The end is near
Yas Marina 2017
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
No “equalising” of engines for 2010
No “equalising” of engines for 2010
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Jan 2010   |  4:09 pm GMT  |  105 comments

There will be no re-tuning of the engines competing in Formula 1 this season, after extensive discussions on ways of equalising engines drew a blank.

The Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault engines will all be as they were in 2009. The V8 engines in use in F1 at the moment are all frozen in specification, with no performance developments allowed. However manufacturers are allowed to request changes in the interests of reliability.

In that process, some changes were made which definitely improved performance, so by the end of 2008 there was quite a difference in performance between the best and worst performing engines.

The FIA ruled that Renault, which had been left behind, would be allowed to retune its engine to bring it up to the level of the others.

This season the same thing happened again. According to analysis we ran on this site in November, the spread of engine power from the best to the worst engines this year was around 2.5%. This means that, if the Mercedes is believed to have had 755hp, the least powerful engine was 18hp down, which is worth just under 3/10ths of a second per lap.

This time the FIA proposed that if the teams were unhappy then they should sort it out themselves, but it could only be on the basis of the best engine being detuned. Mercedes were very unhappy with this and there was some scepticism about the whether the Renault was as down on power as it was being suggested, especially as Red Bull won six races. After extensive discussions got nowhere, the FIA is believed to have ruled that the engines will stay as they are with no re-tuning.

It is worth remembering that “equivalence” isn’t actully required in the rules, just no performance development. So getting exactly equal engines is not something the FIA has to be seen to pursue.

Red Bull were keen on a move to Mercedes power for 2010, but met with resistance from McLaren and Brawn and also from powerful voices within Red Bull itself. So they will remain with Renault. But this is no bad thing; it is worth remembering that they won the last three races of last season, so the engine clearly wasn’t struggling.

And perhaps more important, performance isn’t going to be the holy grail in races this season; fuel efficiency is, due to the new rule outlawing refuelling. The Renault is the most fuel efficient engine in the field, so the Red Bull team can budget for a smaller fuel tank, which improves weight distribution and aerodynamics and they will carry a lighter fuel load at the start of the race. Every 3 kilos of fuel they carry less than their rivals will help them by a tenth of a second per lap. That could be decisive this year.

Adrian Newey said today that McLaren and Brawn blocked RBR from having the Mercedes engines. The team also evaluated Cosworth. But I have a feeling that they will do just fine with the Renault this year.

This story has been written in response to a number of questions posted on the site by readers wanting to know what’s going on with equalising engines. Thanks to them for suggesting it.

Featured News
Editor's Picks
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

I have looked at the fuel efficiency of the engines in 2009 on my blog here:

It's "Best Guesstimate" stuff, but it is still interesting seeing that the Ferrari is the most thirsty and they have not been allowed to equalise this weakness.

I suspect that you are right James, because Red Bull will do well in a Formula which is less about sprinting and power and more about fuel economy...


That was really good insight.


Gavin, did McLaren get better fuel mileage than Brawn and Force India last year because of KERS?


That I cannot tell from the data. It could be a number of factors:

1) KERS use saves a little fuel (though I doubt that because it is used as a power boost); or

2) The 'manufacturer teams' had better aero efficiency (which I doubt because McLaren and Renault both struggled this year); or

3) The drivers were better with throttle management and therefore fuel use.

Personally I think it is a combination of factors, but I am just guessing here. If anyone else has any ideas why some teams with the same engine got better fuel consumption than others I will be happy to hear them! 😉


What about differences between team-mates?


These are all very good ideas and must have played a part too.

Great stuff guys!


The gearbox might have had something to do with it.

By the way wasn't Ferrari retuning this years engine for better fuel economy? I remember reading that somewhere.


Great blog - and a really interesting topic in the run up to the 2010 season 🙂

Possibly the other running gear on the cars makes a difference - at least some customer teams use their own gearbox, I think.

