SHARE

I’m late to this story but I did read it yesterday and saw James Allen’s commentary with  Marussia team president Graeme Lowden this evening. What prompted the conversation, besides James being a very diligent bloke, is the comment the Hindustan Times ran quoting Bernie Ecclestone as saying:

“I listened to the noise of the engines in (Ferrari’s headquarters at) Maranello the other day, the new engine and the old engine, and even (Ferrari chairman) Luca di Montezemolo said it sounded terrible and didn’t like it,” says Ecclestone. He feels FIA president, Jean Todt, “will get rid of it. I think Luca is also saying we should suspend it for two or three years. I think it is sensible to get rid of it and stick with what we have got. It is much cheaper than the new one. It probably could be 30% of the price.”

One might think that this is odd as Ecclestone is the head of F1 and if he doesn’t want to engine, why have it? The fact is that the FIA are the regulatory body and they’ve made this mandate for V6 turbo engines and are looking at 2014 for deployment. The humorous comment from Ecclestone is directly pointed at former FIA president Max Mosley who concocted this new engine idea prior to leaving office when Jean Todt was elected as the new president.

“I blame the FIA for this stupid engine formula,” says Ecclestone. “It really wasn’t his (Todt’s) fault, (former FIA president Max) Mosley started the engine and then he got carried away… Todt really hasn’t interfered with us. He has been travelling the world and seeing all the different federations but he hasn’t bothered us.”

Now this is interesting from a couple points. First, he is clearly throwing Max to the wolves on this and taking the high road by suggesting Todt isn’t to blame. Let’s be honest, if Todt didn’t want the new engines format, he could have killed it last year or the year before. The other thing to consider is Ecclestone’s comment that Todt hasn’t bothered them. He’s been too busy hobnobbing.  Now that’s priceless Ecclestone! It’s a slight but also an implication to Todt to stay out of their way (at least that’s my opinion).

but what are the factors in a new engine format? We’ve argued for months that this is not the way to make Formula One less expensive. In fact, we’ve argued that it is quite the opposite. We feel that developing an all-new engine will be detrimental to small teams and very expensive for big teams.  James Allen seems to have uncovered that very notion in his interview with Lowden:

“Introducing any new step is good for a sport – you need to be innovative, you need to be relevant, that’s absolutely for sure. But it has to be done with sustainability at the heart of it.

“We’re all running businesses, we have responsibilities to our employees and there’s an awful lot of investment, time, effort and devotion that goes in from a lot of people. We owe it to those people to ensure that this sport is sustainable and has a long and bright future.”

What do you think? Should F1 can the new engine idea? Keep in mind that two years ago, the FIA (even Todt) was making sustainability their big mantra. In fact, road safety and mobility seemed almost an afterthought to the FIA in their press communication which boasted of new sustainable measures in F1 such as new engines and KERS. I’m not slating sustainability but the FIA clearly feel this new engine is better for F1’s eco-friendly image. Or is it something more?

We’ve also argued that the new engine format is really just bait for the hook when fishing for manufacturers to return to the sport. Mosely had all but urinated on them and BMW, Honda and Toyota left the sport leaving a huge festering wound. A V6 turbo may play more directly into the road car development and technology for car makers and this may lure them back…or so goes the argument.

If it threatens a teams survival, then I am not sure it’s the right way to go. If it threatens fan’s sonic sensibility and aural attachment to the sport, then I am not sure it’s a good idea. Would the current V8 lure car makers to the sport? Would a V6 turbo? Should F1 focus on cost-cutting and leave the sustainability to Formula E? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

 

SHARE
An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Rapierman

    The only point I could make is: Why are you so damned concerned with the engine sound? Is it really that critical to an engine’s performance? Whatever teams can afford the new engine, let them run it and see where it goes. If it ends up being too costly, then the teams should be able to figure that out on their own, shouldn’t they?

    • There is a big number of fans that are very adamant that the sound remains. Also, what about running V8’s with restrictors to set some parity between the two? Good idea? Bad idea?

