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. Wednesday 23 April 2014

  2. McLaren confident over victory chances 13:19

    McLaren confident over victory chances

    McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier is confident that McLaren will be able to win races this season. Although the team...

    F1
  3. Boullier: Magnussen on normal rookie path 12:36

    Boullier: Magnussen on normal rookie path

    Kevin Magnussen's challenging run of races since recording a podium finish on his Formula 1 debut is nothing for McLaren to...

    F1
  4. Castroneves placed on probation over tweet 10:37

    Castroneves placed on probation over tweet

    Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Hélio Castroneves has been placed on probation until the end of June, after a tweet...

    Indy
  5. Mark Sutton: Story behind the shot - China 08:59

    Mark Sutton: Story behind the shot - China

    Especially for lovers of motorsport photography, GPUpdate.net is this season running a feature series entitled Story behind...

    F1
  6. Ferrari will not give up, Fry insists 08:00

    Ferrari will not give up, Fry insists

    Ferrari engineering guru Pat Fry has said the Scuderia has no intention of giving up, although he concedes Mercedes does...

    F1
  7. Pedrosa: I've tried to do some homework 07:00

    Pedrosa: I've tried to do some homework

    Repsol Honda Team rider Dani Pedrosa has been doing his 'homework' ahead of the inaugural MotoGP event at Argentina's...

    MotoGP
  8. Hamilton not thinking about title 06:30

    Hamilton not thinking about title

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has insisted he is not 'wasting a thought on the championship' at the moment, even though his...

    F1
  9. Video of the Day: A to Z of F1 – Part 6 (V to Z) 05:00

    Video of the Day: A to Z of F1 – Part 6 (V to Z)

    Red Bull presents 'The A to Z of Formula 1' and in Part 6 - the final one - looks at V to Z.

    F1
  10. Tuesday 22 April 2014

  11. Alonso: No promises for Barcelona 17:55

    Alonso: No promises for Barcelona

    Ferrari's Fernando Alonso has said he 'cannot promise anything' for the Spanish Grand Prix next month. Alonso took his...

    F1
  12. Force India 'pretty satisfied' with Shanghai result 17:03

    Force India 'pretty satisfied' with Shanghai result

    Force India Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley has said he was 'pretty satisfied' after seeing Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio...

    F1
  13. Boullier: No reason for McLaren to panic 16:14

    Boullier: No reason for McLaren to panic

    McLaren Sporting Director Eric Boullier has said there is no reason for the team to go into 'panic mode' in the wake of...

    F1
  14. Times are tough, admits Kaltenborn 15:25

    Times are tough, admits Kaltenborn

    Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn has admitted the Swiss squad is going through a 'tough time', although she insists...

    F1
  15. Red Bull hits back at Mercedes over ban call 13:36

    Red Bull hits back at Mercedes over ban call

    Red Bull have hit back at Mercedes after calls from their rival that Daniel Ricciardo's exclusion from the Australian GP was...

    F1
  16. Zanardi denied points by clutch problems 12:43

    Zanardi denied points by clutch problems

    Alex Zanardi was philosophical after clutch problems cost him points during the opening round of the 2014 Blancpain Sprint...

    Misc
  17. Márquez going for hat-trick in Argentina 11:41

    Márquez going for hat-trick in Argentina

    Reigning World Champion Marc Márquez will be out to make it a hat-trick of victories this weekend when he tackles the...

    MotoGP
  18. Anything still possible, says Vettel 11:17

    Anything still possible, says Vettel

    Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel has not given up on taking his fifth Formula 1 Drivers' title this season, despite the...

    F1
  19. 'Lewis was a man on his own planet' - Wolff 10:36

    'Lewis was a man on his own planet' - Wolff

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has paid homage to Lewis Hamilton following the Briton's dominant victory in China last...

    F1
  20. Video: Rosberg reflects on China 10:19

    Video: Rosberg reflects on China

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg looks back on the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix and recalls the incident with Williams rival Valtteri...

    F1
  21. Webber begins WEC career with podium 10:09

    Webber begins WEC career with podium

    Former F1 winner Mark Webber 'dodged a few bullets' and took a podium on his debut with Porsche in the 2014 FIA World...

    F1
  22. Rosberg: Mercedes out to make biggest step in Spain 09:39

    Rosberg: Mercedes out to make biggest step in Spain

    Nico Rosberg has said Mercedes will be pushing to extend its advantage when the European season commences next month with...