Also, cooling and other "installation" related factors might make a difference - customer teams may have less optimal cooling, airflow to the intakes, exhaust routing, etc., all of which could lead to using the engine slightly differently - e.g. running a richer mixture if the cooling is marginal.


Would having a heavier car use up more fuel than that of a lighter one. Due to Ferrari being at the back a lot of the time it will have meant going longer on the first stint. Could this make a difference


Well it's down to fuel of course. I don't know if Brawn used mobil 1 or if torro rosso used shell and so on.

Engine is optimized for manufacturer's fuel partner.


Gavin, from your figures it looks like Red Bull will need 0.8 Kg of fuel per lap less than Ferrari and Brawn, so 5.6 Kg less for a seventy lap race. This means that Red Bull are potentially 0.2 seconds per lap quicker at the start of the race than Ferrari and Brawn. Very useful providing they qualify at the front and make good starts.

You make the point that engine manufacturers seem to get better consumption than their customers. Could it be that Brawn will get lighter consumption than McLaren in 2010?

Opposite Lock (Ken)

Very interesting blog Gavin. Especially the disparity between the fuel economy of the works versus customer engines. I would have thought that the McLaren was such a dog that they would have had to use more wing to make it drivable. Thus increase drag and lower fuel mileage. (What is the equivalent of mileage in the metric system? "Klickage?" Fascinating that the Brawn had much poorer fuel economy. Thanks for posting the link.



Fuel efficiency as you point out is going to be extremely important this year, but do you have some actuall figure on the difference in consumption of the different power plants?

I believe the average is about 0.75L per km

are Cosworth not at an advantage having been able to work on theirs?


Is it fair to say that the Ferrari is the LEAST efficient engine on the grid? It certainly seemed to be in Spa last year.


With everyone so close the engine could be the deciding factor due to fuel efficiency or power.

Can you make up such ground purley by aeordynamics if you engine is down on power? Its a big disadvantage.

Also if you can get better efficiency like the renault surely the others will always have to carry more fuel and either qualify lower or put less fuel in and stop earlier. Renault engined cars could be the ones to beat this year!


"With everyone so close the engine could be the deciding factor due to fuel efficiency or power."

Interesting since the engine is supposed to an area of non-competition.


Hi James,

Thanks for the insight. Shouldnt we view the BHP figures along with Torque and RPM at which the max power is delivered to comment on the engine superiority?

Btw who is supplying the non BMW, BMW-Sauber team with Engines? wouldn't it be even more insulting for BMW if say if it is BMW-Sauber-Mercedes or BMW-Sauber-Renault? Or do you think the team will be renamed before it makes it to the grid?


Unless Peter Sauber can get the name changed, you'll see two funny BMWSauber-Ferrari cars on grid.


Just read on the internet that BMW and Daimler are speaking to each other to increase cooperation so I guess its not that far fetched


The Sauber team have already confirmed to have a deal with Ferrari for 2010 engine supply.


I don't understand the FIA on this matter - I thought that, by bringing efficiency to the fore (by the introduction of a common fuel load) the FIA were incentivising teams to make technical advances that contribute to real world problems whilst still keeping the sport at the forefront of performance? Surely this is counter-productive?

Notwithstanding, freezing development for some teams but allowing a team that is behind to 'catch-up' is a ridiuculous notion in a sport that is meant to stand for excellence.... I despair at the FIA


The power/torque difference is easily made up by the difference in drag. AS you said Red Bull won races.

This year tyres and brakes may well be more critical than engine power.


oh dear scrub that and post this one with the spellings corrected please 🙂

Great article….

James what are your feelings on the Cosworth CA2010 ?

I have this strange feeling they will surprise many this year – I have looked around for any recent news on their developments but have found none – any updates would be appreciated.

Is it the case that with there ability to develop right upto the first race they could actually have an engine producing 800bhp and the other teams could do nothing about it ?

Is the CA2010 based on the engine they had when they were last in F1 – the one that was the first i think to exceed 20,000 RPM ?

