F1 Winter Break
Austerity comes to Formula One
Austerity comes to Formula One
Posted By:   |  10 Dec 2008   |  5:47 pm GMT  |  11 comments

Just arrived in a rainy and chilly Monaco for what will be a momentous couple of days for the sport.

It’s weirdly appropriate that this humbling of F1, the death knell of the era of decadence and excess, should happen in Monaco, which has long symbolised the wealth and glamour, with which F1 is synonymous.

This will be a strange journey for all of us, coming to terms with the new ‘austerity F1’, but here are a few notes at this early stage.

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One thing that hasnt been mentioned during this whole "standard engine" issue is the equalisation process. Lets say that Ferrari make an engine to the new rules and it is tested for "power" by the FIA/Cosworth and it is on the money or a little less powerful than the Cosworth unit but the torque curve is as flat as the kitchen table would this not give Ferrari an advantage??. What got me thinkning about this was something that was quoted to Geoff Willis of RBR. He said that teams would invest in producing a rear wing/diffuser design expressly to disrupt airflow to the new large front wing. so maybe the next battle ground is making the engine way more drivable (i know thats what they try for now but peak power is still really important) within the power cap. Also the point you hit on about if Ferrari being penalised potetially if they win loads of races with their own engine. How do they police the efficiency ofthe Kers devices (how to mandate only 60KW ouptut??)


You've just summarized quite nicely why the spec engine is a horrible idea, no matter how one looks at it.

Mosley needs to quit pushing through rule changes that end up costing the manufacturers more money - particularly when they're made without any proper thought of the consequences. Rules stability save money, not changing the rules on a weekly basis to suit Max's latest mental hiccup.

If the FIA wants to tender a third party to make a customer engine that's freely available to teams for an affordable price, that's fine. Don't cap the power though, and don't require the teams to buy / mimic that customer engine. If the provider of that customer engine wants as many customers as possible, they'll develop it and keep it current. It might not be the cutting edge, but it'll be somewhere nearby, good enough to do the job and keep the teams using it in the game.

The customer engine should be solely a stop-gap to help teams survive - and the teams who put the effort into designing something on their own *deserve* to be able to profit from it.

Make the engine spec, and you might as well make the rest of the car spec too - because I simply won't be watching F1 any more.


As long as "the brand" generates that extra sponsorship or sales then a few extra mill on your own engine may just be a good investment....

Or you may translate it to your road cars.... or people may believe you do...

Perception is all....

But heaven forbid that you fall behind a team with a standard engine....

Interesting times... and, we hope, the return of the non manufacturer "privateer"....

Much more fun...


I'd prefer to see a solution whereby every engine manufacturer made their own engine, but on the understanding that, should they have to, they would be able to supply that unit to X percent of the grid. This would have the desired cost-cutting effect - no-one would dare make a hugely expensive engine if in the back of their mind was the possibility they may have to supply half of the field with it - whilst retaining the element of technical challenge essential to Formula 1 as we know it.


Ok suppose the Ferrari engine is too powerful when measured, how do they proceed? Restrict the air intake maybe as in lower formulae? But then it would be easier to ensure longevity if the engine were designed "over power" but then de-rated to meet the regs. This would give an advantage over other teams using the cozzie engine.

How are you going to measure power? Obviously on a Dyno but at what revs? Or are you going to take an integral of the whole area under the line? Will torque be limited as well? If so at what revs? Or again is it to be an integral?

Better to ban re-fuelling then a choice would need to be made between range and speed. KERS could obviously extend range.


Formula 1 isn't Formula 1 without constructors having the option to build their own engine. It will just become another series with spec cars.

As someone who lives in Canada, I find it galling that Bernie Ecclestone can try to extort more money from promoters to hold the Canadian Grand Prix, and then Max Mosley complains that the teams costs are too high.

The withdrawl of sponsors due to a global recession will eventually force teams to cut costs or perish.


As much as Ferrari talk up their disliking for standardised engines I actually think they're likely to go for a Cosworth standardised engine. I can't see why not.

They could have tendered for the contract but of course the likes of Mercedes would never have gone for it. Much like Ferrari definitely wouldn't if a the standardised engine was Mercedes built..

So Cosworth is surely the best compromise out there? A mass of experience and knowledge in F1. Proven skill and reliability. Used by a long list of teams over the years. Using a Cosworth engine wouldn't taint the Ferrari image or better anyone elses on the grid.

Standardised engines is undoubtedly a temporary solution to a financial problem. Once the global economy is healthy again in maybe 5 years time and F1 has 12 teams you can be sure the likes of Ferrari will be first in line to build their own engines again.


Ed seems to have hit the nail on the head, FUEL is the answer to all this spec nonsense. There is a finite amount of power that can be developed from a certain amount of fuel. that would limit all engines no matter who made them. That limit can then be reduced every year to reflect advances in other technology

secondly, if Cosworth does supply an engine, perhaps that should be used as a building block rather than the finished article, and whatever efficiencies or improvements the teams can make, they can claim its their engine expertise that is doing it. This allows the engineers to play with the cool bits, but the boring stuff like engine blocks, crankshafts etc are all standard. This will mean teams can buy the cheap engine and tune it to suit.

I also particularly like the idea that if any team has a breakthrough they have to offer it for sale next year at a capped amount - isnt there a racing series where you have to sell your car to another competitor if they make you a sensible offer?


Another solution has come to light today via the FIA strangley enough. In the specs for MOTO2 (which is going to replace 250cc in a couple of years) is the option to "claim" an engine from another team for $20000. so the answer is if Ferrari win loads of races any team can claim the engine for 930K euros (which is 18 races/ 3 race engines/5.6M per season for the "standard" engine).

Then if Ferrari produce an engine that costs 2-3M a piece and most of the field "claim" it for 930K then they will lose tons of cash.


Without touching on the whole "cost/expense" issue my personal preference for engines would be a set fuel limit per race with it reduced by a certain percentage every year. It would be great to hear while watching the race "And xxx has just set a 1:25:3 and that's half a second faster than the fastest lap last year with 5% less fuel!"


spec engines is a disaster - it will almost certainly be in addition to other spec parts like suspension, floor and brakes that. with no performance differentiator, why should any manufacturer be involved. i think it's fairly obvious why ferrari did not choose to tender for the standardised engine. they want to show that their engine is the best. when you take away competition, what's the point of competing?

the simple answers are normally the best. therefore, as has been said above:

1) manufacturers can spend what they want on engine development but must make the same current engine available for $5m a piece (or whatever) to the independants. this will dissuade them from throwing too much money at it.

2) open up the tight restrictions (which Max has now admitted have been the cause of the spiralling budget, with teams chasing the smallest incremental gains) and use a fixed and limited amount of fuel per race. do with it what you like. how great would it be to see various size V8s, V10's, V10's, 4cyl turbos etc all battling it out.

as well as saving money, you get a genuine economy race instead of the green farce that is KERS.

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