F1 Winter Break
Your F1 engine questions answered: Why define the number of cylinders?
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Jun 2011   |  10:11 am GMT  |  137 comments

Following on from yesterday’s story about the F1 teams and governing body compromising on the future engine regulations by deciding to adopt V6 turbo engines rather than in line 4 cylinder turbos, we got a good question from long time reader Jose Arellano,

“Why not limit the total amount of C.C and let them do whatever number of cylinders they want?”

This is a great question to which I didn’t know the answer so we put it to Cosworth’s F1 General Manager Mark Gallagher, an old friend of the JA on F1 site and here is his response.

Mark Gallagher writes:
“The answer is predominantly to do with achieving technical equivalency to ensure that no one technical solution gains a massive competitive edge, and this is closely aligned with the need for financial prudence.

“If you limit the CC and leave freedom on cylinders, it would be possible for a manufacturer to have a different engine based on development cost and architecture and this inevitably leads to a spending war. If one went for a V8, someone would go for a V10, and if that worked better then someone else might go on to a V12… the dollars start to disappear down the drain.

“And if you homologated the engines for 3 years, the one with the worst configuration would be screwed (technical term…) for the entire period, and the one with the most money/best configuration would dominate. If you didn’t homologate for 3 years with a freeze, you would have annual development and possibly different numbers of cylinder-engines from teams from one season to the next.

“By having tightly controlled rules governing capacity, fuel allowance, number of cylinders etc you generate a framework for financial control and ensure that engines are not a source of competitive advantage i.e. what we have now works. Competitive edge comes from the Constructor (chassis constructor) and Driver’s championship titles. There is no World Championship for Engines. Sadly.

“Finally, by having common engine size/architecture, teams are not penalised if they swap engine supplier. A Renault will fit in the back of a Team Lotus car, or a Cosworth in the back of an RBR, without huge changes in weight distribution, redesign of car, wheelbase, gearbox interface etc. Again it’s all dollars.”

Thanks to Jose for the question and to Mark for taking the time to answer.

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"There is no World Championship for Engines. Sadly."

There used to be, of sorts. In the late 80s the championship was split into two parts - the Jim Clark Trophy for drivers of naturally-aspirated engines, and the Colin Chapman Cup naturally-aspirated constructors.


Yes, makes sense though doesn't it? You can't help but imagine that a team that came up with a great innovation engine-wise would have an even bigger advantage than RBR have this year - and very few of us are fans of 'runaway' seasons. What I do not want to see is a single engine supplier but this is a 'heart' not a 'head' thing as I cannot really offer you any logical reasons why - I just know I hate the idea!


I disagree completely, why can’t we leave it up to the manufactures decide. Still have an engine freeze.

Whats the difference with our present day situation with Merc have the advantage over the rest of the teams.


Yes, it does make sense. Engines that burn petrol have been developing for 100 years+. Engineers pretty much know everything there is to know and any further improvements will be massively expensive for very small gains. Best to stick with one engine spec. whether it's 4, 6 or 8 cylinders.

I can appreciate the desire for them to make a nice noise -- but maybe there are other ways of achieving that other than spending vast sums of money on fancy cylinder configurations.


Are you suggesting that Bernie could get rid of those tired old national anthems and boring Wagner piece and play engine sounds thought the speakers instead?


James, where has this ban on changing the engine mapping between qualy and the race come from? I do not remember there being any of the usual build-up or discussion about this. It's like a bolt of lightning from the heavens.

Is this the 'old firm' closing ranks and doing all they can to remove the 'new boy's' advantage (RBR)?

Does this mean that RBR has been in violation of the regs or the spirit of them? If the answer is no, why would they agree to this ontop of the 'exhaust blowing' amendment?

If I were CE of RBR I would be feeling rather put-upon right now.


Hi Wayne,

It might be something else entirely. With turbo engines there would be the potential for significant power variations from qualifying to race trim. In the post refuelling era all the cars have been running an advanced fuel economy strategy. We don't have the mid-1980s situation of cars running out of fuel now, but possibly, the rule makers want this back in the control of the driver's right foot. It could be the overtaking will be by DRS rather than boost button. Therefore giving a DRS seat premium for certain areas of the circuit?

The engine mapping isn't necesarily about exhaust blown diffusers anyway. If it is the cold air variety then there is no difference between the qualifying and race situations. Adding additional fuel is another matter as it adds to heat and fuel cosumption.


Thanks for clearing that up James, I'm a McLaren man myself but I have to feel a tad sorry for RBR in so far as it appears to have been a little too innovative for its own good this year. I'm sure it will make their wdc all the sweeter when the dust settles.


It was part of the package agreed at the TWG meeting last week, where they discussed policing the off throttle EBD ban from Silverstone.


Sorry to off-topic guys, but did you see Tony Fernandes' comments re the coming race in Valencia:

"On track the goals are clear - repeat the qualifying performance from Canada and keep up our much improved reliability record to bring both cars home on Sunday," said Fernandes.

"It would also be good if the other drivers on the grid could avoid using either of our cars as launch ramps this year..."

LMAO, I love this guy!!

That little aerobatic display probably cost Webber the title last year...


He is brilliant for one liners. I cant help but like the guy.

The whole Lotus team is a breath of fresh air.


Very good


That´s very funny!!


If the worry is there will be too much scope with the 'any amount of cylinders' idea, then why not regulate it to be loose, but nor too loose. Have a limited C.C and regulate the amount of cylinders to be anything between 4 and 10 or 6 and 8 or whatever to whatever? Surely there can be a compromise to keep the romance in F1 and be cost effective. Reducing engine size constantly will only leas F1 to running single cylinder sports bike engines in overgrown go-karts.


A shame also that the rules state a V configuration. Can they not say a maximum of 6 cylinders? Therefore leaving teams to choose an inline 6 or a V4 if they think it would be beneficial? I agree (unfortunately) they can not have open rules on number of cylinders but some technical freedom would be better.


"say a maximum of 6 cylinders? Therefore leaving teams to choose an inline 6 or a V4 if they think it would be beneficial? I agree (unfortunately) they can not have open rules on number of cylinders but some technical freedom would be better."



It would be great to see Ferrari and Merc with a V6 turbo, BMW and Ford coming back with a straight six turbo and Renault going the inline 4 route and a Cosworth V4! We need some variation and the noise would be fantastic.


