Bernie Ecclestone will again propose F1 returns to normally aspirated engines
F1 boss to pitch engine switch at Thursday’s Strategy Group meeting
By William Esler
Last Updated: 22/12/14 9:47am
Bernie Ecclestone will once again propose that F1 returns to normally aspirated engines at Thursday’s Strategy Group meeting.
The F1 boss has been a vocal critic of the new regulations introduced in 2014 and will pitch the changes as a method of cost-cutting to the group which is comprised of Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, Williams and new addition Force India, after they finished sixth in the Constructors’ Championship.
The change from 2.4-litre V8 engines to 1.6-litre turbo-charged V6 hybrid units has seen costs rise from a reported £5m to £15-20m for customer teams.
With both Caterham and Marussia slipping into administration during the 2014 campaign and the futures of Force India, Sauber and Lotus all the subject of doubt, Ecclestone thinks an engine change would help them remain on the grid.
"We recognise the biggest problem these teams have is the amount they have to spend on the power unit," said Ecclestone.
"I believe if you got everybody in the room, secret ballot, there would only be one company interested in retaining this engine, and that is Mercedes. You can't blame them because they have done a super job, and the others haven't, so they've a big advantage.
"Is that good for Formula 1? I think not, because we can all put our money together and have a wager they will win the championship next year, and probably the year after, which is not really the sort of thing we are looking for.
"I have been proposing, and am going to propose, at the next meeting we go back to a normally-aspirated engine with some hybrid bits built into it.
"The teams, manufacturers will have to call it a 'McLaren hybrid', 'Ferrari hybrid' or a 'Williams hybrid'. It's so we get across the message they are hybrids, but nobody tells anybody.
"It's the best-kept secret actually as to what this engine is for, why it was designed and what have we achieved with it because it is a fantastic bit of engineering, it really is."
Having invested heavily in the new regulations to secure the performance advantage Ecclestone alludes to, Mercedes could perhaps be forgiven for not wanting to see that money go waste. The German outfit will supply engines to Williams, Force India and Lotus in 2015 as well as fielding their own team.
When it was suggested to Ecclestone that Mercedes would quit F1 if the sport reverted back to a V8 or V10, the F1 supremo replied: "I think they'll do it when it suits them anyway.
"We've noticed in the past manufacturers have done that, but I would be surprised if they did."
The 84-year-old would look to introduce the changes for 2016, but added that the proposals could go away if the engine suppliers agree to reduce costs.
"These are my ideas,” he said. "Nobody can do anything with the engine we currently have, apart from spend a lot of money.
"I have spoken to one of the engine people and they thought the type of engine we are talking about, the development costs would be really small.
"I have always thought, though, it would be an uphill struggle to get Mercedes to ditch what they have built, and honestly we shouldn't ask them. It would need to be them volunteering.
"But what are they going to say? Them saying 'The other people are useless, we are great, so we're happy to help' is not going to happen is it?
"But if they're prepared to reduce the cost of the engine then the problem disappears, then there's no need for a new engine. We keep what we have."
Just three engine manufacturers were represented on the 2014 grid - Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari – and that will become four in 2015 when Honda return to F1 with McLaren.