Exclusive interview with PURE's Craig Pollock

Exclusive interview with PURE's Craig Pollock

20 January 2012 – In 2014, Formula 1 will move into an innovative new era for engines. The current V8 will be scrapped. A new turbocharged, 1.6-litre V6 will replace it. And joining the current suppliers will be PURE, headed up by former BAR Team Principal and Jacques Villeneuve manager Craig Pollock. As the new epoch edges ever closer, the company CEO shares the latest with GPUpdate.net.

How are things progressing at PURE?

It’s very, very interesting now because, when you are designing and building an engine for Formula 1, you’ve got various different phases you have to go through. The first two phases are the basic design and then you’ve got the very detailed design. Once you get to Stage 3 you’ve gone from detailed design to passing your orders to suppliers and you’re basically into the fabrication of the parts. Now we are into that phase and we have already confirmed that we will be on the test bench by the end of June, beginning of July which is very early, which is good.

The engine itself looks very exciting; obviously it is very innovative but it has to be and I am sure that our competitors will also try to be as innovative as they possibly can. They are obviously not going to tell us what they are doing, unfortunately! We are very, very aware that our competition is very strong with Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes and we know exactly what we are up against, but we push the limits with the engine design.

How well do you think your rivals are getting on?
You can never know exactly until you are out on the track. We have a fair idea that Mercedes are already on the bench – we don’t know whether that is with a full engine, like us, but we expect it is with a single cylinder engine and not an actual race engine. We are pretty sure that Renault is not going to be on any test bench until round about September, towards the end of this year.

Obviously we have got very good information on Ferrari through Gilles Simon’s contacts. We still feel that they are procrastinating in which direction they need to go; so they are definitely not into detailed design yet so they are as late, if not later, than Renault. That is the information we have. Everybody uses very similar suppliers for certain parts of the engine, so when certain parts have not been ordered by a certain date you know how far behind people are!

How much of a difference does it make to test an engine in an actual car?

The best type of testing you can ever have it when the engine is actually in a car. Nobody’s going to have that really until 2013, but to me that is not a problem. If we already have four or five months of bench testing from July 2012, that is hugely significant. We have now decided that we will be basing part of our team out of Toyota in Cologne and using the Toyota Formula 1 test benches because they are the best in the world, there’s just no question about it. By the time we have our own test benches up and running it’s going to take, realistically, one and a half to two years to do it properly – and we can’t take that risk.

Where will PURE’s own test bench be located?
What has happened is that we are growing out of the facilities that we are in at the moment, close to Paris. We have been anywhere between 22 to 50 design engineers. Now what we’re actually doing is looking for our own design and development offices and the big decision actually goes about a fiscal need and which particular government or canton is going to support us the best going forward. We are looking at three areas at the moment. In all honesty we are looking at France, preferably round about the Paris area but also the south of France is very attractive. There is also Switzerland; I have very good connections in the area where I live and they are extremely supportive for this type of project, because it’s very high technology and they will support – in an extraordinary way – tax-wise and also financially. The third one is a possibility of basing ourselves out of German, purely because the facilities are there and are available.

On the other hand, there has been the news of Peugeot pulling out (of endurance racing) – and we were fairly inside that this might happen. They are around the Paris area with facilities, offices and test benches; not of the quality necessary for a Formula 1 engine, but it wouldn’t take too much to convert it into a Formula 1 test bench. It would potentially be the cheapest way going forward. With the Toyota test bench in Cologne the contracts are all done, so that is where we are heading at the moment, but we have to seriously study the Peugeot situation because they are already based out of the Paris area; if we think that is the right way to go we will contact them, but there has been no contact with them as yet.

How much contact have you had with the F1 teams in recent weeks?

Things are keeping up and I think people are now taking the situation little bit more seriously than they were taking it before. I don’t think the Peugeot pull-out is going to help, either, because it will make them realise that, with these very large companies, a board decision or a directors’ meeting can create a negative decision on future supply – and it can happen from one second to the next…just before the season, mid-season or at the end of the season. So nobody knows who is going to be there in the future, apart from Ferrari who I believe are always in for the long haul, but with the other players nobody can guarantee it.

Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault have all been making F1 engines for a considerable amount of time. However, everybody starts from zero with their 2014 V6 projects…
I would certainly say we are ahead of where we thought we were going to be – that is already hugely positive. We don’t have to work on the V8 for two years, so our people are only working on the 2014 project and for us that’s quite exciting. I would imagine Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes have got the best people working on the development of the V8 to try to go out and win the 2012 and 2013 championships. Our best people are all working on the new project, so I think that potentially gives us…I would not say an advantage, but keeps us focussed. We only have one focus.