A possibility but a remote one. The probability that your scenario will ever happen is similar to max coming back to power in the FIA.


I understand the need mainly for financial reasons to have a standard engine spec - but i would love to see a return of engine development and less strict rules.


If I was in charge i'd put a horsepower output limit on the ICE element - but remove any limits on the KERs / augmentative element of the drive train. I'd then establish a standard max. 'transmission' weight limit - as well as a standard volume of fuel per weekend.

The hope being that this would encourage engineering focus away from ICE and into lightweight, high output hybrid technology.

Costs = extortionate no doubt, but the potential benefits to the car industry would be equally immense - and there would be real innovation across the grid.



So the short answer is "It is reduce the amount of competion, to avoid the teams spending so much"

But if I remember correctly in 1991 Senna won the championship with a Honda V12 Powered Mclaren, from Prost's V12 Ferrari, and Mansell's V10 Williams Renault.

The V10 Williams Renault won 92 and 93, and Schumacher won in 94 with V8 Ford powered Benneton.

The running costs of teams and engine programmes was lower then than today, yet there was unlimitted testing, teams changed engines and gearboxes more often than I change CDs etc etc. (And Adrian Newey's 91-93 cars for Williams were better than his 2010-11 ones for Red Bull too!)


As an oldie, different configurations and sounds appeal but I think the issue today is that the technology involved in F1 is so much more advanced than it was twenty years ago - and exponentially more expensive. It is inevitable, therefore, that any race for supremacy is going to cost exhorbitant amounts of money, which is simply unjustifiable against a climate of reducing costs and, as Mike Gallagher says, in a sport where the rewarded competition is between drivers and constructors. And the current thinking does seem to be working well on track!

The 91-93 Williams may have been more dominant and will almost certainly be historically regarded as greater cars than the 10-11 Red Bulls but they can never be a better cars. If period dominance equals best, then the 1950 Alfa Romeo and 1953 Ferrari are probably the best F1 cars despite being slower than many decent modern production cars!

I hope you change your underwear more often than your CDs!!


I'm pretty sure the engine programmes these days are significantly less expensive nowadays.

I remember hearing about the Senna days at McLaren where they brought about 5 different spec engines to tests for races. That would be absolutely astromical cost wise.


Seriously - when Mansell and Piquet were driving Williams Hondas they'd put an engine in after practice to use in qualifying and a 3rd one to use in the race. I don't change my in-car CDs twice in a day (3 sets of underwear in a day would be unusual).

Teams will spend as much money as they have (which is as much as the sponsors will give them). It's fine on the one hand saying "we want F1 to be the pinnacle of technology" and "we want F1 to be a testing ground for greener power units for road cars". And it's fine on the other hand to say "We don't want to spend money on an engines arms race". But people seem to be trying to say both, and I don't think they can have it both ways.


Within the terms of your definitions, why can't you have it both ways? Anything and everything has to be affordable; without unlimited resources, every achievement is a compromise between the dream and its affordability, be it F1, NASA, the NHS, the car in our garages or the home to which that garage is attached.

The pinnacle, in real terms, is that which can be achieved and F1 will only cease to be the pinnacle if it is overtaken by a competitor. In terms of diesel technology, sportscar racing is already ahead but, so far as the general playing field is concerned, surely no other category presently comes close.

That is not to say there is no room for improvement but that ceiling of affordability must be respected because the consequences otherwise are dire.


I would like to see a championship for engines as I think it would encourage the motor manufactures into the sport if they thought they could win 🙂

It would not take too much organising, each engine supplier must have two teams and nominate which would two would be their championship teams for the season if they have more.

I guess it might mean an extra cup to be provided at the end of each race. But scoring would simply be the same points system as the race.

Easy, so why not?


Plus it (a WCE) would allow motor manufacturers to come & go in FI, as their marketing budgets allowed - without threatening the whole sport like BMW, Honda & Toyota nearly did a couple of years ago when they pulled out because of the GFC.


BMW , Honda & Toyota were trying to be the main sponsor of a team AND foot the bill for an Engine programme which only supported that team. Compare this with (say) Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault who have decent sponsorship and each sell engines to 2 other teams. Easy to see which business model works.


Mark Gallagher said: "By having tightly controlled rules governing capacity, fuel allowance, number of cylinders etc you generate a framework for financial control and ensure that engines are not a source of competitive advantage i.e. what we have now works."

If that's the case (and I'm slightly playing devil's advocate here) then why not have a single engine supplier like there's a single tyre supplier? If the competitiveness of the car is meant to be exclusively down to the skill of the chassis designers, why not remove different engine suppliers as a variable?

And I'm not even sure that it's always true - we frequently hear that a particular circuit will favour e.g. Merc-powered cars because of a straight-line speed advantage etc.


the thing with engines is that with closely controlled regs the performance differences can be relatively minimal and not result in one team dominating. Tyre manufacturers can be miles off the pace at times, for example Bridgestone in 2005 and will often bring large circuit to circuit swings. Aerodynamic downforce advantages are balanced to a degree by tyre wear penalties, so the field is kept close. It is a about having differences where it doesn't hurt the show, so the sponsorship base is increased.




What that usually refers to is Mercedes' powered-cars have better aero, just using Mercedes' powered cars as a reference


And how would Ferrari look in the eyes of the world if they would have to use a Mercedes or Renault engine? Or Mercedes having to use a Ferrari or Renault engine, etc.

It would be like the CEO of Coca-Cola driking a can of Pepsi in public.

That would be very hard to implement I imagine.


The FIA tried to make Cosworth the only engine supplier a couple years ago, and it fell through. Manufacturer teams like Ferrari and Mercedes cannot and will not run cars without making their own engines.

Grayzee (Australia)

Nah, sorry, but let's not have a single engine supplier, please. We already have control tyres, and a very stiff set of regs that makes the cars almost identical. Any more "control" items and we'll end up very expensive Formula Fords!


NickyStuu you raise a great point; if F1 is not intended to pit engine manufacturers against each other does that than mean it IS intended to pit chassis manufacturers against each other as the dominating competitive element?

Interestingly I'd suggest the relevance to public interest would lean towards engine vs. engine as you're more likely to see some technology benefit on your road car from a Renault engine in an F1 car than the RBR chassis?

Might answer my own question though...more than likely it's all about the balance of these elements so as not to have one dominate and spoil the rest?