Stephen Kellett JAF1

So getting exactly equal engines is not something the FIA has to be seen to pursue.

No such thing really. Just because the peak power is the same doens't mean the power curves are the same or the torque curves are the same. Depending on what you are doing, one engine design will always have the edge on another.

F1 seems to be all about max power at max revs and most of the power is right at the top end. Is that really the best way to design an engine? Wouldn't you be better off with most of your power for a much wider rev range?

I think there is more to this than meets the eye, as the type of circuit you are racing on and how close you can get to the car in front will greatly affect whether that wider rev range could be used/would be useful.

So, I guess for now we'll be stuck with the current engine design philosophy.


Well said, peak power may not be the deciding factor. It's torque you need over a range, the power is then largely an incidental function of the revs, and the rotating mass, with the max at the top revs, however by then torque has started to fall away. Ideally the two curves cross near the top.

Need to look up my old engine lab reports, bet no one has even heard of a planimiter these days. (strange device with wheels and pointers, used to be used for measuring the area in a combustion gas pressure loop graph to calc the input power, then calc using log log slide rules obviously. Ee if yao ad told os then that compooters would do it all for os, we'd ad fort yao was nots. )

Then there was the Brake by which one measured the output "brake" horsepower, that is if no one had got the brake weights out of balance and ripped the restraining chain out and the rev counter was actually working. Then it was but a few hours of slide rule and head scratching before it was decided that the measured results made no sense and someone had got oil on the flywheel, then the wheel and the brake belt had to be cleaned and the whole thing started again. Dynos, pha! Dont know they're born!


I read in a book a very good phrase on this

"HP sells cars.. Torque wins races.."

Stephen Kellett JAF1

Whenever I speak in the "yau'm not from raund ere am yau?" dialect my girlfriend gives me dirty looks and tells me not to do it again.


"There’s a reason the cars are still accelerating in 7th when they get to the end of a straight, so torque cant be much of a problem on the upper end of the rev range."

Yes in fact that's rather my point, the torque curve tends to flop over before the power. You need to set the gear ratios so that you are still on the upward incline of the torque curve when you are flat in 7th.

Ah if you used the P-V graph cylinder then maybe you did use a planimeter on it.

We did lots of gas engines and superheated steam as well, not to mention "An electron enters and electrostatic field with differential of x at a speed of y. etc" and too many star-delta transforms.


Did some lab tests on an old 1.5 storey diesel engine during my mech eng degree. Sadly I've forgotten the specs of that thing, but remember it having a little mechanical "print out" device for the P-V diagram!

Back to the power/torque story, I'd argue that power is the more relative. Yes, torque is the rotary force that turns the wheels (and is more readily related to the physical functioning of the engine), but how fast the wheels turn is also a necessary and significant measure. You can adjust gear ratio to fit your torque needs - i.e. F1 cars have lots of gears to keep in their narrow torque bands. There's a reason the cars are still accelerating in 7th when they get to the end of a straight, so torque cant be much of a problem on the upper end of the rev range.

You sound like an engineer so maybe you would argue otherwise?



What does this mean to the teams that have picked Cosworth engines, Williams in particular? Wasn't there an argument that the equalization works to Cosworth's advantage as they come to the scene?


So they are going to leave it for now, but when you say that "It is worth remembering that “equivalence” isn’t actully required in the rules, just no performance development"

it is clear that Mercedes has without doubt gained in performance over the past couple of seasons, so why have they not been brought up in front of the World council for this? It either means that there has been no changes to the engine at all (which is known not to be the case) or the FIA don't want to put Mercedes nose out of joint in light of the rush of manufacturers who have left so far. Either they need to have a short Development cycle so teams/engine suppliers can get their motors up to speed an then have a Freeze again with no development allow period. Or just unfreeze the engines and allow full on development again. Perhaps a combination of the two would work I.E Allow development off season and then freeze the engines at the first race of the season and not allow any development or changes till the season is over.


Pretty sure that no development of engines does not prevent fettling.

