming back You cant just drag an engine off a shelf then detune it and say we have tested it and we are just as good as the competition.Hope they have some good excuses for next year maybe they could use max as a spokesmen.

  10. DaveMcDave says:

    “Frank Williams was visibly biting his tongue when he was speaking about the cosworth engine on the beeb. he might as well just come right out and said ‘well from what I’ve seen of it it’s utter carp’”

    A bit harsh! Cosworth is a british company (owned by an American/Australian), with a great history.

    Maybe you should wait until the fat lady sings before making comment (she will be back around March next year).

    There is going to be very little difference between engines, its the car that makes the difference!

    Give them a break!!

  11. V10Lover says:

    The last iteration of the V-10 engine had a failure in Barcelona 2006 and it was supposedly a mature engine, detuned and RPM limited. Now Cosworth will take their V-8 and improve it with fewer staff and in catch-up mode. No problem!

  12. Adrian says:

    I have faith in the experts at Cosworth, who will be able to develop their 06 spec engine to bring it up to speed.

    I agree with those above who say that computer modelling is not the same as testing the real thing, but let’s not assume that the people at Cosworth are idiots – I’m sure they’re able to extract the useful data from their models.

    I wonder when they’ll have one in the back of a car pounding around a test track to test reliability etc..??

    Don’t forget that they’re not bound by testing limitations etc as they’re not competing this season.

    Which brings me onto an interesting question for James: If a new engine supplier wanted to enter the sport, what restraints would they have to comply to in the development of their engine – put another way, could they develop their engine to be superior to the other engines before it is “frozen” unpon their entry..??

  13. Dave P says:

    This is just more damming of the FIA and MAX. to state that they would be allowed 20,000 rpm to allow them to be competitive was just lies. Cosworth themselves now say they will definitely be competitive and that running at 18,000 may be an advantage…..

    I can’t help but think it was a mistake for FOTA not to set up their own series…. now with Jean Todt looming.. ( he was as bad and dogmatic as Max) that it will be really damaging in the longer term

  14. grat says:

    It seems that the Spanish article is essentially agreeing with both Williams and Cosworth– if they show up with the 2006 engine, the three teams using it are screwed.

    From this interview, though, it sounds like the engine that Cosworth is bringing to the table will be a much better engine than Williams used in 2006.

  15. Michael says:

    I am with Frank and not ideal for 2 years.

  16. lee in Farnborough says:

    Hi James

    Can you please tell me are the new teams allowed to test in anyway or do they also have to follow rules with no testing…

    thanks in advance

    lee

    1. James Allen says:

      Lee, they have to follow the same rules as everyone, as far as I am aware. That means winter testing mainly.

    2. James Allen says:

      Lee, as far as I know they have to follow the same rules

      1. lee in Farnborough says:

        Thanks for the reply james

  17. Mon Pen says:

    The proof of the pudding will surely be whether any existing customer teams will opt for Cosworth over their current Ferrari / Mercedes / Ferrari / Renault engines.

    Not holding my breath.

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