If there is no competitive edge in the use of engines, why have multiple engine suppliers at all? Why not just make it a rule that everyone has to use Cosworth engines?

And if the whole idea is to level the field, why not standardise the entire chassis too?

F1 is as much about the cars as it is about the drivers. And surely the engines are a big part of the car.

I wonder how much engine standardisation has played in convincing the likes of Honda, BMW and Toyota to not remain in F1 - even as engine suppliers.


Steady on old chap it's already been done, its called A1 racing.

A lot of the lower formulae also have standardised engines and chassis. At F1 level it used to be teams competing to have the best of everything, but it is getting increasingly restricted with innovation being frowned upon by the FIA who now, even mid season are changing the rules to prevent progress.


Just to be clear, I wasn't advocating the standardisation of everything 😀


I can see where Mark is coming from, but this article has only created more questions for me...

With regards to one engine gaining a massive advantage - if it worked in the early 90s and previously, why wouldn't it work now? To me, it doesn't matter if one engine is down on performance - it's all part of the game. You could say the same for other areas of innovaton (ie aerodynamics), but they still allow the said innovation, even though some teams still gain massive advantages from them. Plus, I'm sure that fans would love the variety of sounds that the engines would produce.

With regards to the costs - does it cost more to develop an engine in relation to other parts of the car? I'm sure that many fans would prefer it if engines were developed instead of other areas. It just feels more satisfying somehow, knowing that the beating heart of the car is continually being advanced. This is another reason that the budget cap would have been good - it would have wiped problems such as these clean away.

Of course, it's great having a sport where every car has very similar performance, and having great racing because of that. But one thing that most of us don't want is the sport to become a single-make formula - unfortunately it looks like it may be heading that way, only with different badges on the cars.



I think every fan prefers engine development than aero development. and theres always going to be someone ahead thats the way it is!

There can be another way of controlling the costs. maybe make the manufacturers agree to supply engines to independent teams at a fixed cost no matter how much they spent developing.

Mexican stock car series has this rule that you can buy ANY engine from ANY competitor whenever you want at a fixed cost and that maintains everyone from overspending on engines...


I can't help feeling that formula one wants more competition and more technological advances, yet they try to stifle all interest at every opportunity by trying to slow cars and attempting to artificially even the playing field. I would love to have been around in the 60's, 70's and 80's when the cars were all shapes and sizes and sprouting radical ideas on a regular basis.

Wouldn't it be great to have an unlimited series, based on who can get around a track in the fastest time, with a car designed from a clean sheet of paper with no regulations governing how it would be designed/built bar safety for the driver. Wonder how much the end result would resemble an F1 car?


Agreed. The only limitations should be in the consumables, tires and fuel.

Currently the engineers are employed to build a car to spec and then find the most clever ways to exploit loopholes in the rules when they could be finding the best way to get around a track extremely quickly while only using up a limited amount of fuel.


Been done. See the history of the CanAm. There are conspiracy theorists who still believe that the FIA began influencing the regs in order to ensure that F1 was the unquestioned "pinnacle of motorsport." I'll go ahead and stir things up here: With the possible exception of active suspension, F1 STILL hasn't caught up to the CanAm for technical freedom and innovation.

I agree with others here. Why emphasize chassis variety (meaning a continuation of the aero development wars) over engine variety? I think that it's a relic, a tradition that exists because it's a tradition, and it's outlived its usefulness. Recall that the constructors championship came in with the garagistes - i.e., when it was Coventry-Climax (not Cosworth) was the off the shelf GP engine, around 1958. A decade later, the DFV arrives and ushers in the era of the Cosworth kit car. And what happened then? Anyone could buy a DFV and build a car around it, no matter how marginal the team, and garagistes flooded the grid. And, over time, the powers that be in F1 (Bernie) decided that the garagistes had outlived their usefulness. Too unprofessional. Unpolished. Unworthy of being part of the upmarket/glitz appeal direction chosen for F1. Expendable. It took a few years to do it, but the garagistes were driven from the sport. It's all about grandee teams now, and I think the newest teams are despised as the return of the garagiste ethos.

The sport currently designed so that garagistes are unwelcome. Why retain a constructors title that was designed in a time when off the shelf engines and suspension parts plus a chassis would put you on the grid? That's the recipe for a control engine formula. Isn't that a little "common" for F1? Why not have an engine manufacturers title? Surely it doesn't save much money (if any) to emphasize aero development (blown diffusers, flexi wings etc, etc, ad nauseum) over engine development. Give the teams scope to try different engine architecture and someone could have an effective response to another team's aero innovations.

I think someone above mentioned something like this, but why not trade off cylinders against displacement? Max displacement means minimum number of cylinders, i.e., 1.8 litres = 6 cylinders. Lots of torque there. Want 8 cylinders? Give up 200cc and run at 1.6 litres. Hmmm. Torque curve is peakier, but a chance to make more peak power. And so on. Give up 200cc for every two cylinders you add. Especially if you're in a turbo formula (and I think mechanical supercharging should also be allowed) with KERS, every combination should have a good shot at being competitive.

Whether or not a given combination wins is a matter of... well, to borrow from Eric Clapton, "It's in the way that you use it."

Get rid of the constructors title and just create a team championship. You know, like EVERY OTHER SPORT!


There is however a safety issue here. You 'could' easily have cars with 1000hp+ engines and huge turbos etc, but would be nearly uncornerable due to the sheer power.

A return to the 'innovation' of the 60s and 70s, when the likes of Chapman and others which developing new ideas at a huge pace, would also simply lead to a much higher level of accidents and potentially driver, and maybe spectator deaths. F1 couldn't operate in that arena.


But they already had that in the 80s. Some of the turbos kicked out 1000hp+ in those chassis.

The lockdown on any innovation does seem to me in contravention to the pinnacle of motorsport. In recent years any attempt at competitive advantage seems to get locked down.


I'm well aware that in the modern world of health and safety no such thing would ever be allowed but can't stop me dreaming! But from a purely hypothetical viewpoint it would be interesting to know what we would end up watching.


Ha ha, that's Le Mans bro. 🙂 Almost...


Fundamentally, the more cylinders, the lighter the pistons, the higher the revs, the more power from an engine of a given cc. The best example currently is World Superbikes, Ducati's V-twins are 20 or 30 BHP down on the 4 cylinder engines and are allowed an extra 200cc capacity just to be competitive.