Improvement of fits, finer, smoother surfaces, individual part selection, less friction on the same parts. All adds up to less power lost in the engine.


The engines are inspected and sealed by the FIA, so no fettling can be done.

developments are allowed if the manufacturer can convince the FIA that it is for reliability, rather than performance. However you can be sure that all reliability upgrades will include a small performance upgrade..


James, what does this ruling mean for Cosworth?

Are they allowed to jump in with an engine of whatever maximum horsepower they can muster? (Assuming they can create enough extra power to more than off-set the fuel penalty it could be seen as an advantage couldn't it?).


Yes, they have worked hard to make it competitive right up to the deadline


Thank you. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on Williams when all these pieces fall into place! I really hope Williams, Rubens and Cosworth can spring a few surprises... they all have points to prove and 2010 could be their best chance for a long time.



So FIA decided they aren't gonna interfere into governing the sport because they are too busy trying to ban Briatore?


Anybody has any idea how much more fuel efficient Renault is?

It would be interesting to know how much less fuel Renault will start the race with, and how much benefit that would give them.


Dear James,

Do you think that Brawn would have had the same success if they still had a Honda engine in the back?

In 2008 the Honda engine was one of the weakest on the grid.

Would be interesting if that was ever talked about around the paddock.



I think this was answered before or perhaps on another site. The general opinion was that they would not have won the championship. Perhaps a few races but the engine was well behind the Mercedes. Brawn were very impressed when they swapped it.


Great website, and my first comments here.

I understand that the cars will weigh the same before the race with ballast making up the remainder. Doesn't that negate the advantage gained with having lower fuel weights?


No, the cars will all weigh 620Kg including driver without fuel on board.

The start weight of the cars will vary according to the amount of fuel required. By the end of the race all teams will be hoping that the car weighs 620.1Kg, but this will obviously vary according to how economical the driver was.

in Oz, how many cars will run dry in the final couple of laps of the race?


Well, it would be unfair to give the most fuel efficient engine some tuning time to give it the same power as the others, especially given the rules.

I could see Renault engines doing very well this year...



how decisively beneficial is the Renault's supposed fuel consumption? Will they not be stuck behind other cars at the start of the race due to the superior speed of McLaren, Mercedes or Ferrari in qualifying? We know how difficult it is to overtake.

Chris Walkingshaw

Where will this leave the teams running the Cosworth engine? Very thirsty and down on power insiders say...


Not sure about the renault being down on power of only 18 hp is that material (surely not 3/10ths?).

Surely the characteristics of the engine (torque curve, economy and driveability) are equally as important as ultimate power.

I fully appreciate the need for economy in these harsh times, but where is the technical innovation in F1.

Reading all of your blogs James about engine technology in future, I just wonder how much of that will actually be allowed to happen. Change and new technology seem to be stamped out as soon as they sneak in under the radar.

The FIA need to have a shake up and remember what F1 is supposed to be all about. Innovation, pushing the boundaries and so on are not purely about money (double diffuser was about interpretation of the rules).

They will be banning CFD and simulators next. Its very frustrating that the only innovations allowed are for safety (which are great - none of us want to see any more fatalities in F1).

It is in danger of becoming like Indycar. 3 Engines, substantially the same chassis and aero (because the rules are so narrow everyone ends up with the same solution).


"This time the FIA proposed that if the teams were unhappy then they should sort it out themselves".

FOTA, they act like they're in a sit-com.

Montezemolo would make a good Basil Faulty though.


"'Faulty?' what's wrong with him?":D

The name's spelling is 'Fawlty'...

Sorry, couldn't resist - in every other sense, we agree!


I too think RBR will be well served by Renault. The reliability-problems Vettel had last year should be solved (ie. what not to do when installing the engine in the car).


James I note that comentators often mention that Renault has the most fuel efficient engine... that is really not true at all.

It is only efficient because it is down on power... there is a relationship there..

Of course if the had more power they would use more fuel... its just that they couldn't extract that last bit of power from the engine they have ...