In the past few years – even with the V10 to V8 transition – teams have tended to stick with the same engine suppliers. Will we see a huge reshuffle ahead of the new V6 turbo era?
I think you are going to see a very big reshuffle because, no matter what happens, it still costs engine companies money to supply all of these teams. I know that with Mercedes, even back in Barcelona of 2011, Norbert Haug in an engine supply meeting with the FIA said that, ‘If we have to we will supply one more team, but that team is going to have to pay full price.’ So the message was very clear that McLaren were going to have to pay full whack for their engine supply. In 2012 they’ve got a free engine supply and in 2013 they will be supplied by Mercedes, because basically they have to. But in 2014 it’s going to be a tough one.

Indeed, many are already expecting McLaren to change engine provider for 2014…
Yes (a positive yes).

So is there an opening for PURE with McLaren?
Yes. There is not one team at the moment – other than Mercedes and Ferrari – that is not a possibility for PURE. Even though Renault has so-called ‘signed up’ teams such as Red Bull, I still think everything is wide open.

Will there be a minimum or maximum number of teams working with PURE?

The minimum is two, there’s no question about it. A minimum of two teams and two good teams, if possible. And the maximum number…if we have to supply a lot more teams then we will gear up to do it; it is not exactly our immediate wish because I think you also have to be very realistic about it and know that we are a new company. The people working in the company are not new, they are veterans in the field of Formula 1 engine supply, but to supply another team would just require more organisation. But as long as we know early enough, we will be happy.

We haven’t mentioned Cosworth – is the new era out of the question for them?
It would be very, very, very difficult for them to be up and running in time, going through all of the various stages they have to go through to get the engines on a test bench and be acceptable to the Formula 1 teams. Even with what they have today, they are in a situation where they have got to start from scratch. They are a year behind. We started this at the beginning of last year. So they would be a year behind and not on the test bench probably until the end of next year, so they would have to go straight from the test bench into the cars.

Originally, the FIA planned a straight-four (four cylinder engine) for 2013 but that changed to a V6 for 2014. Some claimed it was because Audi had wanted to enter with a straight four but then decided against it. What was your version of events?
I have claimed since the onset of the rule changes that our PURE engine could be in a Formula 1 car by 2013. It was basically the main manufacturers, more Ferrari and Mercedes, who said they wanted 2014 instead of 2013 to give them more time.

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Saturday 5 September 2015

  2. Hamilton completes practice clean sweep 11:05

    Hamilton completes practice clean sweep

    Lewis Hamilton completed an Italian Grand Prix practice clean sweep by topping Saturday morning's damp/dry session at Monza…

    F1
  3. 09:47

    Follow final practice for the Italian GP!

    F1
  4. Verstappen also penalised for engine change 09:38

    Verstappen also penalised for engine change

    Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen has joined the sizeable list of drivers to be hit with grid penalties for engine changes at the…

    F1
  5. Ghiotto flies to dominant pole in wet 09:24

    Ghiotto flies to dominant pole in wet

    Championship leader Luca Ghiotto claimed a dominant pole position for his and Trident's home race after topping a wet GP3 Series…

    GP3
  6. Video of the Day: Sauber's 'Ask the Driver' 05:16

    Video of the Day: Sauber's 'Ask the Driver'

    Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr answer questions from fans at the Italian Grand Prix.

    F1
  7. Friday 4 September 2015

  8. Evans excluded from GP2 qualifying 21:00

    Evans excluded from GP2 qualifying

    Mitch Evans has been stripped of his front row slot for the GP2 Feature Race at Monza after it was discovered that the tyre…

    GP2
  9. 17:22

    Latest Formula 1 photos: Friday at Monza

    F1
  10. Vettel: Ferrari 'quite far away' from Mercedes 17:05

    Vettel: Ferrari 'quite far away' from Mercedes

    Sebastian Vettel has conceded that Ferrari is "quite far away" from Mercedes at the Italian Grand Prix after the opening pair of…

    F1
  11. Force India duo expect rival improvements 16:48

    Force India duo expect rival improvements

    Force India drivers Sergio Pérez and Nico Hülkenberg are wary of rival improvements after displaying impressive pace during…

    F1
  12. Boullier: McLaren 'intends' to keep Button 16:19

    Boullier: McLaren 'intends' to keep Button

    Eric Boullier says that McLaren "intends" to retain Jenson Button alongside Fernando Alonso next season, but also place Stoffel…

    F1
  13. Hamilton backs 'more sensible' tyre guidelines 15:47

    Hamilton backs 'more sensible' tyre guidelines

    Lewis Hamilton believes that Pirelli's altered tyre guidelines for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix are "much more sensible…

    F1
  14. 15:34

    Latest GP2 photos: Friday at Monza

    GP2
  15. Gasly sweeps to maiden GP2 pole position 15:31

    Gasly sweeps to maiden GP2 pole position

    Red Bull protégé Pierre Gasly claimed his maiden GP2 pole position for this weekend's round of the championship at…

    GP2
  16. Red Bull engine penalties reach 40 places 15:06

    Red Bull engine penalties reach 40 places

    Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat are facing significant grid penalties at the Italian Grand Prix after taking…

    F1
  17. 14:36

    Italian Grand Prix: Full Practice 2 results

    F1
  18. Hamilton remains on top in second practice 14:33

    Hamilton remains on top in second practice

    Lewis Hamilton edged out team-mate Nico Rosberg as Mercedes remained comfortably fastest during second practice for the Italian…

    F1
  19. 12:51

    Follow second practice for the Italian GP!

