Parity, lower costs and high technology – F1 team bosses discuss future engine rules
Chinese Grand Prix 2017
Posted By: Editor   |  07 Apr 2017   |  10:53 pm GMT  |  100 comments

Several team bosses discussed the future direction of Formula 1’s engine rules today; with different opinions offered on what power plants the championship should use from 2021.

Following a meeting between the FIA and F1’s current engine manufacturers last week – which was also attended by Ross Brawn on behalf of Formula One Management and representatives from OEM companies not currently involved in the series – the governing body issued a statement explaining that a broad agreement had been made to make the new engines cheaper and nosier than the current hybrid V6 turbo power units.

The exact specifications of the future engines are still being discussed, but the outcome of the meeting suggested they would become simpler, while retaining high power levels and remaining relevant to road car technology.


The engine proposals were discussed during the team principals’ press conference at the Chinese Grand Prix, which is taking place in Shanghai this weekend.

Toro Rosso’s Franz Tost, Sauber’s Monisha Kaltenborn, Haas F1’s Guenther Steiner, Force India’s Bob Fernley and Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul were all asked for their thoughts on the future direction for F1’s engine regulations.

Tost – who’s team has run Renault and Ferrari engines since the V6 turbo regulations came in at the start of the 2014 season – and Kaltenborn both called for parity between the different power trains, and the former offered his thoughts on the high cost of the current units.

He said: “The current engine is simply far too expensive. From the technology side, it’s a fantastic engine, it’s extraordinary technology but it’s therefore also very, very expensive.

Franz Tost

“Regarding the parity and the costs,” he continued. “This is now in the hands of the people who make the regulations and if the development is restricted from the beginning onwards with very strong regulations then I think we will achieve the goals with the parity and the costs and the sound, it should be able to find a solution that the fans are happy with, the music of this new engine.”

Costs are also a major concern for Kaltenborn, who outlined her belief that engine performance should not be the factor that determines success in F1 after 2021.

She said: “We want them to come down to an affordable level. But more importantly there should be a certain parity amongst the powertrains. We wouldn’t want that the engine should be the main denominator or differentiator in performance. So what’s very important is the parity and the costs.”

Although the V6 turbo engines have divided opinion among F1 insiders and fans, the technology they use is at an extremely high level. Engineers have noted that the current power unit is more powerful than the V8s and V10s used in previous eras, while breaking new ground in terms of efficiency.

Steiner and Fernley argued that F1’s future engines should not drop the technological advancements used in the current units.

“The technology in this engine is amazing for everybody involved in engines, this is an amazing technology, so now we go backwards and maybe invest more money to develop something which is actually not as sophisticated as this,” said Steiner.

Fernley added: “I think that the principle of the current engine shouldn’t just be abandoned, a lot of work has gone into it but I think it could be simplified a little bit. I think a lot of the things that we’re doing perhaps go beyond what even the most sophisticated of fans is understanding, so we could come back a little bit, get the cost right, obviously get the power and the noise right and move forward but you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

Abiteboul, who represented the only engine manufacturer at today’s press conference, described his belief that F1’s future engines should retain their relevance to road car technology. This was a crucial argument that led to F1 adopting the hybrid engine rules in the first place, with Renault arguing in the early part of this decade that it would quit the championship if such technology was not implemented.

He said: “I don’t think that Formula 1 can afford to turn its back on some things that are relevant to the manufacturer, given the current business model of Formula 1. Formula 1 could completely change to a different business model and go for something that is really different and not road-relevant but that would be a brave manoeuvre.”

Cyril Abiteboul

Abiteboul also believes that the future engines should continue to incorporate electrical elements, but suggested the MGU-H could be dropped after 2021.

He said: “I think everyone agrees that there should be some element of electrification. We don’t necessarily see some road relevance or contribution to the show to an element like MGU-H, so that this orientation for the future, I think the whole debate would be on the architecture of the internal combustion engine which will be an interesting debate and some things that I guess will keep us busy for the next few months.”

Another meeting between the FIA, FOM and the engine manufacturers is expected to take place in May and the governing body has tasked the parties to come up with proposals for the new power units. Those ideas will then be regularly assessed going forward as F1 again heads towards its next new era.

