Bernie Ecclestone hints he could fund development of new F1 engine
F1 boss would then sell customer supplies at £7m a year
By William Esler
Last Updated: 15/03/16 11:06am
An alternative F1 engine could still be on the cards after Bernie Ecclestone suggested he would pay for its development.
Late in 2015 the FIA called for an expression of interest in providing F1 with a budget engine from 2017 onwards after Ferrari vetoed proposals to impose a cost cap on customer supplies of the current V6 hybrid unit.
Those proposals appeared to have been shelved after the manufacturers agreed in January to reduce the price they sell their engines for and guarantee all teams a supply to avoid a repeat of the Red Bull saga of 2015.
FIA confirm qualy format
The FIA have confirmed the new knockout format of qualifying will be used this season
However, the subject looks set to return after Ecclestone hinted he would be willing to pick up the development tab for a new engine to ensure a closer and more competitive F1 grid.
"I've proposed that we would engage with a manufacturer to make a power unit that would develop the same kind of power as the current power units are developing," he told Sky Sports News HQ.
"We will contract for whatever it costs and we will supply it to the teams for £7m rather than the £26m or £28m that they pay now.
"So that hopefully will be a big help and it will certainly stop them having an inferior engine. So I hope that happens."
Force India's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer is all for reducing costs, but isn't sure that a new engine is the route to take.
"He hasn't discussed it with me specifically, but obviously I heard about it last year," Szafnauer told Sky Sports when asked about Ecclestone's comments.
"I have reservations as to what that is going to do to the sport. We can't have a two tier power train, although we are all for lower cost engines. In the days of the V8 we had engines at €8m and now they are twice that.
"We should look at ways of reducing the cost of the power train which will help everybody in F1 from a financial stand point. But I think that could be achieved without having to introduce two separate regulations."
The first race of the 2016 F1 season, the Australian GP, is exclusively live on Sky Sports F1. The race in Melbourne starts at 5am on Sunday March 20.
Every race live in 2016
Sky Sports F1 brings you every race live in 2016. Fast and easy online upgrade - click here.