Budget engine proposals 'bizarre', says Mercedes' Toto Wolff
Mercedes team boss perplexed by F1's "bizarre cycle" of introducing new rules as budget engine plans accelerate; Austrian says talk of engine equivalency "does my head in"
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 18/11/15 2:10pm
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has branded moves towards introducing a 'budget' engine to run alongside the current V6 hybrids "bizarre".
F1's off-track agenda is increasingly being dominated by engine politics in what is being viewed as a 'power game' involving the FIA, Bernie Ecclestone and the sport's four car manufacturers.
The FIA, with the backing of Formula One Management, is pushing ahead with plans to introduce an alternative 'cheap' engine into the sport from 2017 and last week began the process to find would-be independent suppliers of such a power plant.
The move has been made in the wake of the failure to agree on a cost cap for the existing power units to customers - a proposal Ferrari vetoed - and less than two years after the current engines were introduced in order to increase's the sport's road relevance.
Wolff, whose Mercedes outfit power more teams than any other, has expressed his frustration that the goalposts could be moved so quickly again.
"What's being transported by various people is maybe distorting what is really happening. Formula 1 was always the Drivers' Championship, which is probably the most important bit of it, but it was also the engineering championship and the pinnacle of technology," he told Sky Sports F1.
"That is what Formula 1 is also about.
"But on the other side it seems to be a bizarre cycle. You invent rules to attract manufacturers because that keeps the credibility of the championship up high and then once you've invented those rules, a couple of years later, you think they're just not good enough anymore and you invent another one.
"And this is just not how a large corporation works."
Ferrari defended their decision to invoke the team's right of veto on plans to cap the cost of customer engines at €12m on commercial grounds, considerations Mercedes have themselves echoed.
However, Wolff has insisted: "It's perfectly legitimate to bring the topic up of a discounted engine and a better supply price because we can't be considering this as our only platform. There are smaller teams which are struggling for income at the moment and we need to consider that and be opened minded.
"This is what we are trying to do."
Speaking at the Brazilian GP, the Mercedes motorsport director said "compromise is the right way to go" in order to find an acceptable solution to the cost of engines for smaller teams. The FIA could still row back on plans for a budget engine, thought to be a 2.2-litre V6 twin turbo, if manufacturers agree to reduce their fees.
Wolff has made clear his opposition to two types of engine in F1 - admitting talk of engine equivalence "does my head in".
"Personally, and I think many of us share the opinion, a balance of performance engine doesn't work in Formula 1. It doesn't even work in any other category," Wolff argued amid fears a two-tier formula would be created.
FIA begins engine 'battle'
F1's governing body calls for expressions of interest in supplying a 'budget' engine to F1
"We hear the aggravation in GT [racing] and it just does my head in hearing ideas. It's like we are completely stubborn and eyes closed about what happens in other series and the problems around that and someone pulls a rabbit out of his pocket and says 'why don't we do that?'"
The FIA has given independent suppliers until November 23 to register their interest in supplying an alternative engine on a three-year deal from 2017-19, although reserves the right to change the plans at any stage.
Hear more on the 'budget engine' debate and the power games currently being played out in F1 on Wednesday night's edition of Midweek Report. Natalie Pinkham is joined by journalists and broadcasters Will Buxton and Peter Windsor to look back at the Brazilian GP and analyse all the latest F1 news. Watch the show from 8.30pm on Sky Sports F1.