F1 warned against "dumbing down" engines

Force India's COO Otmar Szafnauer has questioned the push by the FIA and Liberty for F1 engine standardisation in 2021 by warning that the sport should not down "dumb down" the power unit.

F1 warned against "dumbing down" engines
Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
Otmar Szafnauer, Force India Formula One Team Chief Operating Officer and Chase Carey, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman of the Formula One Group
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, passes Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
Otmar Szafnauer, Sahara Force India Formula One Team Chief Operating Officer and Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull Motorsport Consultant
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF70H, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13, Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32, the rest of the field at the start
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H leads at the start of the race

The proposed rules package is aimed at bringing power units closer together by introducing standard parts and other restrictions on development.

However, Szafnauer believes that manufacturers should still be able to seek a competitive advantage by building a better engine.

"We've got to make sure that the formula has different aspects of performance," he said.

"What we can't do is dumb down the powertrain to a point where they're all the same, or marginally the same. Why remove the powertrain challenge from F1? I don't get it.

"We can spend 100 million on a driver for three years or 99 or whatever the figure is. Why would we spend 100 million on a driver? The only reason is because you get an advantage.  So it's a drivers' formula.

"And why would you spend tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, on an aero programme? Because you gain an advantage.

"So why dumb down the engine? It should also be an engine formula. It should be driver, it should be aero, and it should be engine.

"The team with the best overall package wins. If you remove the engine as a differentiator, the other two just become more valuable, and I think that's wrong. We're F1."

Szafnauer believes that there is still room for debate on the 2021 rules in the coming months.

"It's not a fait accompli. It was just the first discussion and presentation. I think we're going to get further input.

"I think there's still a whole year before we have to finalise the engine regs, so let's get everybody's input, and see where it comes out."

He also pointed out that the recent discussions did not cover the potential costs of power units in 2021 to customer teams like Force India.

"I don't know what the price is. That's the biggest thing we want, a lower price, and we don't know what that is. That's the most important thing to us."

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