F1 should start putting its mind to the future of the engine regulations, according to two of the sport’s leading technical officials.
Mercedes has dominated the first three seasons of the controversial ‘power unit era’, but the basic 1.6 litre V6 formula is set in stone until the end of 2020.
Some believe F1 took a sharp wrong turn with the state-of-the-art, quieter and highly expensive technology, with even Mercedes’ Paddy Lowe agreeing that F1 has a “big question” to ask itself regarding the future.
“It does raise some very big considerations,” he said. “How do we define an engine or power unit that is correct for the sport but also relevant to the kind of power units that we will see in the future in road cars?
“Do we make remain in some way related attached to that technology which is increasingly electrical or do we go our own way? So there are some very, very important questions there,” added Lowe.
Engine noise has been a big topic since 2014, even though the volume has steadily increased since then to the point that trackside spectators are once again having to use earplugs.
Lowe said: “It doesn’t match the sound of the old V8s or the V10s but it still raises an interesting debate. I think road cars in the future will at some point be completely silent if they are all electrical so will we (F1) want noise? Will we associate noise with performance or not?
“There are some very interesting debates there and I think we need to start that process,” he added.
Senior Ferrari engineer Jock Clear agrees that F1 collectively “underestimated” the challenge when the current turbo V6 power unit era was devised, disappointing the public and creating big performance gaps in the field.
“As such, the sooner we start, the sooner we’ll be aware and the sooner we can come to a solution that will be the best for the sport,” he said.
“We need to think about it in the context of what the sport needs, what the public wants, what looks sexy. But fundamentally, it’s still a technological challenge and we need to get the technology right,” Clear added.