Marussia chief warns 2014 engines ‘threat to the sustainability of the F1 grid’
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Oct 2012   |  2:10 pm GMT  |  128 comments

Marussia team president Graeme Lowden fears that the implementation of the costly 2014 engine regulations will put the futures of numerous Formula 1 teams on the line.

Despite the in-development 1.6 litre, turbocharged V6 engines, and accompanying energy efficient systems, being less than 18 months away from their scheduled introduction, the new engine formula continues to prove a divisive issue with concerns over the cost of the technology for customer teams in particular.

In recent days Bernie Ecclestone, a long-time critic of the 2014 rules, renewed his calls for the engines to be canned, suggesting that FIA president Jean Todt may scrap them altogether or delay their introduction, a stance he stays Ferrari’s Luca di Montezemolo backs.

“I listened to the noise of the engines in (Ferrari’s headquarters at) Maranello the other day, the new engine and the old engine, and even Luca di Montezemolo said it sounded terrible and didn’t like it,” Ecclestone told the Hindustan Times, going on to suggest that FIA president Jean Todt “will get rid of it”.

“I think Luca is also saying we should suspend it for two or three years, he added. “I think it is sensible to get rid of it and stick with what we have got. It is much cheaper than the new one. It probably could be 30% of the price.”

The continued uncertainty over Cosworth’s 2014 plans, and the recent suspension of Craig Pollock’s independent engine firm PURE’s operations over funding, has created the prospect of there being only three engine suppliers to serve the whole grid when the new-spec engines come in for 2014.

And with the several fold increase in the development cost of the drastically new designs set to be passed on to the customer teams, Marussia chief Lowden admits he has real concerns over the sustainability of the grid.

Speaking in an interview with the October edition of the JA on F1 podcast – which you can download and listen to directly here – Lowden said: “Looking back over the last two or three years, one of the things that’s really been surprising is just how much the goalposts have moved in terms of things like cost control or resource restrictions and things like that.

“Also uncertainty over engines for 2014, which I think is potentially one of the biggest threats to the sustainability of large numbers of the teams on the grid, and that really shouldn’t be the case.

“Introducing any new step is good for a sport – you need to be innovative, you need to be relevant, that’s absolutely for sure. But it has to be done with sustainability at the heart of it.

“We’re all running businesses, we have responsibilities to our employees and there’s an awful lot of investment, time, effort and devotion that goes in from a lot of people. We owe it to those people to ensure that this sport is sustainable and has a long and bright future.”

Expressing concern that the 2014 engines will only increase the notion that spending more money is the only way to success in F1, Lowden added: “I think most fans aren’t too worried whether it’s a V4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 – who cares? It has to be fast, it has to make a noise, preferably environmentally friendly, although I think there’s an awful lot that the teams can demonstrate in other ways with carbon footprint and the like.

“But the key thing is we have to maintain and create great competition, that’s what people want to watch. My own view is that we owe it to the sport to promote a regulatory framework that has the fans at the centre of it. That is ultimately what pays the bills.”

Any about turn in the 2014 plans would certainly require a delicate approach given both Mercedes and Renault, in particular, have committed their futures to the sport in part due to the opportunities presented by the new more environmentally-friendly technology.

Mercedes, having only last week signed up to the new eight-year Concorde Agreement and lured Lewis Hamilton to spearhead its assault on the world titles, is confident its F1 team will be very well placed to take advantage of the new format.

Listen to the full interview with Graeme Lowden and lots more on all the latest goings on in Formula 1 in the new edition of the JA on F1 podcast. Download it directly here or visit iTunes.


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It’s not the idea of V6s that bothers me, I’m fine with a V6, Turbo or not. The thing that bothers me is the slicing of the Rev Limit down to something that some road cars are close to.

If they go V6 turbo, they should let the rev cap be increased back up to 21 000.


I just do not get the whole “green thing” PR spin. racin’ is what it is. so is Futball and the NFL and even Golf.

making the World a better place because of the trickle-down technology never held water, and never will. how many air bags are there in an F1 car?? how much high-tensile steel is there in an F1 chassis?? likewise, just how much carbon fiber is in the chassis of ur family car?? u prolly all get it.

I totally agree with Lowden on this issue. stupid is as stupid does. “Thanx” FIA…


Here is a link to the proposed replacement engine:

Ought to be plenty “green” but I’m not too sure it’ll be stiff enough to act as a structural member!