However, in F1, the difference in length of a V10 vs a V12 can give the V10 a competitive advantage in terms of length, distribution, over a V12 that might spurt out a few extra BHP.

Cosworth Man is entirely correct that this should be nailed down, as otherwise the Engine Manufacturers have to investigate and build all possible options to avoid the dreaded Screwisation.

The last few months of dithering from the FIA over whether Renault should be allowed to force a change to 4 cylinders, to suit their own retail market, will have wasted millions as Development teams are sent off to quickly evaluate this option...


cosworth man has his point. but his also talking in Cosworths point of view. they are the ones that have more to loose from not tight regs


Cosworth Man, I love it. Cool, green and yellow costume; super-fast power pack as a stessed member of his super-human spaceframe allowing him to turn on a dime; and a deafening wail as he flies through the air.

Oh dear, I've been sniffing Castrol R again!


To me that sounds like someone that's not 100% confident in their engineering team, which is a worry. Yes money plays it part but that explanation is pretty unconvincing - with modern computer simulation there's less risk in spending millions and getting it wrong, I actually think that 9 out of 10 would come back with identical formats.

The 2011 ACO rule change is a good example of how it can be done, this year we had Audi with a single VGT turbo V6 against Peugeot's twin turbo V8 and it's widely believed that they produce very similar BHP! Both 3.7 litres.


"Yes money plays it part but that explanation is pretty unconvincing – with modern computer simulation there’s less chance in spending millions and getting it wrong"

Is not always so straight forward. Just have a look at Ferrari. Their computers said one thing about their performance and the car showed a completely different thing.


There's a subtle difference though, Ferrari struggled due to inaccurate data coming from the wind tunnel! Even the most advanced wind tunnels are pretty crude - simulation required for initial engine design is far more straightforward and reliable. Pretty sure that most engine designers could lay down an engine concept in their mind with respect to displacement, torque, speed, vibration thus output. So yeah, I don't see anyone getting it massively wrong outside of reliability.


For all those saying just control the finances, how exactly do you control the costs of 12 teams - 11 of which are privately owned and do not have to report their numbers? Accountants can be as creative, if not more so than engineers.

Policing x numbers of dollars is much more difficult than policing x number of cylinders.

One way is to audit the books of all the teams every 3 months and any funny business with the numbers mean permanent exclusion from F1.


But unlike Engineers, and speaking as a finance professional myself, Accountants who try to be too creative often end up in big big trouble/jail 🙂


And what has that to do with my comment? Why did you quoted me? I don't understand the corelation between my post and yours..


11 out of 12 are privately owned?

You mean there is a state owned team? Or some sort of public property team? 😉


I wrote "less risk in spending millions and getting it wrong" but it should be "less chance," sorry about that.


Great thing about this place, we are always learning.

Always the dollars but it makes sense.

But it´s great know that F1 will use 1.6 engines like me.

James are F1 expecting to atract more manufacteurs with this measure? or it won´t make a diference?

The site looks great!!


I have enormous respect for Cosworth, but this reasoning is so far removed from the raison-d'etre of F1. It is motor-racing, now on a budget thanks to FIA keeping it accessible to lesser teams. Motor racing is about developing the fastest car/driver combination within a given set of "SIMPLE" rules. Let the manufacturers blow their budget on hexagonal pistons in a turbo V5 if they want, but they must stay within the budget, which includes development. Scrap rev limits, restrictions on usage of KERS, etc, and control it all my budget and amount of fuel per weekend. They already limit the numbe of tyres, shame there's no competition in that area anymore.

F1 is a competitive sport, please allow the guys to compete --- at every level....

James, any chance of a comment from Charlie Whiting or someone in FIA as to the "real" reason for all this craziness?




I reckon the budget and safety should be the only restriction on construction, and the amount of fuel and tyres per weekend to control the racing. This would make for a fascinating variety of everything, not just engines. Spend on engine or spend on aero, they choice is the teams. We might get away from the oh-so-boring latest endplate for a front wing that has 2 slots instead of 1, and a team might actually come up with a new-style KERS that really does something. Like the shelved flywheel system Williams were working on maybe? It might suit the FIA better as well since they seem to be beaurocrats and more capable of controlling a balance sheet than an inventive engineer.



Or better yet, each team is given an old Chrysler Hemi V8 to develop how they want... lol


This, plus 20,000,000.

And let two strokes role while you're at it.

Thought: What would happen if someone stuck a turbo and KERS on a Ducati MotoGP engine (800cc, V4, 200+ horsepower) and stuck it in an F1 car?


"have a role"

Man, I need my coffee. And I need a roll...


"...hexagonal pistons in a turbo V5..."

Wonder how that'd sound. ¦¬)


A lot like the experts on this site,,rrrruubbish.


Frankly I will quit watching unless they use pentagonal pistons!


Hi James,

I love the new web site, very nice mate.

Recently on your website someone had a great idea, in as much as let the teams have x amount of fuel for the race/weekend/sunday or whatever, and let them race but meet that, simply you run out of fuel you lose!?

Sounds simple, and would encourage the spirit of top flight f1 wouldn't it?




I'd go one step further: make it an annual amount. You want to test on your own track? Fine. Just make sure you have enough fuel to finish the races.


maybe give them less and less fuel throughout the year per race, forcing the teams to develop performace but at a efficient rate.

At the first race, 100% race fuel distance

At the last race, 90% race fuel distance


You lot don't half moan. Why can't we have this? Why can't one team do 6 cylinder and one do 8. What about development?.... There's a huge amount of moaning going on around various forums atm about the season being boring as Vettel is dominating, imagine if we had free engine regs then the chances of that happening every season would be quite high. Give the engineers a fixed set of parameters and let the clever ones come up with the bright ideas within that framework. Like RBR have with the front wing and blown diffuser.


All of this is truly meaningless and it's quite sad to see formula one continuing to go in this direction. The sport suffers from over-regulation and cosmetic changes are not going to fix the underlying problem, which is as always money. If the FIA really wanted to make the sport more interesting they would go for simple rules and would require equal budgets among the teams. Right now, it's about who has the most money, while I'd love F1 to be about who's got the most engineering talent.


I thought we had a resource restriction agreement to control costs.

The one thing F1 has to offer the wider world is a crucible for technical innovation. I would like to see a fuel flow limit with everything else free; turbos, kers, cylinders. Then the most intelligent use of resources wins.

If we just want entertaining racing put the drivers in GP2 cars.



