F1 keeps faith with hybrid – but noisier, cheaper, high-revving engines on the cards
Ross Brawn
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Oct 2017   |  3:42 pm GMT  |  259 comments

THe first proper road map for the future direction of F1 under the management of Liberty Media and the FIA was laid out today, as the outline Formula 1 engine of the future was revealed.

THe power unit from 2021 onwards will retain the 1.6 litre V6 architecture, will still be hybrid, but the troublesome (for some) MGU-H, harnessing heat energy from the turbo, will be dispensed with while the kinetic energy regeneration will be beefed up and feature driver manual control, for tactical racing.

Fans who miss the loud, high revving engines of the past will have to wait to hear what an extra 3,000 rpm will mean to the experience of hearing F1 in the flesh.

The plan is for the FIA to publish the definition of the 2021 power unit at the end of this year.
According to a joint statement from the FIA and F1: “In order to uphold the objective of cost reduction, work will continue over the next 12 months to define certain elements of the Power Unit, but the design and development of the complete Power Unit will not be possible until all the information is released at the end of 2018. This aims to ensure that manufacturers continue to work on the current specification Power Unit.

During the remaining part of 2017 and 2018, the FIA and F1 will also work with the teams to establish power unit test and development restrictions as well as other cost containment measures.”

THe only details given today were as follows:

• 1.6 Litre, V6 Turbo Hybrid
• 3000rpm higher engine running speed range to improve the sound
• Prescriptive internal design parameters to restrict development costs and discourage extreme designs and running conditions
• Removal of the MGUH
• More powerful MGUK with focus on manual driver deployment in race together with option to save up energy over several laps to give a driver controlled tactical element to racing
• Single turbo with dimensional constraints and weight limits
• Standard energy store and control electronics
• High Level of external prescriptive design to give ‘Plug-And-Play’ engine/chassis/transmission swap capability
• Intention to investigate tighter fuel regulations and limits on number of fuels used

Ross Brawn

Ross Brawn, F1’s managing Director, Motorsports noted that the view of fans had been taken into account as well as manufacturers looking to enter F1 in future, such as Porsche.

He highlighted the spirit of collaboration between Liberty Media and the FIA as the basis for a carefully considered approach, with which the teams and manufacturers can collaborate: “The 2021 power unit is an example of the future way the FIA as regulators, F1 as commercial right holders, the teams and the manufacturers as stakeholders will work together for the common good of the sport,” he said.

“The proposal presented today was the outcome of a series of meeting which took place during 2017 with the current teams participating in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship and the manufacturers who showed their interest to be part of the pinnacle of motor sport.

“Also, we’ve carefully listened to what the fans think about the current PU and what they would like to see in the near future with the objective to define a set of regulations which will provide a powertrain that is simpler, cheaper and noisier and will create the conditions to facilitate new manufacturers to enter Formula 1 as powertrain suppliers and to reach a more levelled field in the sport.”

What do you think of this development? Are you happy that F1 will be on the right track with this plan for engines? Leave your comments in the section below

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Do these geniuses really think that the F1 400 million fanbase (and droping) want to see a 1600cc hybrid putz around the track? F1 is about dreaming big and going all out, not about limitations!! If given a choice between owning a MB A200, a Twingo or a MB GT-R, a 488 or F12, what do they think 99% of the fans will choose? the little 4 bangers or the V8s, V12s with unlimited power/consumption/tyres, etc? Their opinions are marred by their age and the economic interest of the bean-counters , not really the wishes of the sport fans. In other news , Football players will be limited to 64Kg weight , 175cm height , one ball and one pair of sneakers per season!!