So all this talk of it helping them next season is totally invalid. If Mercedes want more economy they can simply detune and have whatever size tank they want... the advantage they have... and this is the real point is that by turning a dial when necessary, they can bring the power back online... Renault cannot do that, they are stuck with what the have.

It a simple equation really more power more fuel, less power less fuel..


it doesn't necessarily follow that poorer power gives better fuel economy. in fact, a more efficient burn will produce more power and improve fuel economy.

however, up until this point, engine manufacturers have been working with their fuel partners to extract every last bit of power from their engines, and fuel consumption has been a very distant concern. now that's changing and it's not beyond the capability of any manufacturer or their fuel partner to develop something that concentrates more on 'economy' (and also increasing fuel density, in order to reduce the volume of the fuel tank), especially with the relaxing of the fuel regulations for this year.

as for mixture strength, engines will be run on the dyno's with full lambda control and this will feed the ECU so they have all the data they need in advance about the fuelling required to hit their targets. they normally also run full lambda sensors (i.e. one per cylinder) in free practise to double check the numbers, but then take them off for qually and the race to save weight.


Interesting and very comprehensive reply... thanks..

However, some points about your reply.

I was not saying that 'poorer power equates to more economy' per say... I am sure the Guru's at Mercedes and Renault are fully aware of what you say... and evidently Renault got the maximum power they could from their fuel engine combination whilst maitaining their reliabilty.... but if that is the case, the simple laws of physics state power in is equal power output plus losses. Thus given similar losses and maximum efficiency from the engine (as tuned by the engine Guru) then less power equals less fuel. Now given that running an engine leaner will lead to greater heat generation ans thus problems with reliability, Renault ended up less power...

Going back to my statement earlier, if the Mercedes is a better package ( due in general to less losses be in whatever form they take) then They have the ability to detune (control power output) and maximise fuel economy or instead re-optimmise for power even during a race, lap, or corner and go back to the gain over Renault they had.

Thus Merecedes is still sitting pretty. Ferrai are of course in the worst position as although they can achieve similar BHP to Mercedes they do this at a fuel cost relating to the inefficiencies whithin their engine.


Adding to the complexity, a richer fuel mixture can also be used to help engine cooling..


Yes, but being able to run lean will be key this year


In the lower racing series a mechanic take out a spark plug watch the color of the burned parts and determined how richer or leaner the mix should be.... in f1 how does this happen? i assume by a sensor in the exhaust or something, but does adjust automatically if weather changes?


It is all about proportions. The word ‘efficient’ is a relative world. What is meant is that the proportionate gain from lower fuel consumption is greater than the proportionate disadvantage in hp. Last season the FIA published weights after Q3 and based on this info it was easy to predict when a driver would pit. It was often the case that the Renault cars, whilst not being last, went a few laps more than predicted.


That is a given, the point is that by reducing power output, Mercedes can be in the same position in fuel economy as Renault... maybe even better... they just chose not to do it last year, now they have a choice whereas Renault do not,


But thats my exact point most comentators- journalists - are not taking your point about it being hard to judge - they are just saying the Renault is more fuel efficient and that they will have an advantage there next year.. when its not that simple


"That is a given, the point is that by reducing power output, Mercedes can be in the same position in fuel economy as Renault… maybe even better… "

...or maybe worse. A if they reduced fuel consumption by say 3% (picking a number out of thin air) they could lose proportionaltely more power making it less powerful than Renault's. You may be right, you may be wrong. Without seeing the engine performance graphs for specific fuel consumption vs. power laid on top of each other we can only guess.

Opposite Lock (Ken)

Thanks for posting this James. It answers several questions I had. I think the Cosworth teams are gong to be in real trouble die to the fuel efficiency factor. Not to mention all of the "reliability"improvements that have been made by the other engine manufacturers. I hope I'm wrong.