And this would actually be both innovation and environmentally friendly. And I mean really "green", not some lip service and hypocrisy that we have today.

This would actually really promote technology that makes better and more efficient use of natural resources and money.

Alain J. Baudrez

If money is the key, why not impose an upper limit on what a complete year of development and running an engine may cost and leave all the rest free. You go with Diesel, fine, Rotary/Wankel yes, Turbo or Atmo. hybrid, V4, V6, V8, V10, V12... Then innovation will return and the ordinary roadcars will benefit (Remember Renault with their first turbo engines). Now the only innovation are aero innovations and nobody benefits from those millions spent in aero R&D


Didn't the Brawn have the Mercedes engine because the Ferrari just wouldn't fit?? I think even then they had to cut half the back of the chassis off and bond a new section on in order for it all to work, still having compromised exhaust and rear suspension.

Strange to think that due to the architecture of the engines, that meant that Mercedes left McLaren (not the only reason admittedly) and Michael Schumacher ended up back in F1...


Loving the website now James, did think it was cluttered at first but am already used to it!

The FIA could reintroduce full engine development, but limit the cost to constructors by making a rule where any engine must be made available for mandated X dollars to any team that wants to use it. The Engine suppliers will no doubt spend millions making engines for their own brands, but then "sell" the engines to their own constructor team for mandated X dollars, along with any other team that wants it for the same mandated X dollars. It will not affect the constructor teams budgets because the independents can use the Ferrari, Merc or XYZ engine at the same price as any other. The engine suppliers can still run their own engines, or a rivals (if they can handle the humiliation). Motivation would be to build a great engine for thir brand, but would be limited by the fact that others can use it, and some simple minimum weight/ size dimensions/ gearbox bolt up pattern specs.


Personally I think we need to create an environment where it is beneficial to develop the engine & drive train, rather than simply creating a situation where its all tightly controlled and everyone is trying to produce the max power possible from the same formula - because this will ultimately only lead to an arms race and a future freeze on development when "costs are too high"..

I think that allowing more variety with a more lateral set of constraints would be better for the sport and the manufacturers overall.. (eg. Fixed fuel allocation per race / Different limits for different fuel types.)

As for dealing with the expenditure and high costs of an "arms race" - it is a well known fact that the reason we need gimmicks such as DRS to boost/aide overtaking is because the current cars are far to reliant on aerodynamic effects.. I would much rather see the teams expenditure on aero slashed/limited, and their mechanical expenditure unshackled allowing for more R&D into engine performance and other related technologies..

If anything the new F1 teams have proven that you can develop an F1 car to the required standards without expensive wind tunnels and aero programmes.. Granted the new teams have not been racing in the midfield, but to produce a car in such a short space of time as they did last year, and only be a few seconds off the pace shows it can be done.. Each year the regulations try to slow the teams down by a second or two (and overall seem to fail), so that couple of seconds difference would soon be recovered..

I believe that such changes would produce much more exciting racing overall rather than relying on gadgetry and special effect button presses to provide the necessary performance boosts currently required to negate the aerodynamic effects of following another car..

Rather than constantly restricting, standardising and creating situations where "he who finds the loophole wins", we should instead be looking to create a situation where innovation & diversity is openly encouraged because that's when radical and different technologies are given a chance to prove their worth..

F1 is not a spec series (YET) - so everything should have the potential to be a performance differentiator!


Forgot to add - With all the push for F1 to be more road relevant, albeit mostly for marketing reasons - how much relevance is there really in a series where development of the engine/gearbox is frozen, the tyres only last 100miles and the single most important aspect of performance is the aerodynamics - most of which cannot be transferred to a road car because the series is an open wheeled single seater...

If manufacturers and the FIA were truly serious about road relevance, they should be limiting/standardising the most irrelevant aspects, while opening development on the most relevant aspects - rather than doing the complete opposite...


Yes! 100% agree!


James, I'm impressed, really impressed; not by Mike Gallagher's article, although it is very well constructed, but by your lightning reaction to an interesting question and your ability to solicit such a considered response in the time. You weren't kidding when you posted yesterday about your value of the interaction on this site.

Eat your heart out Autosport!


That's what it's about, where we can we try to connect fans to the sport


thanks a lot for that James, im proud!


My brother and I have discussed this for years. When the FIA introduced the engine freeze and the V8 regs before that, they basically implemented the most expensive way possible to have everyone using the same engine! It was daft! We used to joke that it would be easier and cheaper to have Cosworth build all the engines and let the manufacturers build the Rocker covers. But of course the manufacturers would've run a mile... The current arrangement is fair enough, even if the engine freeze is still daft.


yes, because controlling costs always leads to the technical pinnacle of sport.

Just have total spec cars and be done with the charades.


Though I agree with the logic, what this effectively has done is limited the scope of competitive innovation available to a team and ensures that the team with the best aerodynamicist (a certain Mr. Newey) is always going to have an upper hand. Further, it does not appear that there are sufficient competitive resources to compete solely in that arena. Now, take into account that most fans are less interested in the aerodynamic bits than an engine and it seems unfair to restrict a team from pursuing a mechanical means of getting an advantage. It is to this thinking that led me to disagree with the mass damper ban.

Perhaps a better solution would be to limit the absolute fuel useage, and limit bodywork updates to the chassis to 2 per season and put limits on the number of updates to wing elements to give a team like Lotus with lower resources a chance to catch up towards the end of a season.


Funnily enough, I was thinking about this earlier today, remembering the good parts of the '94 season.

As has been said above, you had the light V8, the V10 in the middle, and the powerful but thirsty V12.

It was interesting to watch the pros and cons of each, and how it varied circuit by circuit - the Ferrari's had the power for Hockenheim; the Benetton with the V8 was good on the twistier circuits. It made for more varied racing IMO


It's a very interesting topic but one where there are some rather crazy ideas flying around.

The interview above answers precisely why the number of cylinders, layout and capacity has been specified - the main reasons being:

1) It would cost too much to play around with developing alternatives - that is undeniable


2) It would leave us all at risk of three very boring seasons if one manufacturer's solution worked significantly better than the others

* Remember, we get a number of years homologation whatever - this has to happen because the sport can't afford constant engine development.

With this in mind, I cannot understand why anyone is still suggesting either more flexibility in terms of cylinders, format, or even the far-fetched idea around fuel consumption.

