Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Formula One looks set to enter an era of standardised engines. The FIA is meeting with teams in Monte Carlo and is expected to approve the use by some teams of a standardised power unit provided by Cosworth, an automotive engineering company, from 2010 onwards. The move to a standard engine, which is common in lower tiers of open wheeled racing such as GP2, was pushed for by FIA President Max Mosley earlier this year as he aims to reduce team costs. This would not see the exclusion of manufacturer made engines, as at this time participation in the system would be voluntary and teams would be free to build licensed Cosworth engines or their own powerplants but on a performance par with the Cosworth unit. Mosley has stated that stabilising Formula One means that the FIA “…must stabilize the system with a base engine which anyone can have and which is inexpensive, as well as a standard gearbox” and has warned of future budget problems, saying that “Honda pulled out because of falling car sales and there is no guarantee that these falling sales, which affect all manufacturers, will not drop further”.
Ahead of the meeting of the FIA there have been rumours in the Italian press that Formula One team Renault had broken with the Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA), rumours which Renault has strongly denied. FOTA was established earlier this year by the teams to negotiate with the FIA over cost cutting measures and other changes, changes it hopes will stop the introduction of compulsory standardisation of engines and other parts on F1 cars. The FOTA’s position was hard hit last week by the announcement by Honda that they were leaving F1 due to the economic crisis, a move which has caused many teams to re-assert their commitment to a future in Formula One. David Richards, whose Prodrive entry to Formula One was called off last season due to costs, highlighted what he sees as the need for fundamental changes, saying that Honda’s exit was ‘a salutary lesson for the whole of F1 that things are going to have to change, and everything is going to have to come back a little bit if the whole sport is to prosper in the future’.
Five teams have reportedly expressed an interest in the Cosworth engines from the 2010 season, the five being all four independent teams (Williams, Force India, Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso) joined by manufacturer Renault. If only four teams sign up to the idea, the FIA has announced it will go ahead. Renault have been highly vocal in criticising the failure of the engine development freeze that has existed in Formula One and have, after a couple of seasons of struggling, been under pressure from their parent company to justify the continued expenditure in Formula One. Cosworth have previously been prolific engine suppliers in Formula One, their last stint was supplying engines to Williams in 2006.