What do you think about the comments from team bosses on potential new F1 engines for 2021? What approach do you think the championship should adopt? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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what will happen to the very expensive but very beautiful sounding exotics like ferraris if the trend towards the rather silent albeit faster perhaps electric vehicles becomes complete?


The simple answer to everything we are discussing is to have a cap on spending. Give the teams the max length and width of car and let the team who comes up with best ideas win. That means no limit on engines or aero. The 1 thing i hate about f1 is the teams winging about someone elses technology break through because they didnt come up with it. If you want racing and road relevance let them design and race what ever they want.


F1 is not about parity, it’s about technological superiority, power, speed, the absolute pinnacle of what is possible and the biggest challenge for the worlds best drivers, if you can’t deal with that then find another, more boring, formula. All the cars in FF are the same and that racing is only interesting to the drivers, their relative and the teams.


I do not see why F1 should be road relevant, leave that to Formula E. F1 is the pinnacle of performance and should not be trying to be eco friendly,

The fans want loud screaming engines preferably 8 or 12 cyclinders and no restrictions on fuel. It’s up to the teams to produce engines that do or don’t need refuelling and work out tactics to make both work.

Keep the engines really simple and reliable and thus cheap! I can worry about being green in my real car, formula 1 is all about escaping relaity and I am sure 20 gas guzzlers racing 20 races per year won’t have much impact on the environment.

Perhaps we can encourage the cars to burn hydrogen rather than petrol so we get all the noise and none of this stupid battery crap. I still believe the environmental damage caused by all the rare metals in batteries (and the pollution shipping the constituents of batteries around he world) used in modern cars causes more pillution than just burning hydrogen in the engine.

I am sure someone can come up with a way of producing hydrogen that does not need electricty from fossil fuels. That way I would support going green and I would be happy to run that in my road car. The beauty of pumping hydrogen means that the existing petrol station infrastructure could be slowly converted over from petrol to hydrogen as the number of petrol and diesel cars declines and hydrogen powered ones increase. And you have none of this bloody waiting around for hours for your battery to charge!


2nd paragraph 9th last word – likely noisier rather than nosier.
Love this site guys. Keep up the good work


Engine builders want more tech. Engine buyers want less cost. A few comments have already said why not ask for aero parity since aero is the main difference? I say open the regs and let natural selection take over– pure competition, best cars, best engines, best drivers. If you achieve the trinity you win. If not you lose. Otherwise, just put a bullet in the beast to put it out of its misery. Most importantly, stop whining.


High tech = high cost and that’s just the way it is.
Anyone thinking otherwise is kidding.


Agree- evolve or race go-karts where the driver can make real difference (aside from team mate battle). F1 needs to revert to a primal competition rather than a regulated environment where everyone is equal regardless of talent (like government funded pre-school).


Just a thought. Imagine if the fia reverted back to 2004 rules for 2021 but with slicks. With the advancement in technology the cars would be monsters. Nice and light. Probably 1200bhp. Now that would be amazing to watch. Probably too fast for the human body tho.


Hi all,
Perhaps I’m missing something but could someone please advise me of a single technology that has been transferred from the current F1 turbo hybrid machines to our road cars? Yep, just one will do. I ask that because, after doing some (admittedly) quick research this morning, I haven’t been able to find anything…nothing at all. And, that is after having these boring, low revving, ultra-quiet 1.6L machines on the track for some 7 or 8 years now.

I first looked at the fundamental power plant but the direction has clearly been from road cars (notably the amazing Toyota Prius hybrid with its energy recovery and other sophisticated engineering systems) to F1 with F1 evolving it to a higher level for racing. I then looked at brakes and, again, the fundamental design of regenerative braking came from road cars (again the Prius hybrid and also others) to F1. Then to wheel/tyre combination and here we have F1 living in the past with tiny wheel diameters and bulbous high sidewall tyres that we haven’t seen on road cars since the 60s. In fact, pretty well every sports car has had 30-series profile rubber and large diameter wheels for around 10 years now. I then looked at visibility aids and, again, the road cars are way ahead with their growing use of multi-camera video to supplement glass mirrors leaving F1 way behind with its (still) total reliance on 2 tiny rear view mirrors which provide essentially NO awareness of adjacent or approaching competitors. And, aside from the embarrassing lack of vision for the F1 pilots, while our road cars are progressively getting more and more anti-collision technologies (with numerous sensors including radar) F1 is living in the past again with absolutely no modern day collision avoidance (or even collision alerting) technology.