      • F1 Kitteh

        But people complained when it went from turbos to V10 and from V10 to V8. So nothing new…

        • positiveCamper

          Personally, I prefer the sound of V12s…

      • Rapierman

        There’s an upside and a downside to restrictor plates. The upside is that the cars run closer together, making them more competitive. The downside is that the cars run closer together, making the massive-multicar-mishap more likely (referrred to in NASCAR as “The Big Wreck”).

    • RoDe

      Yeah I never really understood that either yes I understand the appeal of a certain engine sound. But than again should we go back than to the V12 which sounds awesome.
      I say let those V6 turbo’s come it good to shake things up.
      And the whole cost thing well, I personally believe that engine manufacturers benefit more from newer engine tech than more aero tech.
      If they (FIA) restrict the aero package a bit more, so they (teams) spend less hours in the wind tunnel perfecting a tiny wing that may or may not actually work in real life on the track I think some of the cost spend on the new engine will come back.

    • PM

      I’m not concerned with sound. Actually, I don’t like cars making all that noise. I use earplugs when I go seeing Formula 1. Everybody working in Formula 1 use earplugs too. A silent engine would be much better for everyone. I hope they’ll be able to run all the race on electric engines soon.

  • Mg5904

    Wait, wasn’t it reported a few months back that BE and LDM had heard the new engine and actually thought it sounded pretty good? What happened in the interim?

    • SteveH

      Bernie didn’t say he disliked the sound, he said Luca didn’t like it. Never believe Bernie; he’s a manipulator and it’s really time he retired. Also, is there some news from Bavaria in regards to the bribe Bernie paid in the CVC deal?

      • Mg5904

        While at the famous Italian team’s HQ, Ecclestone visited Ferrari’s engine department and heard a live V6 running on the dynomometer, Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport reports.

        “Even Bernie Ecclestone was pursuaded by the sound of the engine,” the report read. http://goo.gl/gjCVq.

        OK, dug up the story but it’s merely quoting a report from Auto Motor und Sport, so maybe not terribly compelling.

  • F1 Kitteh

    I think nothing Mr E says its as it seems. My guess is he’s actually throwing Luca and Todt under the bus even though he’s appearing to side with them. Why? Mosley couldn’t care less if the new formula happened or not. On the other hand if the new formula did not happen Luca (and Merc and Renault) wouldn’t be able to recover the $$$$ already spent on development, so he has to take the driver’s seat and make it happen (and charge as much $$$$ as possible). The teams would be ticked, less teams = bad for F1 and FIA who is looking for a cut of the revenues. Thus Mr E can stand by and watch while Luca and Todt dukes it out.

  • BuddyH

    If they want to be relevant, a turbo 4 cylinder would be better. I never heard one in person, but how did the 1000 hp 2 liter BMW’s sound? But there is no doubt that keeping what we got would save millions. Why not open the rules to allow a mix? Devise an equivalency formula of cylinders, boost, and RPM. Most would keep the current plant, but if a new manufacturer wanted to do a v6 or 4 turbo, they could.

  • BadCaptain

    This issue seems to highlight one of the biggest problems that plagues F1, indecisiveness. How about we save all the teams millions of dollars by not forcing them to develop technologies that will only be outlawed after they are researched and implemented . With all of the likely engine suppliers having running prototypes why is there any kind of talk of delaying or changing the rules now regardless of how they sound? How many millions would that waste? The best thing F1 can do to save all the teams big and small money would be to be decisive, chose the rules carefully and stick with them. I sometimes wonder how F1 keeps any manufactures or teams around with all of there indecisiveness and B.S.

