Ecclestone proposes engine change


Published: Wednesday 17th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone will make a further attempt to cut the sport’s extravagant costs on Thursday.

Ahead of a meeting of the Strategy Group that comprises the ‘big five’ – Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams, plus the sixth-placed team from the recent championship in Force India – Ecclestone is to propose another engine change.

There is no doubt considerable blame for the financial crisis that engulfed the sport at the end of the season was laid at the door of the introduction of the new 1.6-litre V6 turbo-charged power units that replaced the old 2.4-litre V8s.

The three power unit manufacturers in Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault spent multi millions of pounds in development, and in a bid to recoup some of their costs have naturally charged their customers accordingly.

It meant from an annual outlay of around £5million for the V8s, teams were suddenly asked to find around £15-20million, ultimately forcing Marussia out of business and Caterham into administration.

As for Force India, Lotus and Sauber, the trio suggested a far more equitable distribution of the sport’s 900million US dollars (£575million) revenue to ease their financial concerns, but that ultimately cut little ice with Ecclestone despite numerous talks.

Now Ecclestone is to head into the Strategy Group meeting proposing a potential return to the V8s, or even V10s.

“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 One? 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.”

Suggested to Ecclestone Mercedes would quit F1 if the sport reverted back to a V8 or V10, he 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.”

As to a timescale, Ecclestone is proposing its introduction in 2016, adding: “These are my ideas.

“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.”

Published: Wednesday 17th December 2014 by The News Editor

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