The limit on fuel consumption reminds me of the historic 'Formula Libre' – wouldn’t it be wonderful if teams could bring a new car to every race! Alas, those F1 boffins are extremely savvy chaps – there will be an optimum solution and the chances of them all turning up with different offerings is minimal.

I'd also argue that any comparisons some readers are making with previous years are now irrelevant. As wonderful as it was to have V8, V10 and V12 engines buzzing around the track at the same time, it was just a different age, where engine development happened throughout the season and manufacturers, teams and sponsors all had POTS of money flying around.

I think everyone needs to realise that every company investing in any part of F1 at the moment is doing so by counting every bean that goes out and comes in. Many of them are engaged in F1 solely on the promise that costs will continue to reduce.

Engine manufacturers need to make their efforts viable and dramatically increased development costs (remember, they've been ZERO for a few years now) will mean higher prices for engines, which will hurt the teams.

Interestingly, if we acknowledge that engines are now there to make cars go around, without providing a major competitive advantage (which cannot be helped) then there's even less motivation for new or existing suppliers to invest. For this reason, it's crucial that the engines at least have some link to road-relevance (however tenuous) and that the peripheral technologies really do get passed on to products people can buy.

It's taken me a while of thumping my keyboard and screaming for the return of V12's but I think the penny has finally dropped for me!


OK. But I do think that we need a limited amount of development throughout the season. I would like to see engines and gearboxes, last for just one race weekend. More importantly I would welcome the proposed return of limited in-season testing. At the moment, the best design off the drawing board, is likely to dominate for a substantial part of the calendar. No wonder Christian Horner is quoted as being against the idea. Another thing I would like to see changed is the idea of "parc ferme everything fixed and no changes". Surely if conditions or tactical thinking changes between last practice session qualifying/race. Teams/drivers should be able to show their technical abilities in coming up with an improved solution.



I do agree with you on in-season testing but again, apparently, this costs too much.

There's a theme here.



Without wanting to sound aloof or patronising, I don't think you get 'it'.

"I'd like to see engines and gearboxes last 1 race'."

Brilliant, so would I but it's not going to happen - it costs too much!

"I still think there should be some development throughout the season"

Of what? Cars can be developed the whole time. Engines can't and won't because it costs too much.

"Another thing I would like to see changed is the idea of “parc ferme everything fixed and no changes”. Surely if conditions or tactical thinking changes between last practice session qualifying/race. Teams/drivers should be able to show their technical abilities in coming up with an improved solution."

That's complete rubbish. There is no skill in being able to change settings reactively. All the drivers and engineers have the same variables to change on their cars and would all change them accordingly. The strategic element comes with having to put your neck on the line before you know exactly what conditions will be like. There is great skill in formulating a solution that would suit a range of eventualities, or alternatively, using your nouse to predict the right ones.


“I’d like to see engines and gearboxes last 1 race’.”

""Brilliant, so would I but it’s not going to happen – it costs too much!""

::So does everything else in F1. If you want cheap, do Formula Ford::

“I still think there should be some development throughout the season”

""Of what? Cars can be developed the whole time. Engines can’t and won’t because it costs too much.""

::Having engineered one of the earliest Grp 5 turbo engines, I can say with absolute certainty, that development needs to continue during a season. Currently F1 engines can only have changes on the basis of "reliability" or similar. Also, variable valve timing and a bunch of other engine technologies are banned. These should be allowed, and restricted development with a set number of derivations per season would allow differentiation between manufacturers. I have a feeling that the FIA will be tempted to specify an inlet air restrictor and fixed pressure popvalve. Then we will be back to square one, having spent more millions to reach the same point.::

“Another thing I would like to see changed is the idea of “parc ferme everything fixed and no changes”. Surely if conditions or tactical thinking changes between last practice session qualifying/race. Teams/drivers should be able to show their technical abilities in coming up with an improved solution.”

""That’s complete rubbish. There is no skill in being able to change settings reactively. All the drivers and engineers have the same variables to change on their cars and would all change them accordingly. The strategic element comes with having to put your neck on the line before you know exactly what conditions will be like. There is great skill in formulating a solution that would suit a range of eventualities, or alternatively, using your nouse to predict the right ones.""

:: Yes there is great skill in engineering a solution or product that works for all situations. But this is F1. Following your line of thinking, we would have just one type of treaded tyre that works in all conditions. One the original reasons behind the current "parc ferme", was a move to reduce costs. But we still have cars being 'maintained' for 'safety' or failure reasons. I reject completely your idea about 'lack of skill' in reactively making changes. It takes a lot of skill to design a car that can be changed/adjusted quickly and effectively. Also it requires skill to make dynamic use of the variables avilable. Weather forecasts are just that, a forecast. At the moment the skill is in being able to make the best engineered guess about conditions, and thus setup . I'm guessing that you hated the the era of variable ride heights and computer controlled suspension.::


This is "motor" racing, is it not? Why don't they restrict aero more or give them all standard sets of wings etc.

Perhaps one of the reasons for a lack of "manufacturers" jumping into F1 (Honda etc.) is that they see no real relevance in the aero driven formula and cannot showcase or market what they are known for widely - engine expertise. Real road relevance - increased efficiency (fuel and power) will come predominantly from the engine side, not aero.

Not to wax nostalgic, but it was amazing to hear the different engine configurations - there were certainly stronger and weaker tracks for teams like today - however today it is aero induced.

With the resource restrictions in place, why not let the teams decide where they want to focus their resources(with less restrictive engine rules and perhaps more restrictive aero)?



The RRA can be used to prevent an all out engine war. There is a reason this is 'motor'sport. Engines need to be the primary competitive domain. They are certainly more relevant to road cars than DRS, blown diffusers, front facing exhausts and all the other things the FIA seems to prefer.


I am firmly in the camp of loosening engine regs. Including dumping the requirement that engines last more than the length of qualifying and the race.

I loved the days when if a car too slow the team could turn the engine up to 11 and hope it doesn't blow. It is just another element of strategy.

I find F1 more exciting when the teams are free to push the limits further, and run closer to the edge of reliability. The scarcity of retirements for mechanical reasons takes something away from the sport.

I am excited about things like the resource restriction agreement when it is accompanied by greater operational freedom. Teams want to test because they think that is best bang for buck? Let them!

5 wind tunnels and 3 cfd supercomputers but no spare noses? Fine! Budget a set amount how you will.

