Some very interesting commentary from Red Bull’s team boss, Christian Horner, in an article over at Sky Sports F1. The future of Formula 1 may depend on the direction they take in coming months regarding the new engine format and all the details that come with it.
As you know, the new regulation set is slated for a 2020 start date and this means that the new owners, led by veteran Ross Brawn from a technical standpoint, will need to think very hard about what they want the future of F1 to look like.
Will the series continue down the path of hybrid or electric engines? With Mercedes and Porsche both joining Formula E, is that a good thing or bad thing for their long-term commitment to F1 in the case of Mercedes or interest in even joining F1 in the case of Porsche/VW? Does F1 have to have an electric or hybrid component to keep manufacturers interested or would they be fine moving toward normally aspirated engines with KERS?
Lots of question but Horner feels that F1 needs to do it right or face a 10-year slide.
“I really hope that for Formula 1’s sake there is a strong decision made that isn’t a compromise. The problem with a compromise is that it doesn’t suit anybody,” said Horner.
“We have seen all these manufacturers now signing up to Formula E – that is where the technology belongs and where the electric cars belong. Formula 1 is really at a crossroads because the power unit that is picked for 2021 onwards is probably going to have between an eight and 10-year life.
“What are people going to be driving on the roads in 2030? Will they be autonomous? Will they be electric? If you listen to our Government, they’re saying they certainly will be [electric].
“So Formula 1 is at a crossroads where it has to decide what its future is. Is it outright racing? Is it combustion engines? Is it man and machine wanting to know who the best driver, with the technology perhaps playing a slightly lesser role?
“I certainly hope the regulations that are brought in post-2020 bring those aspects to the forefront and that it is about the driver. Yes, the team should absolutely make the difference, but it shouldn’t be a power unit-dominated formula, which is pretty much what we have today.”
It’s a tough decision for sure and while Horner believes that getting back to basics should be the goal, it would be easy to understand his desire for a traditional, more affordable engine as his team doesn’t manufacture their own. Having readily available and competitive power supplies would make Red Bull’s superior chassis development a strong combination…again.
One might suggest that Williams, Force India, Sauber and Haas might also be interested in this approach as well as McLaren. On the other hand, Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari and Honda all have investment and appetites for hybrid development. What do you do?
“I sense that the model for Chase [Carey] and the Liberty guys is all about putting on a great show, great events, producing great content, which means wheel-to-wheel racing, making the drivers the stars and getting their characters across, and using all the media platforms to do that,” added Horner. “And that sort of goes against the grain of a highly technically-advanced formula.
“Now, I guess, that is conflict that Ross [Brawn] is charged with. He’s poacher turned gamekeeper and he’s going to have to look at some of the fundamentals and it’s a matter of having the courage to make the big decisions.”
If I had to guess, I would predict a dual-turbo 6-cylinderg engine with KERS but no MGU-H. It’s still a hybrid but without the waste/heat element. This is what sniffles the sound of the engines (along with the turbo) and perhaps they could not only get the sound of an F1 car back but also include KERS which is still road relevant and relatively mature as an engineering element on F1 cars. What is your guess?
Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1