I get the desire for reducing costs, but as we all know, if you restrict column A, teams will spend more on column B. Does anybody want to guess how much McLaren spent on their shiny low friction Vodophone paint?
The nine points listed so far are both good & bad.
Keep the 1.6 Hybrid?
Ditch the MGU-H?
Make the MGU-K more powerful & driver controlled?
Brilliant, this is the best suggestion so far.
Raise RPM by 3000?
This will work along with fixed achitecture & fixed turbos, but along with limited fuel varieties, these measures will neuter the very heart of Formula 1 that is the Engineers. F1 Engineers are some of the brightest minds on the planet & are able to think outside the box that mere mortals are packed into. By developing different bore/stroke ratios, vee angles, number & size of turbos & development of fuels, a mandated 3000 RPM is not necessarily required to achieve a certain outcome. By mandating all parties use the same system, we end up with NASCAR. Does anybody honestly watch NASCAR for the overtaking? No, we watch it because “Rubbin’s Racing”, the big one at Daytona, & it’s the only place on the planet where a car can be used as a weapon without the offender going to prison.
Standard energy store?
Really! With the world going battery crazy, why restrict development of the one thing the whole world needs.
Plug N Play swap capability?
Sweet. I’ll have a Red Bull chassis with a Ferrari motor & a Mercedes gearbox out of a Williams up to Barcelona, a Ferrari chassis with a Mercedes motor & box for Monaco, a McLaren chassis with a Mercedes engine & a Red Bull box for Canada.
Is this sounding like what you want Ross?
Sir, I respected you for the fight you put up for Schumi & Ferrari, but now it seems you are bowing to your new pay masters. Liberty both want & need to advance F1 & make sure it is good for television, but turning it into a cost controlled spec series is not the answer.
Having the worlds best drivers, engineers & technology all doing their utmost is what keeps people on the edge of their seats, hypnotised by the spectacle, & craving more.
Make the rule book thinner.
That is what’s good for television.


“Take the 3 litre V10 engines out of the 2 seat demo cars and put them back in the race cars. Give the drivers enough fuel to get rid of the laughable “lift & coast” so they can at least have enough fuel to “race” each other. For dry races make all three available sets of tires mandatory to use during the race with all cars to start on new hardest available tires. Teams will need to make clever strategy decisions on when to change to the other available tire sets. V10’s to be rev limited to 18000rpm and control ecu’s used. Enough engines available for the season to prevent the “limited running syndrome” during Grand Prix weekends. Deduct team points after 8 or 10 engines used in a season. Abolish penalties for gearbox failures. Just think of the savings in development costs. Manufacturers already have experience building V10’s so there is no need to spend massive amounts of money on development costs. Ban KERS and ERS and that saving alone will more than make up for the extra fuel used.”


I voted ‘No’. I am with the manufacturers on this, and they have spent millions developing this amazing technology. If F1 really must stick with hybrid technology, then I think that the proposal, which doesn’t even provide for twin turbo, is pointless. Dynosaur that I am, I certainly do miss the normally aspirated 3.0l and 3.5l V10s (and in the past V12, flat 12, and V8), but definitely not the pathetic 2.4l V8s. However, hybrid it is so I think the current PU specification is fine. This year, the cars have looked great (the best in many a year actually). The racing is top notch, and getting better as Renault converge enabling RBR and hopefully McLaren to join the party. It’s not broke so leave it alone. I couldn’t care less about the noise or lack thereof. Cosworth and Ilmor themselves have said that, even with the revised specification, they will need major external investment to contemplate it.


All change of regulations cost money. Is this change better value than working to improve and perfect current power units?

I doubt it.

This F1 disease of believing change will constrain costs is delusional.


F1 was at it’s best when DFV’s were being used. The 3 litre V10 engines made a great noise; the 2.4 litre ones were OK but more like bike engines due to the high revs. The current engines sound like a wet f**t !! They need to ditch fuel tank limitations as well. It is not an economy run. It is meant to be a race !! I have watched F1 since the 1970’s. Liberty should ask themselves why so many people watch Historic Masters F1?? It is good entertainment. Why do you think Bernie didn’t want them on the same bill as modern F1. F.Ford has more overtaking than F1. Do an Indy-car and give all teams an identical aero package. That will level the playing field !!!


For all those saying that modern F1 engines are no longer at the cutting edge, name me ONE racing series that has more extreme engines, just one. LMS P1 are probably on a par, but that’s it. PS A n/a V8 running up to 10k rpm is not high tech and employs agricultural methods. Advanced agricultural methods but still old fashioned and inefficient. Say what you like about the current crop of motors, they are extremely efficient and powerful for their size. I think it might be pointless to consider “unlimited fuel” as it defeats the whole architecture. To have a power unit capable of such power and efficiency racing for around 10,000 kms a year whilst only (ideally) using up to 4 different PU’s and components is nothing short of extraordinary. Compare that with McLaren’s 50+ engines a year just a few years ago, and then tell me in real terms that the current PU’s are “too expensive”. As for sound, they are quieter than the first turbo era it’s true, but they can not be called quiet by any means unless you are stone deaf, plus they make such interesting noises!