I could go on, of course, with numerous more examples but I’ll leave it there. Looking forward to some enlightenment of what fundamental technologies these turbo hybrid F1 machines have purportedly brought to the cars we drive.



@ Ian james…you have made some very good points there. I have had similar thoughts. Some time back i read in an american business journal that it has been estimated to have cost Mercedes Benz in excess of one Billion dollars, yes, one billion dollars, since they first started the hybrid PU research for F1 inclusion. They, mercedes, actually employ in excess of 1500 people for their F1 program! In a dumbed down assessment, that would be to actually build and supply 20 PU’s plus all the ancilliaries to support that program…but 1500+? Why, because they can and guess who pays for it? The car buyers. You and me. No one, least of all me, would do anything but acknowledge the engineering expertise and prowess that they have exhibited but really, that is over the top IMO. It doesn’t have to be that way. Bernie Ecclestone knew that cheaper sophisticated engines could be introduced with an equivalency formula to take away the power of the manufacturers and still produce race car performance that would be as fast as the current crop. The manufactures were then forced to lower their prices but only marginally and guarantee supply. Bernie won that little argument. That’s why Liberty need to make serious changes and together with the teams open up the competition.


Hi Kenneth,
Thanks for that. So, unless some more enlightened readers provide some FACTS to the contrary, the answer to my question on precisely what the F1 turbo hybrid machines have brought to our road cars appears to be ZERO. Yep, no technology transfer at all in 8 years….absolutely NOTHING!

Just to recall some basic facts that I’ve tabled in my admittedly rare posts to this column over the last few years, the FIA, on a clearly misguided mission to somehow lift F1’s ‘green credentials‘, reduce costs and achieve ‘road relevance’ (yep, the aim was all 3), went down a deliberate path of WRECKING the extraordinarily successful, truly amazing 3L V10 formula (followed by the less extraordinary, less amazing but otherwise not too bad 2.4L, V8 formula) with a formula that would save a few kLs of fuel each race weekend but did absolutely nothing to save the millions of litres of aircraft fuel used to freight the F1 circus around….you can work out how many MLs of fuel has already been used this year to travel to the first two Oz and CHN events.

And, having achieved not a scintilla more performance than the relatively simple, amazing sounding, 20,000 rpm V10s of 2005, the FIA inflicted us (the paying public) with boring, low revving and truly appalling sounding 1.6L turbo hybrids! At a cost of some billions of Euros. Yes, BILLIONS OF EUROS!

If one had wanted to find a way of totally removing the excitement and passion of an F1 race, this was certainly how to do it. And, after some 8 years of this rubbish formula, the FIA is now walking into walls, trying to figure out what went wrong! And, needless to say, so are F1’s new owners!

But back to my original question. What has this F1 turbo hybrid formula brought to our road cars? And, I’d like FACTS please, no generalisations that can’t easily be cross-examined.



@ Ian James….How surprising haha. Not one response to your question and i wonder why? The sooner Todt is removed from the scene the better. His lame attempts to claim the Motoring Moral High Ground are really dumb and irrelevant. The fans and followers of F1 make it all possible and he still doesn’t get it. His quote that ‘society wouldn’t allow a return to high tech non hybrid engines’ is all the proof you need. Which society would that be? Brain surgeons, stamp collectors and taxidermists? Finally don’t hold your breath until you get any answers to your most pertinent request…..