Well, that's good news for Mercedes-powered teams and bad for Ferrari really as they have the most fuel-consuming engine. RBR will be fine, but certainly are not at an advantage since what they gain in fuel efficiency, they lose in performance anyway, so it balances out already with the Mercedes engine. If RBR were so happy with the overall performance and reliability of the Renault engine, then they would not have waited so long to try and get a Mercedes engine. Clearly, McLaren and Brawn played it cleverly in blocking RBR having the Mercedes engine.


James, am I right in thinking that cosworth hasn't been tied to all the regulations regarding no development. And therefore, could have the most powerful unit from the off???

There has been talk of fuel economy issues I know, but this in itself could throw up all sorts of interesting scenarios.


Here's a thought. Cosworth.

Surely given their ability to do anything they want to their engine there is a chance they could have leap frogged all the other engine builders.

They're a highly competative company and I can see no reason why their engine should not be the most powerful/fuel efficent combination on the grid given they could do anthing they liked......


My understanding is that Cosworth has brought their engine into line with the current regs, dropped RPM down accordingly, and as a result has probably solved whatever fuel efficiency problems they had with the older engine. If I remember correctly the last time Cosworth ran they had a pretty strong engine at higher revs than the others, with good reliability. I don't think Williams dropped them because they didn't like the engine, they just didn't like having to pay for them. I think Cosworth will be OK this year and the teams running them can worry about other factors.


Does somebody know if the current engine regs means that no 'changes' can be made to the engine at all (reliability or otherwise)?

For instance, the Ferrari engine is said to consume more fuel.. are Ferrari able to have remedied that over the winter?


At least they didn´t come up with the solution of detuning the best engines.

Ferrari might have a problem with fuel economy judging by last year and also with reability.

Strategys should be interesting at least on the first races.

Opposite Lock (Ken)

One of my biggest concerns regarding the refueling ban is that the racing will become economy runs. Drivers will have to slow down to conserve fuel and the races will be even more processional than ever. I've seen it in NASCAR and Indycar and it becomes extremely boring. Bernie is correct that the same will happen in F1. At least that's my prediction...


Keep in mind that while some cars may need to slow to get better mileage (maybe expecting a safety car that never eventuated) - others will have chosen to put in a bit more fuel and be catching them running flat out.


I agree that sprint races are the best kind of racing.

Notwithstanding, I feel that 1984-1993 was perhaps the greatest era in F1 history.


If anyone is worried about that they should try to get hold of Autosport from 7th Jan, and read Mark Hughes article...

Very good.

Basically he thinks that the rules will mandate 2 sotps for tyres..

Obviously the ideal would be to stop at 1/3 and 2/3 distance.

However, since the cars will now be FASTER after their stops, rather than with refuelling SLOWER, you will see a following car trying to stop before their quarry, rather than after.

This could make for some interesting races... IF the tyres are marginal on performance for the stint, since you could have some cars going very slowly at the end of the racem due to having made 2 early stops to make some places..

What do you think James?


well … a dramatic haul of the points system could give them a run for their money.

Maybe the winner should take it all?

Also, the teams should be encouraged to take advantage of alternative energy recovery systems. Power should not only rely on fuel.


A valid point. There has been widespread concern about this among team bosses


Maybe this is just a newb question, but it turns out that one of the teams has an uncompetitive thirsty engine, will the FIA allow the manufacturer to tune it so that it can be in contention?

This is why banning testing was silly. We'd have the answers to these questions.


James, considering Mercedes got ahead of the competition by exploiting the "changes allowed for reliability improvement" loophole, are there rumors that Ferrari and Renault will use the same loophole to catch up?


I am personally glad that the awareness of fuel economy is in F1 as this will have a direct relation to road car solutions. It falls in line with the durability of engines & cost cutting initiatives.

I also believe that drivers will be an important factor in fuel usage, some drivers will be heavier on the gas and others might be more economic, similar to tyre use. They will also be able to change the engine map according to race circumstances.

I remember reading or hearing somewhere that Senna was always heavier on fuel than the other drivers becos he "blipped" the throttle mid corner.

