Plans to dramatically shake up the engine regulations appear to now be off the table, following a key meeting in Geneva on Monday.
F1’s engine manufacturers had been handed a January 15 deadline to address problems with the current ‘power unit’ rules, or risk Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt’s plans for a parallel formula being revived.
“I am optimistic,” said FIA president Todt days ago, “that common sense solutions will be found in the interests of everyone.”
F1 supremo Ecclestone, however, wanted not only costs to come down, but also power, noise and competition to dramatically increase.
Stakeholders like Red Bull, meanwhile, were keen for rule changes so that manufacturers like Mercedes and Ferrari are no longer able to block the ‘supply’ of engines to competitors who require customer units.
But Auto Bild Motorsport, a specialist German publication, reports that the engine rule changes proposed by the manufacturers in Geneva this week are essentially limited to the topic of reducing costs.
The report said not only Mercedes and Ferrari, but also Renault and Honda have voted unanimously to reduce the cost of customer engines to EUR 12 million per team.
This will reportedly be achieved by standardising certain parts.
The F1 Commission will move to ratify the proposal in Geneva on Tuesday, and Auto Bild claims that a majority vote is likely as Todt now backs the manufacturers.
It is a blow not only to Ecclestone but also Red Bull, who were pushing hard amid the prospect of an independent engine supplier entering F1 with different rules.
“We no longer expect a positive vote on that,” a Red Bull source is quoted as saying. “The only advantage is that new manufacturers can potentially now plan to build an engine for formula one.”
That is because the F1 Commission reportedly looks set to lock in F1’s hybrid engine era for a further four years, taking the regulations through to 2024, Auto Bild explained.
Not only that, even the sport’s earlier plans to dramatically alter the chassis rules now looks in doubt, with Williams’ Pat Symonds admitting he is pushing for the changes to be delayed until 2018.
So when asked about the prospect of a vastly different F1 in the future, Russian grand prix chief Igor Ermilin is not quite sure what will happen.
“It’s really hard to say,” he told the Izvestia news agency. “Some say the innovations will be radical while others think it will be insignificant.
“What is certain is that everyone will be trying to protect his own interests,” Ermilin added.