It’s fine for all these team people to pontificate about what they want, but here’s business and marketing 101… give your customers (in this case, the fans) what THEY want or you are on a limited commercial life. And since when, in the history of F1 racing, has being road relevant been the guiding principle? If you want to go down that trail go play in Touring Cars or start designing self-driving race cars to stay “road relevant” since that’s the way that road cars are evidently going. Last week it’s someone saying society wouldn’t accept V8/V10 engines (when the fans are screaming out to bring them back), and this week it’s about being road relevant. Scary that these people are major players in this sport and seem to have no understanding whatsoever of their market… you know, the people like us that actually pay money to go see these cars and drivers race, and who the sponsors and advertisers want to connect with. In other words, we the fans are where the actual revenues for all this comes from and yet the people discussing the future rules either wilfully ignore us or are completely disconnected with their market. They should get out in the stands a bit more and talk to the people who will keep them in business.


All the drivers as well as the public want the naturally aspirated engines back. F1 has no obligation to develop anything because it’s a sport, no a lab. If the different car manufacturers want to develop and build hybrid cars they can go ahead and do it.
Naturally aspirated F1 cars were lighter, cheaper and as powerful as the turbo-hybrid version.
Just open up the regulations. Establish a maximum engine capacity, be it 3.0 liters or whatever any just let the manufacturers build them with any number of cylinders they wish. That will sell more tickets and sponsorships than anything else.


That will sell more tickets and sponsorships than anything else.

in the WORLD!


I fully agree. First remove Todt and then we can all move on to what racing should be. Fast, Furious,Formidable and Affordable.


The peak of F1 for most of us was the screaming V10’s. Anyone who has experienced these machines thundering down a track would agree. 20 thousand RPM is awesome! Which fans care about ‘road relevance’?? BRING BACK OUR V10’s. They were the most exciting machines in F1; period!


Truth. I remember watching the V10 cars scream through Eau Rouge at Spa years and it was one of the most amazing spectacles you would ever see.


Correct. I would, however be just ok with an 18,000 rpm V8


The only substitute for cubic inches is rectangular money.
Stroker McGurk


There is no replacement for displacement.


Why can’t we have a mix of engines. Turbo hybrid. N/a. Give the n/a more fuel.
Big 3.0 v10. Current hybrids. And maybe a twin turbo version. That would really spice up the racing. Hybrids would have more power and torque and use less fuel but weigh a tonne. N/a less power but lighter and cheaper.


I guess if they want true ‘road relevance’ they should go driverless and a hundred percent electric!
That seems to be the desired direction of a few for the future of road cars.

To me it represents a living nightmare, but then I like powerful petrol driven road cars and driving. Perhaps I am a dinosaur, but as long I have my V8 and a fast twisty A road I’m happy.


So, tongue in cheek, if F1 goes really ‘road relevant’ in the near future, so autonomous electric cars racing each other, will the teams have to download Hamilton’s, Alonso’s, Vettel’s, and Ricciardo’s brains into the computers, or will some idiot suggest that they all run with a single driver ‘model’? Just saying………………………


On engines and future of formula 1 I posted this about a month ago in my debut post on this site: I think it was most like comment of all time, James can confirm this, my point is the current direction and engines have fallen far short of expectations.
WOW. [mod] F1 is fantasy motoring and has nothing and never did have anything to do with public motor safety or family road-cars. It is about entertainment first and knowledge / technology transfer second. The mere fact that JT thinks that modern global society is watching and judging F1 is hysterically delusional [mod]
The hypocrisy [mod] is breathtaking. Eco engines for a racing series that uses more air miles than almost any other? Are you kidding me? This ivory tower, pc thinking has destroyed the enjoyment of the sport and many other pastimes as well to be honest. It is the entertainment value that attracts eye balls and hence sponsors – manufactures clearly wanting to tap into the exposure. Mobile billboards, nothing more and nothing less, can we get that straight please? So if you make them look good, sound good and go fast, people are going to watch, if they are not, or too hard or expensive to watch then people will watch or do something else. Its very simple. Soundless V6 Turbos are not the solution and if they were axed, and the manufacturers left it would not be the end of the world, F1 doesn’t need OEM’s – manufactures need the exposure that F1 gives them. F1 would be just fine if it were a 20m a year budget with a bunch of garaistas doing they’re own thing driven by passion, ingenuity and a some drivers looking for the thrill of the challenge. It would just mean that all the hangers on would be out of business and that has absolutely nothing to do with climate change – its called money. Things that make you go hmmmm.