Surely drivers like Schumi & Hamilton who are early on the throttle must be heavier on gas?

Another important factor is the relationship that teams have with their fuel suppliers like Mercedes Petronas, Mobil McLaren


I don't think it will have any relation to road cars. They already get better mileage. The biggest single factor is driver performance, including how much extra weight they carry around as golf clubs, groceries, and whatnot. And theres not much a mfg can do about that.


early on the throttle means faster on the following straight. this is the first you learn on racing and ALL drivers are always trying to be as early and as hard as possible on the throttle.


I am starting to think that the FIA should start taking a different approach the engine regs.

Perhaps instead they should say: you have this much fuel (say 260 litres) for the race, next year you get 10 litres less, 10 litres less the following year and so on over the next 5 or 6 years.

That way at the same time the engine companies are forced to work on fuel efficiency which is good for the car industry as a whole and at the same time can work on improving the power/fuel consumption ratio which is good for the sport.


The best regs the FIA could introduce is no regs at all, instead simply give each team a season's fuel allowance (to be reduced year on year by say 5% to force the designers hand into making their cars more relevant to the real world)) and let the teams use it as they see fit.

This at a stroke would bring innovative designs, differences between teams and make, in the end, all engines more fuel efficient. 8)


Hear hear though far too reasonable a suggestion for anyone at the FIA to listen 🙂


Great, apart from the fact, that the manufacturers are not allowed to work on the engines..

Better idea, give the manufacturers back the freedom to develop, but give them a 200litre limit for the race, as we had at the end of the Turbo era.


Yes that is what I said!

"I am starting to think that the FIA should start taking a different approach to the engine regs. Perhaps instead....."

Apologies for not explicitly making it clear.



"Red Bull were keen on a move to Mercedes power for 2010, but met with resistance from McLaren and Brawn and also from powerful voices within Red Bull itself"

James, are you able to shed any light on why voices within Renault would be against using Merc engines? Are those voices motivated purely and simply by the fuel consumption issue or something else at play.

Also, does the fact that engine modifications motivated by efficiency can be made? For example, are Ferrari able to try and improve the fuel consumption of their engines, provided that it does not lead to a direct improvement in output? If so, are such modifications registered? Are they obliged to notify the FIA of such changes?


the FIA would know about any physical developments as the engines have a physical seal on them, fitted by the FIA, and the seal can only be broken in the presence of a member of the FIA.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

James, what kind of fuel advtange can be gained by aerdoynamic efficiency?

Could a car's aero efficiency significantly make up for it having a thirsty engine?

Stephen Kellett JAF1

Thats a tricky one.

Increasing aero efficiency in terms of downforce will most likely increase drag: You are effecively translating incoming (static air you are driving into, consuming energy) into energy forcing the car into the ground - translation: increased grip.

Increasing aero efficiency in terms of lower drag coefficient - interacting less with air you are driving into, consuming less energy - translation: faster car.

Its a balancing act. Improve one, you most likely damage the other. There will be occasions when you can improve both. With F1 cars, that probably is not the case, with you bog standard family saloon it probably is the case.

And at certain speeds, the flow becomes turbulent and all bets are off, you have no idea what you are measuring or why (which is pretty much why F1 cars following F1 cars doesn't work under a given range for a given speed).

I did fluid flow analysis, turbulent flow, etc, (Shannon, Nyquist etc) during my degree, but that was a long time ago and not used during my career. CFD did not exist back then, but CFD doesn't change the basic premises of flow theory, just allows you to model them better, until the model gets unstable.

Anyone who does this for a living care to comment? (Hint: You don't have to be involved in racing cars to have a valid input on this - flow theory for many scenarios will have valid insights on this).

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Thanks for the reply Steve. Very interesting post.

Stephen Kellett JAF1

I should have written "faster car, or more fuel efficient car", just as the other translation is "more grip, less fuel efficient".

