How will the FIA make each F1 teams’ engine performance equal in 2009?

Will all F1 teams have to use the same engines?

Will all F1 teams have to use the same engines?

The FIA World Motor Sports Council confirmed yesterday it will take steps to ensure all engines used in F1 have equal power outputs in 2009. Rumours about this have been buzzing around since June.

This brief statement marks an utterly radical change for Formula 1 and a major step away from being a series where car builders compete to create the fastest machine, and towards becoming something closer to a ??spec series?, where all the cars are identical.

What are the implications of this change ?ǣ and how will the FIA ensure all power units used in F1 give the same power?

F1 engine specifications were ??frozen? in 2007 in an effort to curb the amount being spent on engine development. However some manufacturers have improved the performance of their engines in other ways.

That led Renault?s Flavio Briatore to complain his team had been disadvantaged by obeying the ??spirit? of the rules and not chasing further performance from their V8.

The FIA?s decision to force all engines to have equal power outputs is an attempt to resolve this and allow teams to make further cost savings, as president Max Mosley explained:

The engine and gearbox together for an independent team is upwards of ??30m a year. That could be done for probably 5% of that cost without the person in the grandstand noticing any difference at all. Even those big spenders, if they are given the opportunity to save ??100-200m a year will do so.

But it raises some difficult questions:

How will equal engine power be achieved?

It seems to me there are two ways the F1 might achieve this:
1. Set maximum outputs for power and torque.
2. Have each F1 team use the same engine.

More technically-minded people might be able to give more insight into how these could work in the comments.

Option two would obviously be much more radical and I wonder if this is what the FIA already has in mind in terms of ‘future cost cutting measures’. Their reasoning being, if all engines are to have the same power output and power delivery, then what’s the point in having different designs at all?

How will equal engine power be enforced?

Presumably the FIA intends to monitor engine output using the standard ECU.

But having ‘identical’ engines can bring its own problems. In other series where participants have to use the same specification of engines it is not common for wealthier teams to acquire batches of engines and compare each one to find the most favourable unit – even if the differences are tiny.

What will the teams have to say about it?

Max Mosley originally tried to press the teams into agreeing to new regulations on engines at Monaco, during the height of the scandal over his involvement in sadomasochistic sex orgies. The teams asked for that meeting to be deferred, and subsequently set up their own body, FOTA, to respond to a request made by Mosley during the British Grand Prix to propose new engine rules.

We have not yet heard what FOTA wishes to propose. Last month I wrote, “the idea that six car manufacturers are all going to be happy to use the same engine just doesn?t seem realistic to me” and I still hold that thought.

Will FOTA fall in line with Mosley’s thinking? Or is he trying to pre-empt them to force them to agree to his own solution?

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50 comments on How will the FIA make each F1 teams’ engine performance equal in 2009?

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  1. What a complete and utter waste of time. I really don’t understand why they bother with this.

    Just like the UK government who want to pretend they aren’t banning smoking while taking more and more measures to put people off.

    Why doesn’t Mosely just cap the budget and let them do whatever they want within that instead of messing about with minor measures?

  2. Patrick said on 8th October 2008, 7:40

    What a complete joke. Let’s save 400 million of Toyota’s 401 million budget and just all use the GP2 cars and engines. No one will notice.

    F1 is quickly becoming the antithesis of all that was once great about the sport.

    Very sad.

  3. Mick said on 8th October 2008, 7:45

    I hate this idea, but if I fantasize about a season where Vettel, Lewis, Alonso and Raikkonen have similar equipment in the teams/environments of their choice, I can only hope for great races.

    But just to make it clear, I think the idea stinks. The teams spend millions on research every year, and these technology advances in engines, etc are what sets them apart from other motorsport series. It’s not just driver vs driver, it’s team vs team – and that’s the way I like it.

  4. Mark said on 8th October 2008, 7:54

    I agree with Andrew, if the only reason for this insane idea is to cut costs then a budget cap would work much better!

  5. Cameron aka. SkinBintin said on 8th October 2008, 8:16

    Wow! What a terrible idea! If Formula 1 ever became a spec series with all teams using identical chassis and engine packages then I probably wouldn’t watch it. Instead, I’d just follow A1GP and the New Zealand team that participates in that championship.

    F1 is the pinacle of motorsport, and it really needs to stay that way. Yes, the teams do spend a fortune, but for the manufacturers, a lot of the technology eventually finds it’s way into road cars. Which is what I always thought was part of the point of Formula 1.

    Ahh well. I guess all I can do is look forward to the day when Bernie and Max finally move on.

  6. Yet another reason why the FIA has lost the plot. I don’t need all the teams to be the same; I’d rather see one team invent something fantastic and pull away into the distance than to see a parade of 20 cars unable to overtake each other because they are equal. Teams spending lots of money for no noticeable gains– that’s just because there’s no innovation allowed and everyone’s already forced to build similar engines anyway.

