What comes after a ten year engine freeze?

Mercedes V8, 2006The FIA offered up another of its more unusual ideas for future engine rules a few weeks ago: banning engine development for ten years

I didn’t write much about it at the time because there was much more interesting stuff going on and Max Mosley has a habit of threatening daft ideas like this as a means of making people who don’t agree with him fall into line.

But suppose engine specifications actually were frozen for ten years. How would that work?

Many people reacted in horror to the idea – why should innovation be stifled in a sport that thrives on it?

What I don’t understand about it is, if engine development was frozen from 2009, what would happen in 2019? Would all the teams get to start using new engines?

If so, when will development on those engines start, and how much will that cost? Will teams just continue developing their engines throughout the suspension period anyway so as not to fall behind in 2019? If so, will this save any money at all?

The root cause of this is the FIA’s determination to introduce green technologies into Formula 1. I think that’s laudable (others do not) but as I’ve explained before what I don’t like is the way the FIA are shackling the teams to a single solution – Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems. By freezing development on engines, the FIA wants to channel teams into developing better energy recovery systems.

Why must the FIA be so prescriptive? The British Touring Car Championship recently announced how they intend to curb emissions in future, and the plan is a triumph of reductive thinking. They are simply going to limit the amount of CO2 each car can produce.

How each team is going to do that is up to them – whether it’s using an exotic new fuel, an energy recovery system, or something else.

So why can’t F1 have something similar? The white heat of technological progress in Formula 1 would surely conjure up all manner of solutions to the problem of restricted emissions.

Read more about green issues in Formula 1

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16 comments on What comes after a ten year engine freeze?

  1. Daniel PT said on 3rd December 2007, 9:31

    Actually, i believe Mosley hates F1. And F1 fiercest supporters, since he usually goes the otherway around of what they think. And in his brain, what is the best way to reduce costs? Make road cars give the technology to F1. Because that is what will happen in 2019 when road cars will have more efficient engines than a F1 does. So my proposal is: Why don’t we freeze Mosley presidency for 20 years? I believe it’s a great cost efficient rule!

  2. Eric M. said on 3rd December 2007, 9:31

    What I don’t really understand about this freeze is what happens if a team developes an engine that for whatever reason is significantly weaker than the frontrunners engines? I realize that teams will be allowed to make FIA approved changes after five years. But FIVE years? Waiting that long to improve a bad engine could kill any team on the grid! Good luck keeping your sponsors if your poor performance in 2008 is engine related. Why not let the lagging teams make necessary adjustments after the FIRST year of the freeze, and then carry on from there?

  3. Ogami said on 3rd December 2007, 10:20

    Details are not yet freezed about that.
    Today or tomorrow a WMSC meeting is held in which technical regulations for 2009 and so on will be adopted so more details will be aviable about the freeze.

    Actually even inside teams, the freeze has not been totally explained.

  4. engine freeze if it comes about could (pardon this) backfire on mad max as by not continually developing engines they may in 10yrs be like oldv8′s dinosaurs!! – we do need to try different types of engines – turbo diesels etc as they run in le mans series – said that before – other other ways and the f2 limit on co2 emmisions sounds sensible – so max will not go there – get rid of him please – we cant progress with a – fill that in any way you like folks!!

  5. Dan M said on 3rd December 2007, 15:06

    If they freeze the engines, be prepared for some awfully aerodynamically efficient designs (emphasis on awful). By 2019 they’re going to be driving upside down airplanes.

  6. Robert Mckay said on 3rd December 2007, 16:00

    What happens, say, should a new engine manufacturer wish to join 7 or 8 years down the line, having done the research of 8 years that the F1 teams would have done but didn’t?

  7. When the FIA puts a hold on the final outcome like CO2 emissions, for example, it would simply mean that the teams will spend horror amounts on developing the engine to make sure that while it (the engine) meets the emissions regs it continues to make the horse power ratings that it used to do with no regs on emissions in place. So, the FIA is more interested in regulating the WAY in which something is achieved rather than WHAT is achieved. This approach, according to the FIA, is the way for F1 to go (so that development costs are under control) and this approach, according to us, is exactly what F1 doesn’t need.

  8. I agree with Eric – what if the engine is so bad, and/or unreliable, does that mean the teams are going to have to make do with a rubbish 10 years as default?

    There is no way the engine manufacturers will stop development despite non-implementation, it won’t be a high priority any longer sure, but given a lot can change in 10 years, when the ban is lifted prematurely, you can bet most manufacturers will be up to speed with the newest development methods.

  9. SoLiD said on 3rd December 2007, 20:19

    10 years is long, and it will cut cost…as they can’t develop an engine for the periode after 2019, as they don’t know what engine they are allowed to race with.
    But they will just reshuffle the resources and we are back to off.

  10. Eric M. said on 3rd December 2007, 21:52

    “What happens, say, should a new engine manufacturer wish to join 7 or 8 years down the line, having done the research of 8 years that the F1 teams would have done but didn’t?”

    I was just about to put out the same question when I saw you already did. It would be quite an advantage, wouldn’t it? Maybe new teams will be forced to buy an engine from one of the other teams, as opposed to supplying their own.

    Conspiracy theory alert:

    I’m kinda thinking that Max has ulterior motives behind this latest scheme. I think when it becomes apparent just how unworkable and problematic this freeze is, Max will seize the opportunity to introduce what, in his eyes, is the next best thing; spec engines. For him, the advantages of doing this are obvious. How easy would it be to control costs if all teams used the same engine? How easy would it be for him to control all the other parameters that have been plaguing him over the years? Horsepower, traction control, emissions, excessive “noise levels”, etc. etc. all become very easy to police if the engines came from one supplier. We already know that Max likes the idea of spec components, chassis’ and what-not (he’s hinted very strongly at a spec chassis it in the past). Maybe I’m out to lunch here, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see Max do something like this.

  11. AmericanTifosi said on 3rd December 2007, 23:26

    After 10 years the fans will oust the FIA for the sake of the sport. Who’s with me?

  12. powerline2007 said on 4th December 2007, 4:54

    Max Mosley is getting too old for the job. Freezing engine developments for 10 years will not help him to catch up with engine manufacturers. Green engines will cost more & will not cut cost. Technically & intellectually, Max is bankrupt.

  13. verasaki said on 4th December 2007, 5:43

    There is something about this that is just bizarre. How can a 10 year freeze on developement of a C02 spewing, fuel inefficient factory actually promote green technology? Isn’t the whole environmental knife edge issue sort of dependent on a variety of innovative and experimental technology developements?

  14. Oh dear. The only thing I can think of that makes sense, engine-wise, is a total free market. Remember in 1994 when the top three engines in the constructor’s championship was Williams, Benetton and Ferrari- using a V8, V10 and V12 respectively? I say set a benchmark for efficiency or cleanliness and let the teams, unrestricted, develop the most effective solution. F1′s innovation has always, always, always driven road-car innovation; something we need more than ever now. Furthermore, it would prove the most intelligent engine supplier with such rules suddenly lifted. Anyone with me?

    Mad Max needs to be ousted in a bad way.

  15. AmericanTifosi, you got my vote, let’s petition the FIA to leave F1(Regs) the hell alone. All is well, with their intentions, but the sport after each change, come off worse/duller/boring. How many feel that F1 could use a little more speed, than the slowdown planned by FIA?

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