200 Euros is indeed madness. Quick question, how many watts and liters of fuel were consumed in the process? and how many seasons will it take the new engines to make up for that?

The guy saying “fans don’t care” about # of cylinders, I think he’s wrong. Even kids will be asking. Any muscle car must have at least a V-8, otherwise it’s perceived as a joke, not the pinnacle of motorsport.


uh, small correction, I meant 200 MILLION Euros above.


I don’t get the noise argument. Is everyone conveniently forgetting the 1980s existed.

Excepting the extra 100cc and the rediculous KERS rubbish it’s essentially the same setup as Renault, Honda, Ferrari and Cosworth ran. They sounded just fine to me.


jca, the last time i looked at the opec register, the list has continuesly increased. more than 20 oil discoveries are made every year, so how does that translate to ‘oil is running out in the world?’


The average size of discovery has been declining and the average unit cost of extraction has been rising. Significantly, in each case.

Hence the real increases in oil prices, in spite of the depressed global economy.


Its just logic that we are running out of dead dinosaurs.


It will eventually run out, but so will the sun.


Does no one remember that the Turbo Engines used in the 80’s were 1.5L V6 engines? They sounded good to me, so the noise won’t be a problem IMO


It was always wrong to impose the cost of a radical new engine on the teams against a general background of cost cutting. To pull it now after so much has been spent on its development would write of that cost. I wouldn’t want to see the grid reduced due to the new engine and its affordability for the lesser teams, so I think it would be right to pull it. And if it’s OK to waste money on new spec engines, stop messing around with other supposed cost savings and bring back in season testing!


could the FIA allow the customer teams to use a restricted V8? Torro Rosso continued to use a V10 for a season when the current engine regs were introduced. I seem to remember similsr grumblings about teams going to the wall etc then!


The idea that carbon dioxide emmitions causes global warming is false, as false as the millenium bug was but unfortunately, the world has already been convinced that that is the case so it’s perfectly sensible for F1 to improve it’s global image by appearing to care so much about the environment. not only that but the V6 engines would make the sport or business more efficience in the long term.

Eccleston may only have said that to generate more interest in the future of F1. After all history shows that he seems to always know what’s best for the sport.


The world is running out of oil, anything that puts off a war over oil is good.


the world is finding new deposits of fuel every month.


Isn’t it great how businesses have subtly corrupted the word “sustainability”. Ten years or so ago it was a green measure about a company’s impact on the environment, in terms of how it used resources and managed pollution etc. Now companies use it to talk about their own sustainability – i.e. whether a particular strategy will allow them to continue as a business. Still sounds good, because they’re using the word sustainability, but really it’s no different from talking about profitability.

Anyway, I’m sure some of the smaller teams might pull out because of the engine change. But that’s what happens with major changes like this. The sport will survive, and teams will still make commercial decisions on whether they want to participate or not.


EVERYbody uses or mis-uses that word now.

Its just another buzz-word and when I see it in an article or advert I just turn off and go somewhere else. Its all BS.

With any luck it’ll soon go the way of “paradigm shift”.

Adrian Newey Jnr

This is a rouge by Bernie knowing full well how much money has been spent by Mercedes on their new engines. He appears to be using the threat of changing the engine rules to get some leverage elsewhere.


I doubt that engine technology from F1 has ever helped road car engine development. It’s a myth that race fans seem to readily swallow without doubt.

Look at all the car manufacturers that have ever competed in F1 and I don’t think they have any road car engines that are technologically superior to their non-F1 road car competitors.

Road car engines are going to be developed whether or not there’s F1.

At this point, F1 is more entertainment than having anything relevant to road going automobiles.


Are you kidding? Heard of variable valve technology for example? Pretty much standard today on any road car, first appeared as Honda VTEC on their F1 engines in late 80s.


I’m looking f.orward to the new engine formula. One of the appeals to me about Formula1 is it’s cutting edge technology and for me this means abandoning engines from the last century. I’m sure threre’s people who didn’t like it when jets were introduced in aviation. No more propellers and that awful whooshing sound.


—- Warning warning — Off topic “propeller” post —


I have to relate this story about my 3 yr old daughter’s 1st encounter with a prop plane.

We were on a turboprop going somewhere

After a while..

Her: What are those things on the wings?

Me: the engines

Her: Oh. What are those things going around?

Me: Propellers.

Her: Oh. What do they do?

Me: They make the plane go.

