Formula 1 can deliver engines to excite fans in the future without turning back the clock to reintroduce V8s, claim leading figures heavily involved in future rule discussions.
While F1’s chiefs continue talks about new power unit regulations from 2021, which will likely be for a twin-turbo V6 hybrid without an MGU-H, there remain many fans who would like the sport to go more extreme and bring back V8s or V10s.
But Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff and F1 motorsport managing director Ross Brawn are adamant that improvements to the current engines can please both manufacturers and fans in delivering excitement – and especially noise – again.
Wolff said: “I strongly believe that F1 stands for high technology and innovation, performance. If you try to crawl back in time to the famous 80’s and 90’s, just because you liked it so much, it is the wrong strategy.
“The discussions we are having are really good in so far as we see what we want to keep from the current regulations.
"There has been scope for various pillars that the new engine needs to have: cost of development needs to be under control, it needs to be high-tech, it needs to be hybrid, power-to-weight ratio needs to be better than it is now, and now we need to look at the quality of sound.
“We are looking at the variables of how we can achieve that, and in so far as everybody has been pretty much on the same path, I believe by the end of the year we can come to a close and say this is what we want to do in 2021.”
Brawn, who is working hard on framing a vision for F1’s future that makes it more attractive for fans, believes that calls for a return to V8s need to be put into context.
“We have a lot of fans who say 'we want to go back to normally-aspirated engines', but then you have to ask the next question: why is that?” said Brawn.
“It’s because it creates more emotion with the noise and the revs.
"So can we create a hybrid engine that has that noise, has the revs and has that appeal? I think the manufacturers involved in F1 know that that is a key element.
“They need to have a successful F1. There is no point having an engineering exercise that demonstrates your technology if nobody is watching it.
“The manufacturers know there has to be a balance of relevance, but still be able to engage the passion of the fans."