    F1
  23. Video of the Day: Vettel – Are you kidding? 05:00

    Video of the Day: Vettel – Are you kidding?

    Relive Sebastian Vettel's "Are you kidding?" radio message after being passed by Kamui Kobayashi during the Chinese Grand...

    F1
  24. Monday 21 April 2014

  25. Injured Crutchlow to miss Argentina round 20:39

    Injured Crutchlow to miss Argentina round

    British rider Cal Crutchlow will miss this weekend's MotoGP round in Argentina due to a fractured finger. The Ducati...

    MotoGP
  26. Cautious Renault pleased with progress in China 17:00

    Cautious Renault pleased with progress in China

    Renault's head of track operations Rémi Taffin says that the French engine supplier still has progress to make but is...

    F1
  27. Kobayashi disappointed pass on Bianchi did not count 15:30

    Kobayashi disappointed pass on Bianchi did not count

    Kamui Kobayashi says it is unfortunate that Caterham missed out on beating Marussia at the Chinese Grand Prix through no...

    F1
  28. Horner defends Vettel after terse radio message 14:00

    Horner defends Vettel after terse radio message

    Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has defended the actions of World Champion Sebastian Vettel during the Chinese...

    F1
  29. Unhappy Dennis urges Red Bull talks over Fallows 11:00

    Unhappy Dennis urges Red Bull talks over Fallows

    McLaren boss Ron Dennis says he hopes his team's dispute with Red Bull over the services of aerodynamicist Dan Fallows can...

    F1
  30. Angry Räikkönen hits out at motivation questions 09:00

    Angry Räikkönen hits out at motivation questions

    An angry Kimi Räikkönen hit out at questions over his motivation after he finished in eighth place during Sunday's Chinese G...

    F1
  31. Winners and Losers at the Chinese Grand Prix 07:00

    Winners and Losers at the Chinese Grand Prix

    The Chinese Grand Prix was another race controlled by Mercedes's Lewis Hamilton, the Briton taking maximum points ahead of...

    F1
  32. Video of the Day: Mercedes celebrates 1-2 05:00

    Video of the Day: Mercedes celebrates 1-2

    Mercedes chiefs celebrate their third 1-2 finish of the 2014 season at the Chinese Grand Prix.

    F1
  33. 03:00

    Championship standings after China

    F1
  34. Sunday 20 April 2014

  35. Hülkenberg hails 'very positive' team result 12:19

    Hülkenberg hails 'very positive' team result

    Nico Hülkenberg described as "very positive" Force India's double points finish in the Chinese Grand Prix, its third of the...

    F1
  36. Ricciardo: I really want that podium! 12:04

    Ricciardo: I really want that podium!

    Daniel Ricciardo joked that he 'really wants' to finish on the podium after second successive fourth place at the Chinese...

    F1
  37. 12:00

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday at Shanghai

    F1
  38. Third successive retirement for Sutil 11:57

    Third successive retirement for Sutil

    Adrian Sutil and Sauber's difficult start to 2014 continued as the German driver was unable to finish in China following an...

    F1
  39. Massa left frustrated by pit stop problem 11:50

    Massa left frustrated by pit stop problem

    Felipe Massa's chance of a good result at the Chinese Grand Prix disappeared after a calamatous pit stop dropped him down...

    F1
  40. Button says McLaren 'not good enough' 11:32

    Button says McLaren 'not good enough'

    Jenson Button has admitted that his McLaren team's performance level is simply "not good enough" after a lacklustre Chinese...

    F1
  41. Gearbox problem prevents first Lotus points 11:27

    Gearbox problem prevents first Lotus points

    Romain Grosjean was left frustrated after a gearbox problem with his Lotus E22 forced him into retirement at the Chinese...

    F1
  42. Kvyat 'very happy' with third points finish 11:16

    Kvyat 'very happy' with third points finish

    Daniil Kvyat was understandably elated after picking up his third points finish from four races during Sunday's Chinese...

    F1
  43. Video: Vettel's "tough luck" radio message 11:08

    Video: Vettel's "tough luck" radio message

    Sebastian Vettel was asked to let Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo through during Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix. When he...

    F1
  44. Shanghai result modified after flag error 10:58

    Shanghai result modified after flag error

    The Chinese Grand Prix has been cut short by two laps after the chequered flag was waved at Lewis Hamilton earlier than...

    F1