    F1
  20. Hamilton wary of Red Bull/Mercedes tie-up 12:32

    Hamilton wary of Red Bull/Mercedes tie-up

    Lewis Hamilton has warned Mercedes against supplying Red Bull with power units, should the latter end its long-standing…

    F1
  21. 10:42

    Italian Grand Prix: Full Practice 1 results

    F1
  22. Hamilton, Mercedes dominate first practice 10:33

    Hamilton, Mercedes dominate first practice

    Lewis Hamilton led team-mate Nico Rosberg as Mercedes dominated first practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, while…

    F1
  23. 08:48

    Follow first practice for the Italian GP!

    F1
  24. Ecclestone backs Pirelli over tyres 08:44

    Ecclestone backs Pirelli over tyres

    Bernie Ecclestone and Formula One Management have expressed support to Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli in the wake of the…

    F1
  25. Video of the Day: Vettel visits Brembo HQ 05:22

    Video of the Day: Vettel visits Brembo HQ

    Sebastian Vettel visited Brembo's Italian headquarters to celebrate the brand's 40th year in Formula 1.

    F1
  26. Thursday 3 September 2015

  27. GP3 Series unveils new-for-2016 car 17:46

    GP3 Series unveils new-for-2016 car

    GP3 has unveiled its third generation car which will be introduced at the start of the 2016 season. The championship has used…

    GP3
  28. 17:03

    Latest F1 photos: Preparations at Monza

    F1
  29. Vettel still wants answers from Pirelli 16:38

    Vettel still wants answers from Pirelli

    Sebastian Vettel has praised Pirelli for its "professional" response to the tyre failures suffered at the Belgian Grand Prix…

    F1
  30. Van Buuren and Binder join MP Motorsport 14:24

    Van Buuren and Binder join MP Motorsport

    Meindert van Buuren and René Binder will comprise the driver line-up for MP Motorsport at this weekend's round of the GP2…

    GP2
  31. Pirelli presents Belgian GP conclusions 13:54

    Pirelli presents Belgian GP conclusions

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has presented its conclusions following a detailed investigation into the two separate tyre…

    F1
  32. Further engine penalties for McLaren pair 13:29

    Further engine penalties for McLaren pair

    McLaren-Honda drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button are set endure further grid penalties at the Italian Grand Prix, after…

    F1
  33. Pérez expects new Force India deal 'soon' 12:03

    Pérez expects new Force India deal 'soon'

    Sergio Pérez says it is his intention to remain as a Force India driver next season, and expects a fresh deal to be announced…

    F1
  34. Cecotto Jr. makes Trident GP2 return 11:02

    Cecotto Jr. makes Trident GP2 return

    Johnny Cecotto Jr. will make a return to the GP2 Series this weekend alongside Ferrari youngster Raffaele Marciello at…

    GP2
  35. 10:42

    Formula 1 2016: Driver line-ups so far

    F1
  36. Williams boosted by line-up stability 10:38

    Williams boosted by line-up stability

    Sir Frank Williams says his eponymous team is in a "fantastic position" ahead of the 2016 season, thanks to the stability of…

    F1
  37. Williams keeps Massa, Bottas for 2016 10:01

    Williams keeps Massa, Bottas for 2016

    Williams will continue with an unchanged driver line-up of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas for the 2016 season, the pair…

    F1
  38. Trummer re-joins Hilmer for Monza 09:06

    Trummer re-joins Hilmer for Monza

    Simon Trummer will make a return to the GP2 Series with Hilmer Motorsport for this weekend's round at Monza. Trummer, who…

    GP2
  39. Video of the Day: Hamilton's Monza preview 05:26

    Video of the Day: Hamilton's Monza preview

    Mercedes driver and championship leader Lewis Hamilton looks ahead to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

    F1
  40. Wednesday 2 September 2015

  41. Video: Toro Rosso duo play word tennis 14:35

    Video: Toro Rosso duo play word tennis

    Toro Rosso youngsters Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen play word tennis ahead of the Italian GP.

    F1
  42. Renault confident over power unit performance 13:40

    Renault confident over power unit performance

    Renault Director of Operations Rémi Taffin says that the power unit supplier can head into this weekend's Italian Grand Prix…

    F1
  43. Williams targets Monza podium repeat 12:24

    Williams targets Monza podium repeat

    Williams Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley believes that there is no reason why the squad cannot target a repeat of its…

    F1
  44. Honda braced for 'big challenge' at Monza 10:32

    Honda braced for 'big challenge' at Monza

    McLaren's engine supplier Honda says it is braced for a "big challenge" at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, due to the…

    F1
more news