I think they are completely missing the point in getting more restrictive with the rules changes. If we want to see a cheaper product and better racing, the solution is very simple:

1) A very hard, strictly enforced budget cap for both teams and engine, including driver salaries. (With invasive auditing by the FIA, if necessary.)

2) Near complete technical freedom, as well as freedom with respect to manufacturing and buying parts from other teams.

Teams and manufacturers would be challenged to allocate their resources most efficiently and productively and would be incentivized to take risks and innovate. Entry into F1 for new players would be much easier. We’d have a wide variety of cars and more grid shakeups from race to race, as teams with less notariety would be incentivized to design their cars to specialize on certain tracks. (We could see, for example, more Force India at Spa 2009 situations.) Manufacturers could develop any specification engine they wanted- V4, V6, V8, V10, V12, whatever they think is the best way to get the most grunt for the buck.


You could not go to an F1 race without ear protection, and I have not been to one with the present engines, so I do not know how bad they sound in real life. On TV, I have always said that a few thousand extra revs would solve the problem by giving us the shriek we have been missing. Pardon the pun, but the proposed new engine reg. sounds good to me. Now, if they would just save a few Euros, and get rid a few thousand fins that create the dirty air. Maybe it could be a new “Clean Air” initiative.


I really miss the cheating in F1. It was part of the sport. Coming up with clever ideas and conceiling them to gain an advantage is all but gone now. Too much control. Remember the fan car? The duel wheel front? The blown diffusers? This is gone. By 2030 they will want to paint them all the same color.


If Honda and Renault could meaningfully close the gap in performance, their might be a future for hybrids in F1. Did it need to be so complex? For example, Did we need fuel flow limits? If you carry more fuel because the PU is less efficient, the extra weight is sufficient penalty. As far as I can see, fuel flow limits created the perversity of burning oil as a fuel and contributed to limiting the appeal of potential PU suppliers entering F1.


Please name ANY car company that has A Turbo Hybrid ( THERE ARE NONE ) so why the idiots on the FIA board are still demanding
These Fucking Hybrids , every Automaker still
HAS V/8 engines in production car’s & Trucks ,

If the FIA is concerned about to much pollution in Formula 1 why not run Menthanol
THIS is Used by the IRL for years , so why not in
Formula 1 .


My fave engine was and always will be the 1986 version of the V6 Turbo. Most especially the one Senna had in his Lotus Renault in the last races of 1986. The almighty scream of that thing was deafening and being within metres of the trackside guard railings, it rocked my body like an earthquake.
It was only a 1.5 litre, Twin Turbo, but unleashed 1200 BHP … A BRUTAL BEAST by anyone’s measure!
The Quali spec versions of F1 engines in 1986 were given the nickname “greanades” because they would actually melt the cylinder walls and eventually explode from the unbelievable temperatures of combustion. They only lasted approx 4-5 minutes … or 3 laps of Adelaide at full speed!
After watching the ‘86 season on TV, I knew I had to see and hear these things for myself, so I drove 750 km from Melbourne to Adelaide just to hear those “grenade” Quali spec engines at full noise. I’ll never forget it … FU@#ING AWESOME!
The only thing louder and faster was the appropriately named F1 11 fighter jet which broke the sound barrier over Adelaide on the Saturday. The track is surrounded by hills and city buildings so it is like an amphitheatre. The thunderous CLAP from out of nowhere all of a sudden caused tens of thousands of people to drop to the ground in fright, me included. We were frantically looking around at each other, in shock for a few moments, petrified and wondering if was a bomb. It even smashed windows in some of the surrounding suburbs.
That was the last time the RAAF ever broke the sound barrier near a town or crowd of people, such was the outcry from the public.
On the other hand … the crazy thing is, every single person, man woman and child that I spoke to over that 3 day weekend said they absolutely loved the awesome sound and full body “rumble” those F1 cars gave out.

That’s why I will always believe F1 cars should have those qualities … it’s a package which delights and tantalises all of the human senses at once.
You can smell them, see them, taste the racing fuel fumes and rubber, and best of all … you can hear them from where you stand or sit at any point on the track!

Hybrids are a very poor, hi-tech version that should stay in heavy road cars where they belong. Not in ultralight F1 cars … EVER!!!

Joseph E. Canzona

I agree with everything but would prefer a twin turbo.

