Formula 1

F1 engine debate needs a dose of common sense

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Ever since Formula 1 embarked on a new era of propulsion at the start of 2014, the debate over engines has never really ended.

As most adjusted and came to enjoy the quieter more gutsy V6 rumble accompanied by the whistles of the turbo, it seemed that the decision, while initially controversial, had been the right one for the future of F1.

This is because the sport was making itself more relevant to the normal road-going car of today and even the future as the petrol/electric hybrid produced as much power as F1 cars of old while dramatically reducing fuel consumption.

Calls for change

Yet now, in what remains the very early days of V6 hybrid development, there are calls for the new engine formula to be scrapped and even a return to V10 power being suggested.

That came from F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone who remains unconvinced about F1's new direction and is equally concerned about the potential of Mercedes newly found dominance continuing for years to come.

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On Thursday Ecclestone will be part of a meeting of the sport's Strategy Group, a body consisting of himself, the FIA and six teams and the topic of engine rules in 2016 will likely be top of the agenda.

Mercedes look to compromise

While another ongoing debate, an unfreezing of engine development, continues with Ferrari, Renault and newcomers Honda keen to open up the regulations for 2015, the proposal was being blocked as it required unanimous support. This is because Mercedes stood their ground against such a move reportedly on cost grounds.

However, for such changes to be introduced from 2016 only a majority vote would be required and currently it seems Mercedes wouldn't be in a position to veto those alterations.

Therefore, with Ecclestone wanting a return to naturally aspirated engines and Red Bull boss Christian Horner suggesting a twin turbo V6 with a return to a standard KERS, the German carmaker is considering a compromise in an attempt to quell their rivals thirst for major change.

"Mercedes insiders have already indicated that they would supply their highly-complex and extremely successful hybrid system - without the basic V6 turbo - to the competition," reported Germany's Sport Bild.

"That way, the current regulations could be maintained without the opponents fearing years of Mercedes dominance."

A tough sell

The idea would be similar to how McLaren currently supply every team with the ECU (Electronic Control Unit) but for a team like Williams, who also have their own hybrid power company, suggesting a standard hybrid unit for all cars could be a difficult concept to sell.

Then there would also be convincing the other engine suppliers to run what would essentially be a Mercedes system on their own units, after all it is the hybrid aspect that attracted Honda back and is also seeing Audi reportedly exploring the possibility of entering F1.

All about the costs 

The major issue most have had with the new power units is cost, as the price of development spiralled, approaching a billion Euros totalling the three 2014 suppliers expenditure according to Horner, that cost came at the price of two teams as Caterham and Marussia were forced into administration.

It is the same cost reason why the Red Bull boss suggested simplifying the current engines by adding a second turbo and reducing the size of the ERS and Mercedes have blocked efforts to open up development.

However, what has to be considered is that as the development and production costs drop, so too will the price customer teams have to pay.

Tomorrow's world today

I also believe these engines are the best solution for the future, we are seeing supercar makers begin producing the most powerful cars they have ever made using similar technology and as the electric aspect to the power units gets cheaper then again the cost to those who want one will drop.

It is ground breaking technology and as harsh as it may sound I would sacrifice a few back of the grid teams to see these V6 hybrids succeed, the gap between Mercedes and the rest will surely close as each finds new areas of development to gain an advantage over the other, remember too the German carmaker spent much longer and more money on the development of its current power unit.

Hybrid power was essential

Formula 1 didn't make the change because it wanted to, it made the switch because it had to, staying with outdated V10's or even V8's would have eventually led to the death of the sport whereas now it has joined the lead in making transportation more efficient and more 'green'.

There is no need for the sport to go 100% electric even if it could because we have Formula E for that now, and while others point at the WEC and say it is there where the technology of tomorrow should be developed I disagree.

Formula 1 has been at the cutting edge of everything from safety to technology throughout its existence and what may seem expensive, complex and unnecessary now will become the everyday norm in 10 years time.

Personally I think the next great step for F1 should be hydrogen when those in the industry finally start putting the money and resources into what truly is the power source of the future, after all the only emission from cars then would be water!

Common sense must beat political games

There's a lot of infighting and bickering and attempts to gain the high ground on the topic as there is about anything in F1. And as most onlookers will say, if Ferrari or Renault were in Mercedes' position they would not likely be saying the things they are now.

Therefore while the cost issue is relevant and does need addressing all efforts must be made to try and make these V6 hybrid units viable for all whether it be through subsidies for individual team bills or covering certain costs for the suppliers because now F1 is in a good place technologically for the future and nothing should be done to jeopardise that.

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