  • Schmorbraten

    It would be unresponsible to ditch the new engines after a lot of investment put into them already. I still don’t worry about the sound because F1 already a had a turbo era and it was alright then. To me the engine question isn’t only about luring manufacturers back into F1, it’s also about reversing the trend of F1 becoming more and more remote from road car technology. And for me that’s the key to making F1 attractive again for a younger audience, because the world increasingly revolves around improving efficiency to make better use of the resources we’ve got, and that’s the main area where F1 can contribute something instead of just being a loud and wasteful spectacle. As for the price of the new engines … well tough luck. If Mclaren beat Caterham in 2014 because their engines squeeze more hp out of the prescribed fuel flow then that would still make more sense to me than having aero thingys being the performance differentiator. I’d therefore like to see a rule governing the maximum number of different body parts permitted per season. Three different front wings should be plenty – why allow top teams an advantage because they can afford to develop 10 or 20 iterations of front wing per season when HRT can only afford one? Why cry about the increased engine costs if teams are still permitted to dump lorryloads of money into developing the umpteenth exhaust channeling iteration? This aero stuff does nothing for the spectacle, nothing for road car development, and it’s a shame that that’s what will probably keep a team like Marussia at the back of the field for the foreseeable future.

    • Sidewayz

      LMFAO…

      “for me that’s the key to making F1 attractive again for a younger audience, because the world increasingly revolves around improving efficiency to make better use of the resources we’ve got, and that’s the main area where F1 can contribute something instead of just being a loud and wasteful spectacle.”

      Do you have testicles? Yes? No? Maybe you should take a mirror, go to the bathroom and check.

      F1 SHOULD BE ABOUT PUSHING THE ENVELOPE.

      Being ecconomical and efficient is CONSERVATIVE. It is by no means, an example of pushing the envelope. Someone overly conservative is a miser, and the only thing misers have to offer is misery. Same thing goes for a conservative sport.

      I say, let F1 be F1 – if you want a more efficient sport, start a spinoff. Hey, if everybody liked ‘ecconomy’ then the spinoff would be just as lucrative as F1, wouldn’t it? Yet, I look at Formula E and see a FAIL. As far as advancements go, nobody listens to the FIA anyway. Also, all the innovative tech that’s come from F1 has been developed outside the rules. There were no rules stipulating that F1 cars should / shouldn’t have ABS. Similarly, there were no rules about traction control (until it was banned) or SMG or carbon ceramic discs or… etc. The teams manufactured and implemented this tech on their own.

      I have yet to see an implementation of KERS, or pneumatic poppet valves, or 1 liter V20 engines that rev to one billion RPM in a roadcar. F1 does not translate to real world. Its a fantasy world which should be preserved. Drab sucks and we’re already surrounded by it. We need a little magic here and there.

  • positiveCamper

    V6 turbos: obviously a poison pill concocted by Mosley and his Nazi-outfitted tarts. He knew the end was near for him in F1 and this was his parting shot, conceived to bring chaos and dissension to an ungrateful circus.

  • mssmryzr

    There’s a plethora of great ideas here. Unfortunately, none will be heard by BE or LDM. Personally, I love the sound of an F1 V8. Face the facts boys, screamers are fun. That being said I’d love to see the V12 come back which brings me to my central point. The powers that be are trying to cut costs and to lure more manufacturers into the ranks. Different manufacturers have expertise in different types of motors and therefore have already done the development on that particular motor. The FIA already monitors engine mapping so what is the BFD to make adjustments for different types of motors. Everyone wants innovation which can relate to their road cars. Here’s the opportunity. Furthermore, it would be less expensive for a manufacturer to increase development on an engine with which they’re already familiar. It’s obvious from the comments above that some care about the sound and some could care less. For those who don’t care what a motor sounds like, the tone factor is a non-issue. For those of us that do care what they sound like, this would simply give us another reason to live. The only ones on which this would have an adverse impact is the FIA stewards and frankly I could give a rat’s hemorrhoid if they have to work harder. However, like Congress, they sure as hell aren’t going to make their own lives more difficult and approve or recommend this or a reasonable facsimile.

  • NeilM

    The best sounding engine I’ve ever heard in person was the late 60’s Matra V12 F1 with it’s high-mounted “Trumpets of God” exhaust. It was especially impressive at Monaco, where I was, because of sound reverberation off the buildings. You can listen to the Matra engine in a later sports prototype incarnation in the second half of this video: . It makes a terrific V12 howl with a metallic back note.