  7. Chalky said on 8th October 2008, 9:10

    I don’t want to see a spec series or an engine freeze. If we let these teams find their own way, maybe one day I’ll be driving a super efficient road car with an engine the size of a matchbox. Yes, an extreme view, but this is the pinnacle of engine development.

    Man didn’t start racing motorcars to save money. He raced them to prove they were reliable and quick. Now we need roads into efficient \ reliable \ powerful engines. F1 needs to lead the way in this and they need to compete for the best engine.

    Imagine where all our road cars would be now, if F1 had banned engine development in 1965 (pre 3.0l engine change rule).

  8. Adrian said on 8th October 2008, 9:10

    When will Max learn?

    The big teams will still spend as much as they can even if everything else is equal. What would be to stop the Mclaren’s and Ferrari’s spending bucket loads of money to make sure that their air filters were better or their paint was smoother than the next teams – extreme examples I know but the point is – if the want to cut costs, cap budgets. No other method will work.

    If you limit the areas in which the teams can find performance gains, then all the bigger teams will do is spend ridiculous amounts of money on the tinyest details just to gain hundredths of a second over their competitors.

    As far as I can see, the best way to cut costs and improve racing would be to free up the regs to what they were years ago and impose budget caps on the teams…

  9. Adrian said on 8th October 2008, 9:15

    Chalky’s comments got me thinking:

    How would people feel if the FiA did impose a standard engine (and let’s be fair this does happen between car manufacturers at the moment – a MINI Cooper S has the same engine as a 207GTi…) then I would want to see the regs freed up so that the teams could inovate in other ways – let them use hybrid technologies if they want.

    Oh, and I would add that in the above situation I would see the engine being provided by someone independent of the F1 Teams and Manufacturers…someone like, oh I don’t know….Cosworth!!

  10. If either happens the car manifacturers will have very little motivation to be in F1 at all.
    If the Merc engine is not dominating the BMW, why should Merc bother producing one at all? And be in F1 at all?

    This is all silly!
    As Andrew said in #1 – if you want to cut the budget – cut the budget, not the reasons to spend it! People with money will always find what to spend them for.

  11. M Smith said on 8th October 2008, 9:25

    I don’t see why this needs to be done. I don’t see why we even needed the engine freeze, because Cosworth proved that a powerful and useable engine could be produced with a fraction of the bigger teams budgets.

    With more restrictive aero rules coming in next year (which I’m in favor of) engine performance will separate the cars performance, like in China ’06 where Honda’s chassis was performing fantastic, but the engine was underpowered so the team suffered until Brazil when the new spec came.

    That’s what I want, not even more restrictive regs were they might as well have the same engine. Bring on those new tiny turbo engines, so it can become a competition again!

  12. ceedas said on 8th October 2008, 9:43

    It sounds rather like Max is going to push for the single standard engine, which obviously none of the manufacturer teams will accept.

    It also looks like standard gearboxes could be on the cards, as a less contentious area for standardisation. The problem is that after the introduction of a standard ECU, supported by ‘the fans’, the FIA will pursue standard parts as a means to reduce cost and keep the ‘racing’ close.

    For what it’s worth, I think budget caps are totally unworkable, and couldn’t be policed.

  13. Adrian said on 8th October 2008, 9:52

    I just read a piece over on another F1 site quoting Mario Thiesen as saying that he sees the future of the F1 powertrain as being very different with small capacity internal combustion engines, mixed with hybrid technologies and a very different type of transmission. Technologies that would then find their way into road cars.

    What Mad Max risks doing if he forces through standard parts is to limit the amount of F1 tech that can be used on road cars, and in the process limiting the level to which F1 can be considered “worthwhile” in a business sense…

    I suspect though that he is suggesting these draconian ideas in order to prompt the teams to come up with their own, more realistic, plans.

  14. In my honest and rather extreeme opinion, F1 should:

    have a reasonably competitive budget cap (say 200 Mil)

    give manufactureres Zero Regulations in term of power and torque.

    keep competitive and increase overtaking chances (aero limitation+slicks)

    F1 should also look at it’s past and learn from there,

    re-intorduce the 1 hour 12 laps qualification session, i love this idea, the current knockout system is rubbish in my opinion.

    and please stop penalising people the minute they touch, this is racing people, when the moment is charged with a nano second decision, s… happens, just like life, so deal with it. don’t punish those who attempt to overtake and then commit an error.

    yeah one more thing, the points system should be reviewed, and i think the old 10-6 system was better, and encourages people to race not just drive.

    and as for the engine limitation way, i say to mosley, go get your self a spec series and leave F1 to those who know what it’s all about. No limits racing

  15. Where to start still trying to recover from Max’s interview on bbc last night bleating about his privacy – saya he hasnt changed his habits either?? – with a huge model ferrari prominently in the background – mans a first class loony who says he is retiring next year – hope its sooner

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