Forget engine parity. This is f1 not gp2. I want engines that scream. I want 1200bhp. I want technology I can only dream of. This is f1. Let’s get back to 93. Different engines. Ie v6.v8.v10. Let’s just give each car 140kg of fuel for race and let them decide how to use it. Let teams choose what tyres they can use and get rid of having to pit for tyres. Variation is what’s needed. Can they not keep these engines and make them twin turbo?.


I think the new engines should be completely free to design with a few limitations:
1) standard connections to the chassis so they are easily interchangeable between manufacturers
2) same engine per weekend but free to change from race to race
3) maximum engines per year (e.g. 6).

Teams could be free to use a V8, V10, V6, V6 hybrid and change per race.

It may sound expensive at first to develop but variety of engines is good. Why force everyone to use the same engine tech.


V6 turbo, no MGUH? Sounds ok to me, perhaps whatever it is the manufacturers are spending so much money on could be looked at, maybe a standardised turbo to limit costs? The cars are going to get a lot faster with the new regs, and at some point a lap time reduction will be required on safety grounds, so perhaps a drop down to somewhere around 800BHP would be ok? It wouldn’t bother me, and without the MGUH the cars would be quite a bit lighter as well.


Dropping power for safety reasons seems unnecessary for me, it’s the pinnacle of motor sport not


Very sad to see them completely disconnected from us fans. Road relevance, cost savings blah blah blah…really? Bring back NA V10s and dump this useless PU, everything will be fine.


Yes yes yes, this is exactly what I’ve been saying all along.

V10 for life.


Nothing kills a vibe more than someone saying ‘road relevant’.

Aero isnt road relevant and neither is slicks built to a specific spec. The ‘road relevance’ is engineers trying to secure their income by convincing large manufacturers to invest a ton on R&D. I appreciate the technology but Tesla is proving it is already redundant. Self driving electric cars is ‘road relevant’.

There is no need for the engines to be anything more than 3.5 non-turbo 8-12 cylinder. Simplicity means differences are minor. F1, and racing in general, will struggle unless it figures out exactly what it is.


Teslas are a joke, a Model S can’t even make 6 laps of SMSP without running out of charge. The battery pack weighs over 500 kgs, that’s 10 times the weight of petrol which will go 10 times the distance.


Tesla has overtaken the market value of Ford and GM.

Whichever way you cut it this F1 road relevance thing has absolutely NO long-term validity unless it becomes electric and self-driving.


Let me be the first and probably last to say that I think the current PU are awesome and should stay.
However,ditch the fuel restrictions and rev limit.
Cost will naturally come down over time and performance equalisation will also level off.
I find it hard to believe that Honda,Renault and Ferrari who are currently investing vast amounts to catch Mercedes will just roll over and say to hell with it,let’s change again.
Where does that leave the investment profile for the next few years?
All this nonsense about V8 V10 V12 returning is just the stuff of fairytales.
List one thing about Jean Todt that even remotely suggests he’d agree to it. And let’s be clear, he is in charge of F1 regs,not Ross the boss.


I wouldn’t go as far as that. Let’s see who comes out on top if Liberty and all the teams decide that they want a change from these PU’s to something cheaper, faster [or as fast] and offerings from multi independent suppliers instead of the dictatorship enjoyed by the current manufacturers. If they really want to change the staus quo then alonside the engine changes let’s see multiple tyre suppliers as well instead of this ludicrous one supplier nonsense.



Absolutely agree. The posts calling for a return to V8s etc are indeed fairytales. It’s a parallel to the rapidly growing division in society – between those who understand/involved in science and technolgy, and those who are outside.

I wonder how long any of the manufacturers would stay, if the rules were simplified to the level that the usual suspects in forums, are calling for? Of course there is the suspicion that Liberty would like to turn F1 into something like open wheel NASCAR. Be careful what you wish for!