Her: Oh. What if they stop?


Bio Fuel has reprecussions which affects food production especially in 3rd world countries, which is a whole other problem.

As mentioned many times above, many things can be done logistically to reduce the environmental effects of the F1 circuit. More permanent team facilities at the track (this investment by the organisers may be a risk because of the unreliable nature of the calendar)so they don’t have to haul things like motor homes and corporate facilities all over the globe. There are heaps more that they can do to reduce the amount of air travel required to hold a event. Out of curiosity, how many 747’s does it take to get all the teams to the track?

Now as for the engine…

The sound of an engine is so powerful in conveying the sensation of speed to the audience at a race. Most people make the argument how the sound doesn’t matter but unless you’ve been and heard it in the flesh you will never appreciate how amazing it really is. I’ve been to every Australian GP since 1997 (and Singapore in 2010) and I have heard all the modern F1 engines in all their glory and nothing compared to the sound of the V12’s and V10’s. During the recent GP weekends, hearing the 2 seater go around before an F1 session made me really appreciate the V10’s more as the current V8’s only sound to be at half throttle in comparison.

I have been to some historic racing events and have heard 1980’s F1 cars, and whilst they were loud, they sounded flat and pretty uninteresting (in my opinion). These engines from memory wren’s terribly reliable either (compared to the current generation) which would not fit in with the current engine allocation. Whilst my engineering isn’t overly strong, how would 2 less cylinders cope with roughly the same or greater torque (associated with a turbocharger – Im sure the conrods would take a beating) and HP – I think reliability may be sketchy when the V6’s come in.

I am big fan of technological advancement, but maybe baby steps is required instead of completely uprooting the current infrastructure (costly and wasteful). There are so many little avenues they can explore with real road car technology to reduce the amount of polution these cars make. For example I have a friend that works for Porsche and he was explaining to me the amount of difference Direct Fuel Injection had made for mileage and power on the 911, not to mention the clever control systems to constantly save fuel (a 911 is apparently more efficient than a Toyota Camry).

ERS has great potential too, Instead of making it a push-to-pass type system, It could be used to increase the torque when the engine is at its highest load to reduce the amount of fuel required during acceleration – They could specify a standard electric motor (with a max HP/Torque rating) to be adopted to all cars and have it run constantly, the only limit to it would be how much the teams are willing to sacrifice the weight balance for more batteries.

Whilst this is only a couple of ideas, I’m sure small technological advancements like this could be gradually added over time to the current generation engine, which would spread the cost and burden creating a completely new engine package, fuel system etc whilst making it instantly reliable. I say hold off the engines for a few years at least, refine some technology on the current generation engines and then consider the swap.



Steve, the only catch here is that F1 has traditionally been a feeder of technology to car industry and not vice versa. Today’s F1, has absolutely no relation to road cars with the exception of having four wheels. Today’s F1 cars are in some aspects technically way behind VW Golf Mk7 for example. Is this right approach? If it is, and we can say that from financial reasons it is, than we can go back to carburetor engines, which I believe are still used in NASCAR. Or do we say that F1 must be a technology leader, which also means producing tech advanced engines, and if so, than the direction being taken is the correct one. Montezemolo’s biggest problem with V6 engines is that they do not relate to what Ferrari is selling for road, not because of costs or any other reasons for that matter. Obviously the new engines suit Mercedes marketing much better and let’s not forget were a reason for Renault remaining in F1 a few years back.


So because the engines 30 years ago were unreliable, they will still be now?


On another note, since when were turbocharged cars considered fuel efficient. I’ve had 3 performance turbo cars and they were all shocking. My Mitsubishi Lancer Evo (4cyl Turbo)consumes almost as much fuel as a 6L V8 Holden!


I think the new engines will be great if it ensures that we will see more manufactures stay in the sport

I think both WRC and Moto GP have showed what happens when you do not ensure that this occurs


Why not run on bio fuel – either with the current V8s or the new V6s?

Running the V8s on bio ethanol etc for a few years as a ‘green’ stop gap could be a good compromise?

I’m pretty sure the WRC has been running bio for a few years, the V8 Supercars in oz run bio and of course Indy Car have used it for a long time.

James have the FIA said anything about bio fuels?


Burning food for fun (that is bio fuel in a nutshell) is becoming less and less sustainable as an argument.

Michael Grievson

You don’t have to burn food. McDonalds for example turn their old frying oil into fuel for their trucks.

