Aston Martin studying 2021 F1 engine programme
Aston Martin says that the company could be interested in supporting a future F1 engine programme, but only if the rules for 2021 and beyond are framed in a way that suits the sportscar manufacturer.
Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer , who attended a recent FIA engine meeting, says that the company could only justify an involvement if a lid was kept on costs.
Aston is currently a sponsor of Red Bull Racing, and is working with Adrian Newey on its Valkyrie road car project, which uses a Cosworth-developed engine.
"We sit on the periphery of F1, with the Valkyrie, and with Red Bull," Palmer told Motorsport.com.
"There's always that question, would you want to enter as a team? Our major competitor is Ferrari, so in that sense there's a rationale in being involved in some way.
"But for a company that's only just moved to making a profit we don't have the 350-400 million a year that you have to spend on F1.
"If – and it really is the big if – there is a cap put on the number of people or the amount of money that you can spend on developing a new engine, and it's at a reasonable level, we have a good reason to study it.
"At the moment there are lots of opinions, and it's still morphing into whatever the final idea will be."
Palmer says that the initial signs are promising, although there is no clear consensus among current and potential competitors.
"It's definitely going in the right way. Clearly everybody accepts that you need more theatre in F1, you need more noise, you don't want to restrict too much of the performance, but you have to bring the costs of entry down. I don't think there's anybody in the room that disagreed with that.
"But the debate is, 'How?' The FIA will say, 'Why don't you remove this?,' and half the crowd will say, 'No you can't do that.' So it's a long way from being a format that everybody will buy into.
"And I don't think it ever will be. I think eventually either the FIA or F1 have got to step up and say, 'This is what we've got to do.'
"The twin turbo against single turbo is not fixed yet. Yes it appears to be on the table, but it's not fixed yet."
All current and interested manufacturers have agreed to conduct research into possible engine formats.
"We've been asked to study what the impacts on cylinder pressures would be, what the impact on performance would be. Obviously it's in our case it's a hypothetical engine," Palmer added.
Although Aston has strong links with Cosworth through the Valkyrie project, Palmer has an open-mind about a possible future co-operation.
"There is no certainty. We obviously have a good relationship with Cosworth, and if you're trying to create a relationship which says 'Valkyrie, F1, by the way when you buy you're £150,000 Aston there's something in the bloodline,' then obviously it makes sense to try and bring it all together.
"That doesn't mean that we wouldn't consider for example Ricardo [suppliers of the Valkyrie gearbox], who were at the meeting, or Ilmor, who were at the meeting.
"We were all listening. We've talked about what might be with various parties, but we haven't decided. Hopefully it will be clearer in September, and that will allow us to make a proper decision."
Palmer hopes that Aston will provide technical support if an F1 project does progress, rather than simply badge someone else's engine.
"I've never been a fan of just simple sponsorship. I always try to get some degree of authenticity, and the more authenticity the better really.
"At the moment the authenticity comes through Valkyrie, and the fact that Adrian Newey is working with us.
"But if we can put it in the other direction, and we can find something where we can contribute technically, then I'm all in favour."
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