F1 could use Aston Martin against Ferrari quit threat
Aston Martin believes Formula 1 can use its intention to become an engine supplier in 2021 as a bargaining chip against Ferrari's threats to quit the championship.
F1's owners revealed their blueprint for the future of grand prix racing at the Bahrain Grand Prix, including plans for simpler, cheaper, louder and more powerful engines than the current V6 hybrid turbos.
The FIA expects to finalise F1's 2021 engine regulations "by the end of May" having recently confirmed intentions to retain 1.6-litre V6 turbo hybrids without the MGU-H element of the energy recovery systems.
Aston Martin has said it would consider building an engine to the new rules should the technology be simplified and costs reduced sufficiently, while Ferrari has threatened to quit F1 should this simplification process go too far.
In an interview with F1 Racing, Aston Martin president and CEO Andy Palmer also suggested Aston's status as a competitor to Ferrari in the supercar automotive market could strengthen F1's hand in negotiations with the famous Italian marque and mitigate the damage should Ferrari walk away.
"Liberty obviously want a new engine [for 2021]. They want to move the sport on," Palmer said.
"The incumbent teams don't want to change the engine very much.
"In the old world, they would have won, wouldn't they? Red Bull at one moment were left out in the open.
"But now they've got someone sitting behind them saying, 'If you write the rules like this, we might be interested in providing an engine'. Now there's an alternative.
"Now, when Ferrari threaten to leave the sport, Liberty can go, 'well, Aston and Ferrari, same kind of space, same kind of customer type, maybe it's not such a bad thing if you want to leave'."
Palmer hopes Aston can help shape F1's future in a positive way, even if it ultimately proves unable to enter as an engine supplier.
"Right now, what does F1 need? F1 needs a good kick up the arse and to remember what it's there for," Palmer added.
"It's not about an ever-greater arms race. At its heart, it's about entertaining, appealing to petrolheads and about pushing technology.
"The way that we're acting and behaving right now, we're upsetting the establishment. We've got people talking. And even if at the end we're not there, maybe we helped in the process of improving the sport."
Palmer also reiterated Aston's need for help and collaboration if it is to build a competitive engine to the new rules.
"I'm not under any illusions about how difficult doing an F1 engine would be - I'm a powertrain engineer originally," Palmer said.
"If we're really going to simplify, and cap development costs, there's a possibility we could be involved.
"But if I were to get involved, I'd do it with partners. If we can, we will, but we are not going to provide an engine to Red Bull that's going to sit at the back of the grid."
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