Just days after announcing he will step back from his role within the Red Bull Racing team at the end of this year, design genius Adrian Newey is speaking out about his concerns for the sport going forward.
The Briton has already admitted the more restrictive aerodynamic regulations in recent years, that has seen various innovations and areas for exploration outlawed, have left him frustrated and wanting to seek an alternative challenge elsewhere.
Prior to 2014, as F1 prepared for the new V6 hybrid era, it was largely agreed that the new engine formula would take the emphasis away from aerodynamics and back onto the development of engines.
That has been realised as Mercedes have dominated the season with their far superior V6 unit, while Red Bull, who are widely regarded to have the best car aerodynamically, have been left trailing by a vastly underpowered Renault power unit.
Looking ahead to the future, Newey believes the sport must be wise in how it approaches the planned freeze on engine development so that one supplier is not left well ahead of the others.
If not, he warns those suppliers who are disadvantaged by the engine freeze may simply walk away from the sport.
“The current set of regulations are engine orientated,” he told Autosport. “At some point in the coming years presumably that will settle down.
“There is grave danger, with the freeze happening progressively over the next 18 months, because it’s not apparent if one manufacturer ends up with an advantage as to what happens at that point.
“Is that advantage maintained for ever more, in which case the rest of us give up?
“It doesn’t seem to me to be a particularly satisfactory situation at the moment. The regulations need more of a fundamental rethink in my opinion.”
Currently the designs for 2014 were homologated prior to the start of the season with changes only permissible on reliability and safety grounds, however, during the winter the current suppliers will be allowed the change the designs as they wish ahead of the 2015 season.
In time development of more parts of the new power units will be frozen meaning there will be less opportunity for an inferior supplier to catch up to those in front.
Though the previous V8 engines were frozen in development for around five years the difference between the suppliers was small, which meant it worked well, though it did create the greater dependence on aerodynamics.
Many are pleased with the greater influence development on engines and mechanical technology has in F1 now, arguing it is what the sport is supposed to be all about, and as Daniel Ricciardo’s win at the Canadian Grand Prix proved, despite having easily the best power unit, Mercedes are still vulnerable to poor reliability.
The team has since admitted a new cooling solution used for the first time in Montreal caused the Energy Recovery Systems to overheat on both cars and led to Lewis Hamilton retiring for the second time this season.
Team boss Toto Wolff and Chairman Niki Lauda have admitted the problems in Canada were a good “wake-up call” as for much of the season their concerns had been focussed on the increased rivalry between their drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
After Rosberg increased his lead to 22 points after eventually finishing second on Sunday, and with the newly found concerns on reliability, some are questioning if the open battle Mercedes have allowed between its drivers this season will be continued.
Though Wolff said there was no link between the issues in Montreal and allowing Rosberg and Hamilton to race freely and flat-out, he did admit some reassessment maybe necessary.
“We will continue to let them compete and fight as long as it does not undermine Mercedes,” he told Spain’s AS newspaper
“We are a F1 team, not a team of two F1 drivers,” Wolff insisted. “We are all rowing in the same direction and share the same goal, which is simply to win the title.
“At the moment they continue to race freely, although the situation may change at any time. This is an ongoing, dynamic process,” he added.
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