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As Formula 1 switches to V6 turbo engines for 2014, Craig Pollock rejoins the sport as CEO of PURE. Basing themselves at the ex Toyota F1 facility in Cologne, the engine company is set to do battle with Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Renault. The Scot shares the latest, exclusively with GPUpdate.net.
How is the challenge progressing for Craig Pollock himself?
It’s a tough world, there’s no question about it. We’re a small company trying to compete with the big guys and we’re obviously having to do it in the most cost-effective way possible, which is highly important given what’s happening inside the sport today – everybody is complaining about the cost of the future engine supply.
What is PURE doing to ensure spending is as low as possible?
We have tried to do it in a logical way, which means that our overheads are a lot lower than the big guys. But the outcome has to be the same: we’ve got to make the engine as good as we can possibly make it.
What kinds of costs are facing the teams for 2014 engines?
At the moment, the major manufacturers are saying 20 million euros upwards (over £16m), which is extremely expensive. PURE will certainly be considerably lower than that because our overheads will be far lower than those of our competitors.
In January, PURE hoped to see its engine on a test bench by the end of June or beginning of July. Are you still on target for that?
No, we’re not. We had quite an advance but then an investor pulled out, which we had to replace and that held us back by probably four to six weeks. The case is that we should now be on the test bench by the beginning of September, or maybe the end of August. It is no big deal but obviously we would have liked to have that extra time, because the reason you use a test bench is to make sure that the engine is going to be reliable.
How have plans progressed for PURE’s European location?
We are currently finalising our move from Paris to Cologne. The test benches (formerly owned by Toyota F1) will be linked directly to our design administration and assembly areas. Everything there is just about ready to be up and running. That has cost us time as well, but we didn’t have any choice – we had to move out of our original base. We are still analysing the options to see what is going to be best for PURE long-term. Certainly, medium-term, we’re going to be in Cologne, but long-term depends on the package that is being offered by local and national governments.
There are all sorts of rumours hovering about engines right now...
Going into 2013 is going to be quite an interesting situation. I don’t know this for sure, it is absolute speculation, but it wouldn’t be unusual if Cosworth decided just to pull out at the end of 2012. That would mean that two of the teams (HRT and Marussia) would have to be supplied by either Renault, Mercedes or Ferrari.
Getting into 2014, the way it stands is that each one of the manufactures would still be able to supply three teams – their own team and two others. If PURE for some reason was to fail, the sport would have to allow the other manufacturers to supply more than three teams, but of course that is not part of the plan.
Are you keeping eagle eye tabs on the competition?
It is probably easier for us to keep tabs on our competition than it is for them, because very few people know exactly who we are and what we are doing. I have had meetings with manufacturers and I would definitely say that you will have Mercedes and Renault on the test bench with an engine within the next month. So they will be slightly in front of us in the timing.
Renault have been quoted as saying that they might want to supply up to six teams in 2014 – wouldn’t that grant them too much power inside F1?
I think there are a few ways of looking at it. Yes, it would give them too much power inside the sport and I’m sure that Mercedes and Ferrari wouldn’t be overly happy about that; plus it would give them more feedback to develop their engines, so that would be another advantage. On the other hand, I know Jean-François Caubet (Managing Director of Renault Sport F1) has said that but I don’t know if Renault really want to do that. If they are losing money over each one of their engines supplies, it could be problematic. As long as they are making money out of it, fantastic.
On the other hand, PURE is going to be there in 2014, offering engine supplies at lower rates. So why should the sport authorise six supply agreements to Renault? It’s a very dangerous situation for F1 if it happens. When you get a company like that, they could make a board decision from one minute to the next and say, ‘Right, that’s it, sorry guys – we’re out of F1’. All of sudden you would have a potential situation when Mercedes and Ferrari would have to supply the whole field. That is not positive.
Anything can still happen with Mercedes and Renault, but we’re not expecting Cosworth to be supplying the new engines from 2014…
Cosworth cannot be there in 2014. They just can’t make it in time now, no matter what anybody says – it’s an absolute impossibility.
When should we expect team-engine announcements for 2014?
I think it should be this year, roughly around September time. I think you will also find that the sport will not want teams building an interim car to put the 2014 engine in, in order to reduce costs. That would be fine for us. We are perfectly happy to work on a test bench and wait until 2014 before actually testing the PURE engine in a car.
There are still a few people believing that the V6 engines should be delayed beyond 2014. Why are they persisting?
Bernie (Ecclestone, CEO of the Formula One Group) has been scared from the very start that, because of the engine noise, it’s not going to be exciting and that the V8s are still good engines. There is no question about it: the V8 is a fantastic engine and they will be in cars for a long time. But the reality is that sport has to be responsible and we have got to look into sustainability in the future and clean, green engines. We have to have a green philosophy for F1 and we have to be responsible.
The sport has already accepted going from the idea of a four-cylinder powertrain to six-cylinder. Bernie wants to do an IPO and say that he has a sport which is stable and cannot change the rules from one moment to the next. We have done it once and it doesn’t make sense to do that again. It would not make sense. It makes this sport look ridiculous.
The sound of F1 is indeed an important issue. What should we expect in 2014?
If you listened to the powertrains of the Hybrid cars at Le Mans, I thought the sound was fantastic. They sounded like rocket ships. I think the Formula 1 engines are going to be even more spectacular. I think it will be a spectacular sound; it will be different, yes, but that’s life and life goes on. Life has to change and you have to progress. I agree with Bernie 100 percent that a race car has got to sound like a race car, but a race car of the future is not going to sound like the V8s of the past. Exactly how they’re going to sound, nobody’s knows today, but I personally and strongly believe that it will be totally different and it will be spectacular. They’ll sound like rocket ships.
Apart from the manufacturer teams of Ferrari and Mercedes, is every team still a potential option for PURE?
I think every team is an option apart from those two. Even Red Bull; I think, if they have anything with Renault at the moment, it will be a memorandum of understanding and Red Bull would be open if it made sense. You obviously have to look at the logic: they have won championships with Renault. They also have two main sponsors with Renault, which are Total and Infiniti. It is not absolutely impossible of coming in and making sure we’ve got a very good engine supply with funding that could be the same as Infiniti and Total, but it would be very difficult to repeat.
|1 Oct '12||Ecclestone: The new F1 engines sound terrible|
|27 Jul '12||PURE suspends engine building for 2014|
|21 Jun '12||Pollock: Six Renault teams dangerous for F1|
|21 Jun '12||Exclusive interview with PURE's Craig Pollock|
|19 Jun '12||‘New F1 engines will sound like rocket ships’|
|22 May||Latest F1 photos: Wednesday in Monaco|
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|22 May||Sutil: We need the final piece of the puzzle|
|22 May||Hamilton certain of progress with tyres|
|22 May||Photos: Charity football match in Monaco|
|7 Aug '12||Teams wary of spiralling engine costs|
|14 Jun '12||PURE still open to supplying three teams|
|31 Jan '12||McLaren hushed over engine future|
|20 Jan '12||Exclusive interview with PURE’s Craig Pollock|
|19 Jan '12||PURE considers Peugeot facility takeover|
|More Craig Pollock photos|