The engine formula that would interest me most is a set displacement turbo with a configuration the supplier likes.

I am not sure we would need boost or RPM limits. I understand limiting power for the sake of keeping speeds under controll for saftey, but given the amount of drag on an F1 car, and that the power needed to push an F1 car through the air increases as a cube to velocity, and given the relativly short straights in modern F1, we aren't talking major increases in corner entry speeds, and no effect on apex speeds. Although a counter-argument could be that aero downforce could be increased to acheive no net change in entry speed but an increase in apex speed, but that points remains that the percentage increase of energy in a shunt would not increase dramaticaly.

The interplay with a loosened KERS would be fun too, because teams could use it too overcome turbo lag and drivability issues, as well as the current use. Or save the weight and not use it, or start only KERS to save weight and hit overboost when a KERS car tries to use it to pass, or...

We would have more moments like Vettel's in Canada, but on a dry track, with overboosted small displacement turbos and no driver aids.

Hopefully the FIA and FOM have learned from the new tire regs and the rain, that mechanical grip has a greater effect on fun to watch races than monkeying with the size of aero aids.

Nothing is a bigger yawn than a new front wing endplate design.


"Nothing is a bigger yawn than a new front wing endplate design."



James, I don't get it...

If we want the innovations developed in F1 to find their way into the every day cars why do we exclude engine development? Surely innovative engine solutions which reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emmissions or increase power, are higly relevant to today's car industry. So why shouldn't F1 teams focus more of their effort in this area. Is the F1 chassis more relevant than the engine to an every day car?


So with Renault about to leave F1 engine manufacture if they remain true to their threats and Cosworth reported to be apparently in financial difficulties, this leaves us with Merc and Ferrari and maybe PURE, but they also worked on the basis of the approved FIA regs, (obviously not a wise thing to do nowadays)

What to do? Audi have some very competitive diesels that tend to win LMS races.


That's one hell of a Bluetooth headset, that mark gallagher is sporting.

3.5, 3.0, 2.5, 1.6, 1.4 all engine sizes we have had over recent years, or maybe be having. People complain about the engines not sounding right, when heard in real life, which is a fair point, but surely the action on the track is more crucial.

It will be nice if all these changes were to settle down, we are having too many at once at the moment so its hard to see which factor (DRS, KERS, more variable tyres) is the most defining and which we could really do without. I would have preferred this year to just have the tyres and one of either DRS or KERS.

It seems the next raft of changes will throw all things up in the again.

Christopher Snowdon

When will McLaren, or any other team, attempt their own engines like Ferrari.

BTW, Ferrari is the reason we will never see just one engine supplier, unless it is Ferrari!!!

James, site looks top notch!!!


I don't mind some restrictions for cost management but I'd like to see KERS limitations removed completely. This year the field would be more even if the teams with working KERS could exploit it more. This would definitely interest manufacturers with road car interests.

Would it be possible to make all the restrictions strictly budgetary, as suggested by jpinx above, instead of specifying configuration? Or would safety become an issue then?


Would it be possible then to adopt a Claiming rule similar to what they do in Moto GP from next year and what is happening in Moto 2 right now. This is where by one team can buy other teams technology if you think its giving an advantage over yours, then you also have the rights to it. Using this system was another way to discourage large amounts of spending because naturally you are not going to spend a lot if someone has the chance to purchase it later in the season. This also still allows freedom to develop, just an idea...

With the way the rules are going everyone is scared of costs spiralling out of control and so we are just restricted to one engine type, standard parts etc. Formula 1 is all about advancement and innovation but with so many restrictions for me this is not the right direction. Because if we keep using this thinking as rationalised in the article above in 10 years time we will have almost a standard F1 chassis for all teams.


"If one went for a V8, someone would go for a V10, and if that worked better then someone else might go on to a V12… the dollars start to disappear down the drain."

....or one mike make a rotary 🙂


Wouldnt that be cool?? It would be fascinating to see what F1 engineers could do with a Henkel rotary engine. I wonder if its every been discussed in these meetings, and if so what is said..ie pros/cons etc.


I love how they threw in "A Cosworth in a RBR car"



That happened in 2005, didn't it? The RBR1 had a Cosworth V10.


"...you generate a framework for financial control and ensure that engines are not a source of competitive advantage..."

Could someone, please, suggest very tiny, single plane wings for the cars and move the aero budget towards engines? I'd much rather have engines as the differentiating factor than some wee fin under the car...

I stand by my idea of fuel restrictions and all else power-related is game.


Bravo sir, i applaud that.

Dont you think its a little hypocritical for the rule makers to suggest that the last thing they want is a power war in f1, when in fact what we are seeing at the minute is an all mighty aero war. Also Surely freeing up the engine regulations would go hand in hand with the spending cuts, so the manufactures are free to build what ever they want, within a budget.

Currently f1 has an army of arguably the brightest minds on the planet all working tirelessly to build separate interpretations of the same little wing that is invisible to 99.9 percent of the human race.


Sunday fuel limit and engine budget limit.

Then let'em race.


With respect to the configuration of engines for a given capacity, you actually get only a narrow range of optimal solutions. This happened with the V10 where the cylinder size was the optimal for that capacity and other configurations were abandoned. So if the capacity is set so that a 6 cylinder configuration is optimal, then there is no chance that a four or a 12 cylinder alternative will ever appear.

It seems to me that the new engine agreement is pragmatic in this sense because it acknowledges that convergence toward an optimal solution is inevitable, so setting this parameter is a logical way to constrain costs.

The new power units are going to be interesting and complex things with plenty of scope for good ideas and differentiation between engine makers, who will learn a lot from their development. They will sound just great...

Thanks James for making this such an interesting place to discuss these topics and for using your connections to help us understand what is happening in the sport.


I think what I've said repeatedly here before, and he confirms it: F1 design is NOT about that 'pinnacle' stuff.

They don't design to *win, they are all about NOT LOSING.

This permeates all of F1. Notice that every time someone comes up with something innovative (think F-duct, Mass Damper, etc) they ban it??

They are chicken, *afraid to lose.

And just to be clear about it: this is scorn.


I wish that F1 would lock down aero development and allow the teams to spend money on producing torque.

I say a set amount of chemical energy per race taking into account the energy required to produce whichever chemical you choose (bio-fuel, diesel, gasoline, coal, etc...) with strict emission controls. Come up with the formula and let the teams go at it.