Joseph E. Canzona

I agree with everything but would prefer a twin turbo


This is a follow up to my post supporting current engine development and against a regulation change.
Engines –
Recently Mercedes announced for the first time in the history of petrol engines, it’s new power unit was over 50% efficient. A remarkable achievement. The current power units produce more hp, more torque and all on much less fuel.
The best V8 was about 28% efficient.
Diesel engines in cars can be up to 35% efficient although larger types in cruise liners can be up to 60%. Unfortunately Diesel engines produce some pretty nasty exhaust gases.
The proposed power units will be a technological step backwards.
Formula 1 has always been about improving performance.
Reliability –
There is nothing inherently unreliable about the current design as shown by two manufactures. The other two just need to improve.
Cost –
Expect the cost to existing engine suppliers to increase. See my last post.
The only reason I can see in favour of the changes is that a new additional manufacturer may find it cheaper to design and supply engines to F1 teams, however, since the bulk of the existing architecture remains, the savings may be small.
The racing –
One engine manufacturer has caught up, another has almost caught up. Honda .. who knows .. maybe a bit longer.
If the idea is to make the power units. across manufacturers, to be similar in performance, the opposite could happen. Just at a time when everyone should have caught up and there is parity, there will be a regulation change. This gives the best engine manufacturer (whoever that might be) the opportunity to dominate again.



(First, make a gun cocking sound in your mind….then read this)

And so Arrivabene said Ferrari will not rule out wielding its unique and historic power of “veto” to stop changes it considers are wrong.

“At a certain point we apply our right to do a veto for good reason at that time,” he said.


Absolute nonsense from people you’d expect better from.
The current engines are just reaching convergence (excluding Honda) and we’re gonna start all over again just as Renault and Honda get on a par with Ferrari and Mercedes. It could be so easy……more fuel, more revs and more engines per season.
And for anyone foolish enough to swallow the line about engine costs being the ultimate evil in F1 take a read of the Paddy Lowe interview with Joe saward in which he talks about Mclaren using 200+ engines a year over 15 years ago.
Why do away with the mgu-h?
Because other teams can’t get it to work as well…..boo hoo.
This opening salvo suggests to me that they are gonna try and please everyone which means we’ll end up with a hack job.


On an aside – James, can you do an article on how many overtakes too place this year compared to the previous year before the regulations change? Would be curious to see the averages and if the ppl in power are looking on these stats.


James, on the subject of engine penalties, has anyone discussed the following idea:

Instead of grid penalties, which is confusing and can often spoil the show, why not just put penalties on Constructor points? So instead of 5, 10, etc, place grid penalties for changing engine parts, hand out points penalties of say, 2, 5, 10, etc. Negative points penalties will not apply, so if a car picks up a 10 point penalty and finishes 3rd, they only receive 5 Constructor points but if they finished 8th, they simply receive 0 points, not -6.

The advantages of this method is that it doesn’t penalise the driver but it does penalise a team’s potential Constructors’ finishing position and prize money. It also means that a back of the grid team doesn’t have to suffer the ignominy of embarrassing penalties when the fact that they are not performing well enough to score points is arguably penalty enough! I see no harm in letting those teams (e.g. McLaren Honda) do what they can to resolve their problems without throwing confusing (for the audience) penalties at them when they’re already not performing.

Tornillo Amarillo

Lowe fears if the 2021 engine plans could actually achieve the opposite of its desired effect as it denies the opportunity for regulation stability and team pace convergence. –Crash.



Only half jokingly, what’s wrong with a 900 bhp Formula Ford? No wings, no diffusers, no DRS, no KERS, no MGU-H, tires at competitors’ discretion. Engine? Ban pneumatic valvetrains. Max displacement normally aspirated: 2 liters. Max displacement supercharged, turbocharged, or both: 750cc. Permit two-strokes. Number and layout of cylinders? At competitors’ discretion. Permit front engines and front wheel drive.

More seriously, how can the regulations encourage variety of approach, with room for individual development of those approaches by multiple suppliers and teams? Maybe a (relatively) big, torquey 2.0 four cylinder can give and advantages at a point and squirt track like Monaco versus a V12 of the same displacement. Maybe a super- and turbocharged 750cc V8 could beat either. Or 1500cc two-stroke V6 might be a good solution.