Swings and roundabouts. Which one do you prefer? I think I prefer swings...


For sure not only engine fuel consumption will be a factor next year, but drag as well will determine how much fuel is going to be needed for a complete race. Does anyone have any figures on this? What is the span between a low drag car and a high drag car and how much does that affect the fuelconsumption.


I guess only time will tell, no body here (James included) knows the exact fuel consumption figures for the various engines.

Fuel consumption has as much to do with the drivers style as it does the design of the engine so it'll be interesting to see how this shapes up over the season 🙂


Will we know the true relative fuel consumption figures after this year?

I assume the weight of the car when full of fuel will be known but do we get to know the true weight of the car minus any fuel?


very good idea.

I wonder whether enough development is allowed to carry it out though.

Good idea nonetheless though.


I know you asked James but I am pretty sure it would.

The better aero packages have good downforce with less drag, so assume it would affect fuel consumption.


when you mention powerful voices in redbull were vocal against switching from Renault.

No points for guessing that was Adrian newey. Smaller tank, better packaging. Sounds like classic newey....

Best of luck to them. I hope to see them produce a strong car. I like seeing 3-4 teams up at the front.


Hey James, great article about the engines. I find it completely stupid about equalising the engines though. What happened to the day of having a powerful engine was a major advantage, like Williams BMW back in 2001. I know that the teams are trying to save money, but having a more powerful engine than the other teams should be part of the sport. It's all now down to aero, it's not right in my book.


The whole engine equivalence argument is so complex that it is a non-starter.

There are so many factors that make an engine perform differently - they have removed one, the top revving, but the configuration of the engine, stroke, bore etc, the engine mapping, the nature of the ancillary equipment mean that at every point on the rev range, different engines will produce different power and torque.

Who is to say what is an advantage or disadvantage? Without a different engine formula - one that prescribes the materials and dimensions so that the only competition is the quality of the engine build not the differing design and components, there simply cannot be engine parity.

The engine freeze will always be unfair. The only solution is to either de-restrict the engine changes but come up with another system of controlling development - and we saw that was well-neigh impossible.

For the next engine formula, the FIA will need to build in a different means of controlling spend - we want engines to be enthusiastically developed at first - we want engine wars on an new engine formula - but there needs to be a way of stopping extravagant spend. What we don't want is the death of engine development, which is what we are lumbered with at the moment.



With all this hoo har about refueling and team bosses not liking, why did they all agree for this to happen in the first place. If they are all worried about it being procession, why were these concerns not raised when the idea was first muted?


Off Topic: All the praise Brawn is heeping on Schumacher (in his latest interview he says boldly that Schumacher will be champion this year) must be having a negative affect on Rosberg.

It's clear to me that neither Brawn or Mercedes see Rosberg as a true top fight driver what say ye ❓ 😕


I bet Rosberg isn't sleeping too well at the moment, if the old man beats him as expected that'll be the end of his career as a potential top league driver.


As far as fuel consumption is concerned I believe that the worst effcient was BMW's engine last year. Besides BMW financial-driven withdrawal decision, I guess they had known before their announcement that they would not have been competitive for 2010 because of the engines. I have made a bet Mercedes will be ahead of Ferrari by 2010 season end because of the engines.


Is nobody wondering just how "Equal" the new Cosworth will be ?

Max was in the middle of some amazing moves to wrestle control of F1 from FOTA and bully his enemies when the question came up of the Cosworth engines. There was the staggeringly blatant moving of the goalposts one day before the deadline when Max announced that only Cosworth engined entrants would be considered.... I wonder if there is yet another sting in the well spanked tail of Mad Max coming in the shape of a "Very equal" Cosworth engine for all his onside teams ?


I hope Cosworth just blows the doors off the others!


off topic but will you be writing a piece on the recent departure of what many see as two of max's cronies?


We're a group of volunteers and starting a brand new scheme in our community. Your website offered us with useful info to paintings on. You've done an impressive job and our entire community shall be grateful to you.

Top Tags
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!