Friday, 17 June 2011

Splash & Dash: 2013 Engines - build it and they will come

With the FIA announcing a shift to 1.6 litre 4 cylinder turbo engines from 2013 in an effort to represent a more environmentally conscious Formula 1, the engine manufacturers seem split on the commercial implications to their organisations.

The current engine manufacturers in F1 are Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Cosworth.  Of these, only Renault and Mercedes have a substantial involvement in 4 cylinder engine manufacturers for their road cars. Ferrari currently manufactures V8 and V12 engines for their road cars with no 4 cylinder cars on the horizon.  Cosworth is a supplier of customer engines in whatever configuration they require, however they are concerned that the teams will not be willing, or able in some cases, to absorb the additional cost of developing the new engine, thereby making it a commercial risk for the manufacturer.

Renault is currently warning the FIA that they require the introduction of the 4 cylinder turbo engine in 2013 otherwise they will leave the sport.  The other manufacturers seem to have little to gain from the introduction of the new engine.  Mercedes have the best engine on the grid, Ferrari have no current use for 4 cylinder engines in their roadcar line-up and Cosworth may be left with a large development bill and no customers to buy them.

Why not run both engine configurations?  If Renault are so keen to move to the 4 cylinder, let them.  Revise the current proposal to allow higher maximum revs (currently 12,000 rpm) or higher turbo pressure (currently 500 bar) and don't freeze the development on the 4 cylinder engines.  Another alternative is to allow greater freedom of the energy recovery systems for the 4 cylinder engines.

By allowing both engine configurations to run at similar power levels, the most efficient engine should be the most appealing to the teams as this will allow a smaller fuel load to be carried.  At this stage I would guess that by the end of 2013, Renault would have their engine sorted and would be the unit to beat.  This may be history repeating itself for the French manufacturer, as it was Renault who started the F1 turbo revolution in the late 70's. As they have done before, build it and they will come.

No comments:

Post a Comment