I do agree however growing crops for fuel is unacceptble as long as there are starving people in the world.


>turn their old frying oil into fuel

Which is great, and worth doing. Otherwise that oil would be completely wasted. But it’s a micro solution to a macro problem.

It’s not scalable.


I never had a problem with the old 1.5l turbo’s and I don’t see a problem switching to 1.6l with increased Kers in 2014.

Of course they will be more expensive. If Graeme Lowden is so concerned about the cost, why doesn’t he suggest other alternative design restrictions.

You could say for example, ban the use of wind tunnels from the first race of the season to the last, although that wouldn’t go down well.

An interesting cost saving initiative could be to allocate prize money relative to your operating budget. So the FIA would stipulate a desired budget, operate above that and your prize money is reduced on a sliding scale. Operate below and it is increased.

Although the likes of HRT and Marussi are generally derided for their performance, there must be an absolute chasm between their budget and what Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren etc operate on.

Blaming the potential demise of some teams on the 2014 engine regs is a poor argument.


Do you not think that the engine manufacturers should be using F1 as a brand more to fund the new engine program, I wonder how much Renualt made from the Williams deal with the Clio some 20 years ago? it couldn’t of been a flop as they did a 2nd.


BE talk about engines Is just crap and isn’t it convenient that it just happens at the Ferrari factory where FIA chief Jean Todt was ex chief. I bet Mercedes will say “well just come down & listen to our state of the art engine which sounds even better than the current v8 , uses less petrol has more power & can run enough electricity to run the whole pit garage over a weekend wirelessly ”

The whole point is the teams wanted this and debated it for many months before agreeing on it. I don’t believe for 1 minute it is purely the costs because everyone would have known it would have costed substantially more. It is very relevant for F1 to go down this path & the technologies invested in this area will only develop manufacturers road car technology further- this is Ferraris chance to join the 21 century rather than wait for its road car program to run its “natural course”. I don’t think the manufacturers should pass on the full costs as they will be benefitting long term on their road cars from the development- not to mention other racing programs. I can’t see Mercedes doing an about face after spending so much money, signing a Concorde agreement & new driver just because right now Ferraris engine doesn’t sound right !

If all the teams agree to it and the sustainability of some teams is in jeopardy perhaps the FIA needs to step in and fund some of the costs to the smaller teams based on their share of the revenues compared to the larger teams.


F1 develops future road car technology, I remember Prost driving a paddle shift, semi-auto gearbox in a Ferrari long before a road car ever dreamed of it. If the road needs smaller and more efficiecnt engines then F1 needs to develop it for them. Marussia and HRT calibre teams can fill the grid anytime. I would rather see BMW, Porsche, Toyota and the like using F1 as an R&D to push new technologies. F1 will go on and on forever cutting costs, but better to bring value for money. Making parts last longer, engines better and more durable is the best way to keep teams in, not cutting costs. Let’s not forget that cost-saving is not about some ideal, it is all about filling the grid in the end.


Cars stuck on eight year old engine designs is hardly the pinnacle of motorsport that F1 purports to be.

Besides, what’ll be different in three more years? More money – doubt it? Cheaper engines – doubt it?

We’ll just go through this again.


Indycar have been running similar spec V6 turbo engine’s this year & having attended 3 races (Indy 500, Mid-Ohio & Fontana) I thought the engine’s sounded great.

Regarding the increased costs, Its always going to be the case that initial R&D will cost more, But overtime the running cost’s will decrease & by 2016 I can see engine costs been around what they are currently, If not a bit lower.

I recall when the current V8 formula was introduced in 2006 many of the same arguments were been used to try & stop it, Especially the sound & cost argument.

A few years down the line nobody was complaining about the sound & the cost of running the units had decreased so that also became less of an issue.


Meant to add a link where you can hear the Indycar engine’s-

Something to remember is that the F1 units will have higher rev-limits than whats used in Indycar so the F1 V6 Turbos should sound louder at high revs.


Reducing the carbon emissions elsewhere in F1 is missing the point. The reason for the more carbon friendly and innovative engines is to feed the technology back into real engine manufacturing where the potential benefits are global and enormous.


Pity they cancelled the 4s for V6s then.

Unless the V6s are somehow relevant to the straight-3s most of us are going to be driving soon.


The new bmw 3s are a 6 cut in halve, so yes.


I’ll bet this is the one area of F1 tech where they *do patent stuff.

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