    There’s just something about the sound of 6-cylinders all in a row, doubled to a V12 or not. Watch and listen to Alain Castellana driving his Norma M20, powered by “half a V12,” a race prepared BMW S50B32 M3 engine: .

    But a V12 is bulky, heavy and complex. Ferrari had difficulty competing against a V8, even in the old 3 litre F1 formula. I wasn’t a big fan of capacity downsizing to the current 2.4 litre V8—but I think most of us have come to appreciate them. The cars are hardly slow and they still sound good, although I do wish they were allowed to use the 20,000 rpm and more that they’re capable of.

    So maybe the turbo V6 will end up sounding good too?

  • NeilM

    OK, my links got clipped, let’s try again:

    The best sounding engine I’ve ever heard in person was the late 60’s Matra V12 F1 with it’s high-mounted “Trumpets of God” exhaust. It was especially impressive at Monaco, where I was, because of sound reverberation off the buildings. You can listen to the Matra engine in a later sports prototype incarnation in the second half of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-q4fPOXXDHk. It makes a terrific V12 howl with a metallic back note.

    There’s just something about the sound of 6-cylinders all in a row, doubled to a V12 or not. Watch and listen to Alain Castellana driving his Norma M20, powered by “half a V12,” a race prepared BMW S50B32 M3 engine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzgvKBt9wkk.

    But a V12 is bulky, heavy and complex. Ferrari had difficulty competing against a V8, even in the old 3 litre F1 formula. I wasn’t a big fan of capacity downsizing to the current 2.4 litre V8—but I think most of us have come to appreciate them. The cars are hardly slow and they still sound good, although I do wish they were allowed to use the 20,000 rpm and more that they’re capable of.

    So maybe the turbo V6 will end up sounding good too?

  • Bruno

    Ask your mums if they would be happy to buy all the ingredients to bake a wedding cake. After they started baking and the cake is growing, you go and turn off the oven. WHAT A WASTE they would say.

    I think the same thing applies to the manufactures at this stage of the development. Their V6s are “growing in the oven”

  • The Daily Llama

    Been a huge USA fan of F1 for more than 45 years! Seen a lot come – and go. Including some fantastic drivers lost in the interests of something other than safety. Horribly saddened by that – forever.

    But I keep hearing the goofy FIA “preach to the choir” about how and why drastic cost-cutting is so important ……. yet, all their rules-makers keep doing are making *dramatic* changes that can’t do anything to really improve the quality of racing – I credit the newer, fantastic circuits and modernisation of the older venues with that – and these seemingly un-necessary changes SKYROCKET costs – for everyone, especially the engine suppliers – as F1 marches “back to the future” with yet another stab at a V-6 turbocharged motor.

    I’ll still watch it – on the TV and live in the USA & Canada – but cannot help but scratch my head in amazement that we’re returning BACK to the turbo era of the ’80’s – minus the exaggerated “ground effects” – but with the added KERS to get more power … that we alread had!!!

    Formula 1’s version of “the tail wagging the dog” …..

  • Sam

    Matter of fact is, at the end of the day; people don’t like change.
    The V6 Turbos from 1988 sounds perfectly fine to me. Sure it doesn’t scream as loud as the 18000rpm NA V8 or V10s, but the blow-off whoosh and the insane torque would sure make up for it.

    I’m ok with V6T, but make them sound like the 1988 engines please.

  • Deivid

    It’s not really the V6 that is killing the F1, it is all these restrictions.
    There is just insane amount of restrictions, requirements and regulations that has all but killed the F1 all ready. Certainly it has killed all the innovation from F1. It used to be who got the best driver to drive the best car, now it is about who changes tires quickest while navigating the rule jungle.
    Sure, regulations make safer sport, but the amount of artificial competition but in F1 is ridiculous.
    I would much prefer if the engine setup would be free, who knows, maybe there would even be one with a hybrid saving the world fast.
    However, the turbo V6 does sound better than V8, at least there will be something to develop in future cars.

  • carl

    go back to v12’s or 10’s

    v6 sounds like we are turning the sport into a shadow of its former self.