The point is, unless it’s a spec series, the very word “formula” means there should be more than ONE solution to the challenges posed. Can that happen without ruinous costs? If it seems reasonable to try cutting off some areas from the start (banning beryllium for example), history shows that overall engine costs have increased since the FIA began restricting things like the number and layout of cylinders, maximum bore, bore center to center distance, center of gravity, number of valves and the like. That approach automatically means that the only way to gain advantage is at the extreme margins, an inherently expensive undertaking as we’ve seen.

Leave room to let someone take a completely different swing at it. They may still fail by going too complex (e.g., BRM H-16), but might succeed through ingenious simplicity (e.g., Repco-Brabham).

One last point regarding the much discussed efficiency: The pre-hybrid engines were extremely VOLUMETRICLY efficient. They were not as THERMALLY efficient. Efficiency boasting needs to be taken in the context of what KIND of efficiency is being claimed.

The criteria announced to are at least a start. Variety, obvious displays of driver control, close racing and sub $150 million (less, ideally) budgets are my overriding hopes for F1 going forward. Whether today’s announcements promote those developments, I’m not sure.


I voted No.
My love for F1 grew through watching brilliant engineers use their innovative skills to design and build the most extreme open wheel racing cars on the planet.
THAT was F1… that’s where it got it’s nickname … the pinnacle!
The more it is dumped down and has 20 replicants on the grid, it’s become the basecamp … halfway up the hill … nowhere near the top of the mountain.

Hybrid tech is extreme in every sense, granted. One of those extremes is weight. A disgusting word in the design offices of a race car constructor.
A Formula 1 car should be designed to be as light as possible with the power to weight ratio flying of the computer screen and up into the stratosphere.
Needing “batteries” (which is essentially what energy storage is) means dead weight. That’s great for ballast but it’s horrible for power and speed.
It’s obvious that these hybrids could push a car to 400 kph on long straights if they could cool them more efficiently. To do that they would need double the area to house bigger radiators and more air ducting.
Add “batteries”, heavy electrical components, hundreds of metres of wiring, bigger radiators, more ducting and you instantly need more power to push it all. It’s Catch 22! Not to mention that it then requires a man the size of a jockey to drive it because he can’t weigh more than 65kg! That discriminates against great drivers who are taller and heavier. As hi-tech as it is, the hybrid package really is ludicrous in F1!

Allow a more open set of parameters such as open slather on engine type and you instantly hand the situation back to engineers and boffins.
Can you imagine a diesel turbo up against a V10, V6 twin turbo, V8 turbo, Hydrogen engine, etc etc etc.
Pick one, find a manufacturer who wants to develop it and design your chassis around it and your choice of driver. Even if he is 6 foot 2 tall and weighs 80kg.

One huge thing that is now missing from F1 is the mystique about what will roll off the transporters at the first test of every season.
At present, other than the colour and design of liveries, we see extremely similar looking aero on all cars, with similar suspension, same PUs, weird front wings that look like Da Vinci designed them while he was upside down and full of cheap red wine. Those front wings cost more money than a small house and when they all hit the track together it’s the same old song … follow the leader!
It’s just my humble opinion but money shouldn’t be a factor in F1. If you can’t afford it, race in a category where you can.
Budget caps attract teams that want to be in F1 for the wrong reasons. Glitz and glamour … not innovation, competition and success.
If you’re there, you should commit to finding like-minded companies to partner with and collectively spending a massive budget … and more if necessary.
Allow unfettered engineering genius’ to run free and we eventually find ground-breaking technologies which astound us and attract us to them like moths in a trance around a flame.
Continue to dumb these people down and make them work within extremely tight boundaries and inevitably, (sadly), all you end up with is very similar concepts because there’s very little room for true and purposeful innovation.
That’s what the lesser categories are for!


@ Jack… another very good post.


Not sure why we need noisy cars so much. Noise is wasted energy, and if F1 is going to stay at the “pinnacle of motorsport,” then we should not care so much about sound.


There are three major and probably irreconcilible problems with F1. One is the FIA who have completely lost their way, two is Liberty who are only in it for the money and three, the sport has been taken over as the plaything of the big car manufacturers who now have far too much influence. If the status quo remains, significant improvement for consumers does not seem a likely outcome. What we have is still of value to those not losing interest due to lack of FTA coverage. Things ain’t what they used to be but who knows maybe even the naysayers like me will have a change of heart and start handing over money to Liberty to buy streaming or whatever.

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