Teams wary of spiralling engine costs
7 August 2012 – In 2014, Formula 1 will switch from its current 2.4-litre V8 engine format to brand-new, 1.6-litre V6 turbos. Although this will mark a new era for the sport, which is keen to maintain its image as a technological world leader, a possible shortage in engine companies is leading to fears of massive costs for teams.
As GPUpdate.net learned last year, Cosworth has not started to develop a V6 turbo and could end its current F1 development programme by as soon as the end of this season. This leaves Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Renault as engine manufacturers as well as newcomers PURE, but the latter has recently hit financial trouble due to the loss of a key investor.
“It’s obvious that we would want to keep our current supplier because we share a long history together,” Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber CEO who is poised to become Team Principal in 2014, told Germany’s Motorsport-Total. “Things are still very much open, though, because they themselves are, like us, not yet completely sure about all conditions.”
PURE CEO Craig Pollock has already explained to GPUpdate.net that his company would be willing to supply three teams in its first season. At the same time, it is believed Mercedes prefers to manufacture powerplants only for its works squad because of the high costs; this would mean McLaren would have to pay full price for customer units and would more than likely bring a change in engine supply for the Woking team.
Should PURE be unable to recover economically for 2014, a fierce situation is likely to develop as Renault has already expressed its intentions to work with as many as six teams if F1 governing body the FIA agrees. This has not been well received by Ferrari and Mercedes, who believe the French company would gain too much influence in the sport as well as more data by which to develop their products.
“There isn’t much more to say about it, there are lots of rumours,” Kaltenborn continues. “We are not involved in further talks at the moment, but we have always made it clear that the financial side of things is very important to us; we don’t want to get back to the days when you had to pay huge amounts of money for your engines.”
Sauber – as a fully independent F1 outfit - has been supplied with engines by Ferrari since 1997. This excludes the period of 2006 to 2009, when the Hinwil team was under the ownership of BMW and therefore ran with its own power.