Mandate standard mounting points and set prices for customer teams.

Combine the limited chemical energy with unlimited KERS (no charge at the start though) and I will be a re-invigorated fan.

I am tired of watching the aero-development race, especially when there are so many restrictions on what they are allowed to to aerodynamically.

The one thing about the current engine regulations that I actually like is the limited number of engines per year, we are seeing fantastic reliability with almost no decrease in power.


James, the banner doesn't download - I just get a blanck space where yesterday appeared a photo of you-know-who's red car.

Is there a problem on the site or you are re-designing it?

Or is it some kind of an anti Ferrari conspiracy, as some commenters could suggest should it affect other team?


Hi Galapago,

i can see the banner of a red car making a right turn. The red car have a big rear wing sposored by a Spanish Bank, and the driver seems to be from oviedo, if i'm not mistaking the helmets.

Perhaps your computer as finally understand that the red car isn't worthy of so much spotlight 🙂


Hahaha, your fine irony is very much appreciated, sir. 😀

Funnily enough, it looks like the issue has something to do with the internet browser that I use. When using Chrome, no banner appears - so my computer is less "Red Car oriented" as you could say. But when using Explorer here's the banner back!



I'm using chrome too and i can see it, perhaps something within the cache of the browser, or maybe some settings you changed.

Try to clear the cache and reopen the page, if it doesn't work, maybe restore settings and try again.


"ensure that engines are not a source of competitive advantage"

^ because that'd be.....erm..... MOTOR RACING?


Personally I don't want an 'engine war', I visualise F1 primarily as a DRIVER/Team sport, and I don't like the Wacky Races idea of simply bolting a Nuclear-powered engine on your car just to ensure a first place win. How about a future 'engine' which Star-Trek-like teleports you around the track at the speed of light to ensure a win?

I like the little tweaks by clever engineers to avoid the all-identical A1-racing type model, but those tweaks being done within the FIA-defined confines: it's fine with me as it is.


Dave if you want an only-the-driver-makes-any-difference series then a spec series like IndyCars is what you want.

But even they are getting some diversity next season, so I think you're outa luck.


Not necessarily, engines aren't a performance differentiator at the moment, for example. THere's not much to choose between them.


That's what I meant - that the MOTORS in MOTOR racing cars SHOULD be a/the differentiator.

It's very, very sad that Cosworth of all people want to make motors like this.


Remember the days when during the race you could expect and engine or two to blow up? That was fun...costly...but fun.


But now we get glorified lap top batteries refusing to hold a charge or getting too warm.



Maybe this has been asked already, and if so sorry for the repeat.. But why doesn't the FIA just make a fuel consumption requirement and let the manufacturers meet that with a V8 engine formula? What I mean is, the FIA should set a maximum amount of fuel for the race. For example 25gallons for a 250miles race which would work out to 10mpg. So the teams would have to get their fuel economy good enough to be able to complete the race competitively on 25gallons.

I think it would be much more beneficial to the car industry if they're able to develop technology that allows high performance v8 engines to obtain 12mpg, or even 8mpg for that matter, instead of trying to force them down to 1.6l v6 engines. The FIA should set yearly targets increasing the fuel economy requirements ultimately reaching a set goal on a certain date.

With the combination of KERS, development in fluids, and other innovations, the manufacturers will be able to come up with technology that will directly apply to the car industry. If they can do all this and still have the engine mapping that allows the use a blown diffuser, then that's true innovation that F1 should be promoting.


If they want to cut costs shouldn't they heavily standerdise the aero?


Variety is the spice of life.

Now can I have my F1 back please?


@ Brace: (Insert standing ovation here). Well said, sir!


If they want more "road relevance" - ghastly term - then just outlaw wind tunnels and loose the hounds of engine design.

Engines are far more relevant than 200mph aero tweaks.


James, I have seen some supporters of the I4 turbo claiming that the V6 with the same fuel flow limits will be around 50hp less powerful.

Will there be a power difference between the I4 and the V6, and how much would it be?

Any chance of the full engine specs being revealed?


death to aero.

complete waste of development money and effort.

the technical draw of f1 is in shambles.


If ever there was an example of how Twitter allows you to get closer to the sport you love, I actually had a conversation on DM over twitter with Mark on the day this was all announced.

An absolutely top guy. I wont divulge what we talked about but he did mention the aero dependancy. They think they have a superb engine.

He did mention that he was hoping Adrian newey had a bout of patriotism and put the British (Cosworth) engine in the back of his cars. 🙂


agree with zxzxz...

so much money is being poured into aero which is the death of car control, drifting etc everything that made F1 so compelling before the aero junk on the cars...

they should ban aero and give free reign to engineers for development of engines, suspension etc...F1 is about being at the forefront of technology, not an eco. run...the proposal to limit the c.c. is great + a hybrid option like kers should be mandatory...let F1 be at the forefront once again and come up with creative ideas


Doesn't the Resource Restriction Agreement negate the comments by Mark Gallagher?

If there is a fixed budget for each team, let them spend it how they want. Success would be about the optimum compromise between engines, aero, driver etc and the more variables the better.

Otherwise why not take the same argument about drivers, ie they must all be 160cm tall, weigh 70kg and be paid the same . . .


If the rule-makers are genuine in their aim of making F1 go green, this admittedly rather off the wall idea might work and might even get some interest from other manufacturers.

How about simply specifying that the cars must use a maximum of, say, 150 litres of pump fuel with no refueling and leave it at that.

If Renault want to use a tiny turbo four or Ferrari a screaming multi-cylinder lump let them get on with it as long as they can make it run fast enough for long enough on the fuel limit.

This is not as silly as it might seem, because in future years the fuel consumption could be 'encouraged' by lowering the fuel limit.

Further down the green road, the fuel limit could by translated into kilowatts or joules or some such, encouraging the use of more radical green solutions by enterprising manufacturers.

This would open up the possibility of manufacturers using electric power or even fuel cells or whatever else they can come up with. This would certainly bring a bit of variety to the sport!

Before shouting about the cost aspect, consider that manufacturers would be able to dip into their R&D budgets as well as marketing funds so might just be willing to consider it.


I don’t like the Wacky Races idea of simply bolting a Nuclear-powered engine on your car just to ensure a first place win. How about a future ‘engine’ which Star-Trek-like teleports you around the track at the speed of light to ensure a win?




Mark Gallagher had given a good answers on f1 engine questions.................



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