@ Iain R8….Why would any of the current engine suppliers leave if they could also build the new engines? They would garner the same amount of publicity/marketing chops if they were still to win races? What it would do is open up engine supply and then maybe we’d see real competition. Road relevance is nonsense as has been stated many times before. I refer you to the Chairman of Audi who, when asked why they were not in F1, as it was ‘deemed’ to have road relevance he simply said, ‘everything we need to know in regards to road relevance is already readily available from our DTM and WEC competition. ‘ Says it all really. IMO, which means very very little, i would think now that Audi have retired from LMP1 that, if the new engines are sophisticated and less complex that these current PU’s that they may become a supplier or even field a team of their own. Of course i’m just guessing/speculating/dreaming even!



“..why would they leave…”

Because F1 is positioned as the pinnacle of motorsports, in all aspects including engine technology. Ask why the new PU’s were introduced when we had stable and competitive engine rules. Answer – because manufacturers wanted something road relevant and up to date. The original idea proposed by the FIA and others, was a a common base ICE, possibly four cyl, with variations for F1 WEC etc. Of course politics entered and we have the current rules. Manufacturers might leave because they don’t get rules that allow them to potentially become dominant winners. No manufacturer enters F1 to be second, or should we say first loser. Also consider that they have invested zillions in the new PUs.


The road relevant issue is total nonsense….give me details of any tech from this billion dollar event that has trickled down to road cars and i mean ‘road cars’ not $500K supercars? All entrants to F1 know that only one of them can win and that applies to independents as well and manufacturers. It is the manufacturers along with a compliant FIA that caused these problems. The pinnacle of 2017 F1 tech has only just been able to power an F1 car past shumachers lap record in china which stood for 13 years and it’s taken ‘zillions’ to get there. Pathetic.


Finally, I found someone that I can agree with.

I, too, think we shouldn’t throw away all the money invested in these state of the art engines and should just make certain of getting their cost down, dropping the MGU-H.
In order to get them more “vocal” ditch the fuel flow and rpm limits, slapping twin turbos might help too, I personally don’t know if changing the V’s angle would influence the sound of the motor, but if it does, use the best available option.
Advanced technology and F1 should be intertwined, any “Stone Age” motors should stay in veteran cars, enthusiast’s chop shop builds and in museums.

Kaltenborn’s comments about F1 not being motor dependent are just laughable…
She just wants to get the best deal for her money, enabling her team to change the supplier for PU each year (if needed) based only on the price, without performance related costs.


Also who doesnt love a qualifying “hand grenade” engine , run as many engines as you want ,


Why does it have to be a v6? . If you go back to the original turbo era .1.5 litre formula , there were bmw 4 cylinders , v6 and v8’s and v12’s . Set a basic set of riles , capacity and maximum fuel allocation , and let the engineers build engines , they can gain road relevance qhen toyota builds its Yaris f1 special edition with a 1.5 litre turbo engine making 1000hp 😂😂😂😂


Seriously, who cares about road relevance? there is WTCC, WEC for that.

This is Formula 1 !!


Exactly. No one gives a toss.


No one gives a toss.

That’s an interesting point actually . At the time of writing there are less than 50 comments from around 30 different people – if Hamilton sneezes you get twice that. Personally I don’t care what engine is in the car V10, V8 or V6 – makes no odds to me, it really doesn’t .
I can absolutely appreciate that fans at the circuit might be more interested in the sound – but at home where 99.9% of the fans consume their F1. Who really notices ? Close racing , for me at least, is the crucial thing.


In the V10 era the first thing I did when I got to the track was put ear plugs in. The feeling in the gut was great, but the sound was absolutely painful to me. I actually don’t mind the current sound at all. In fact I like the fact I can hear the tire squeal during the braking phase as the drivers find the limit (or when they go over it). I also like the fact I can hear the commentary at the track which was pretty hard to do during the V10 days!

The track experience could be vastly improved by better access to the pits/drivers (lining up for 3 hours to get an autograph is not what I mean….) and better access to more detailed information (either on the big TVs and/or via app) during the race so its easier to follow the action. Hopefully Liberty bring at least that to the table.

Road relevance is a sham as far as I can tell. None of the manufacturers has adequately explained how the current technology is being applied to their road engines in a meaningful way. Most of the road technology was ahead of F1 anyway until, perhaps, most recently.

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