Bernie Ecclestone turns up the heat on F1 engine manufacturers
Bernie Ecclestone has given an interview in Die Welt newspaper in Germany making some tough comments about the negative impact of Mercedes' dominat...
Bernie Ecclestone has given an interview in Die Welt newspaper in Germany making some tough comments about the negative impact of Mercedes' domination and suggesting that he and FIA president Jean Todt will use their new mandate from the World Motor Sport Council to compel the manufacturers to comply with their wishes.
The mandate, announced last week, gives the pair the power "to make recommendations and decisions regarding a number of pressing issues in Formula 1 such as governance, power units and cost reduction."
This has been questioned by many F1 insiders in the last few days, with commercial contracts in place as well as Ferrari's notorious veto right still on the table. It's hard to see how they could force through changes without it ending up in arbitration or the law courts.
Todt and Ecclestone, so often in dispute in the recent past, have a common cause against the manufacturers. However, the two men likely have slightly different endgames in mind, with Ecclestone determined to rid F1 of the hybrid turbo engines which he considers too complex, too costly and too quiet for the health of F1. He also wants to reduce the manufacturers' power ahead of the 2020 Concorde Agreement negotiations.
Todt has always championed the new hybrid technology, with the message of fuel efficiency it sends out. He told the FT last month, "We are very pleased with the 1.6 litre hybrid turbo power unit. There have been some challenges - mostly to do with the cost of the engines and the competitiveness of some manufacturers to date. However these engines are incredible."
Although Todt has been pushing for the new low cost independent engine, together with Ecclestone, he is using it more as a bargaining chip and wants the outcome to be lower cost hybrid turbo engines, not the abandonment of these engines.
Ecclestone voiced a different view: "There will be certainly a different engine in the future, or a set of regulations for a new engine, which will have more horsepower and be much cheaper. That is clear to me," he told Die Welt.
"We need this new engine, with more horsepower than the current unit and also cheaper. I call that an efficient Formula 1 engine. An independent engine builder can make this, not just the long-established manufacturers. There are plenty of examples from the past of Formula 1. Basically, the discussion about a new engine from 2018 still on the table; it is in full swing."
The F1 Commission rejected this independent engine concept, preferring to specify a cheaper, simplified and noisier version of the curet hybrid turbos. In mandating Todt and Ecclestone, the WMSC asked them to "establish conclusions on these matters by 31 January, 2016."
The next six weeks will be feisty. Ecclestone ramped up the rhetoric on this by saying that the manufacturers have had a chance to bring down costs but failed so it's time to impose some changes on them,
"There were plenty of opportunities in the past to support these plans. They just don't want to - they must therefore be compelled. We must all do our jobs properly to continue to keep the formula alive.
"The teams, manufacturers and we now have to find a reasonable, common solution. If this is not reached, the FIA will install clear guidelines for a new engine. Should the teams and manufacturers not like the regulations, they also have the right to respond. Either they cease to race in Formula 1 or protest to the FIA - or whatever.
"We can not allow Formula to be 1 destroyed."
One final curiosity; asked whether the 2016 German Grand Prix will go ahead he replied, "I do not know."
The power units are one of the topics discussed in the JA on F1 Season Review published 10th December at £5-99. The 52 page Souvenir Collectible features JA's Top 5 drivers of the year, analysis of Ferrari's revival and comparison of Lewis Hamilton's stats with the other three time world champions.
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