The cost-cutting plans: engines

F1 engines will be limited to 18,000 rpm and will have to last three races in 2009

F1 engines will be limited to 18,000 rpm and will have to last three races in 2009

Among the proposals agreed by the FIA and the Formula One Teams? Association to cut costs are a range of money-saving measures targeted at the engines.

The changes include an extension in engine life and severe restrictions in development. Will they achieve the goal of cutting costs while keeping F1 at the technological forefront?

Longer life, fewer races

With just over 100 days until the start of the 2009 season the teams? options for making immediate cost savings on engines were limited.

The first steps will be to increase the life of an engine from two races to three. This will be accompanied by an overall limit on the total number of engines a team may use in a season: eight per car in the races, and four per team outside of races, for a total of 20 per team

To allow the teams to achieve this 50% increase in engine life, the maximum rev limit will be lowered from 19,000 to 18,000rpm.

This should reduce the number of engines that have to be built and purchased. The manufacturers have agreed to reduce the cost of a year?s engine supply to half its 2008 level next year, with a targeted cost of ??5m by 2010.

Development restrictions and future specifications

Internal tuning is to be banned and the same specification of engines will be kept until at least the end of 2012. Renault, who had fallen behind on engine development, has been allowed to make certain alterations to its engine in order to help it achieve parity with the rival manufacturers. The possibility remains for a new engine to be introduced in 2013.

As well as cutting costs, this will further reduce the scope for performance gains to be found through mechanical changes. Inevitably bright F1 minds will find some workarounds to tease more power from the 2.4-litre V8s. But those gains may be limited to areas such as lubricants, where the potential improvements are far smaller.

In some ways it is disappointing to think that the exciting days of dramatic engine improvements from race to race are behind us. It will rob F1 of some of its unpredictability. But that may be the price we have to accept for a Formula 1 that is financially viable.

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18 comments on The cost-cutting plans: engines

  1. On the one hand we once had Cosworth DFVs in almost every car and it’s regarded as golden-era stuff.

    On the other, I never thought I’d see the day when one team is now allowed to make “certain alterations” to allow it to catch up. So, there’s a financial crisis. But that’s not F1, sorry. It just isn’t. I thought this was a competition. I long ago stopped pointing out to Nascar fans that there was something wrong with tweaking aero rules on a team-by-team basis to keep the major teams level with each other, or throwing out flags if someone got too far ahead. But I don’t see how this is any different from that, or weight penalties or whatever (I no longer criticize Nascar, needless to say).

    Do you remember arcade video games where, if you got too far ahead of the field, your car would just go slower and slower until they blew by you (then it was your turn get the good car)? It seems to me that the same mentality has silently crept into F1 and everyone is fine with it, because there’s a financial crisis.

    But… Would it be too crass to point out that the balance of power between teams has been rigged for a long time anyway? Perhaps, but it’s the elephant in the room here and I feel it has to be said regardless.

  2. ScuderiaToroFerrari4Eva said on 12th December 2008, 21:09

    good post keith i agree with you especially when you pointed out the unpredictability of 1 race weekend to another 1 team would take huge leaps one weekend whilst others fall behind and vice versa the next race weekend to me thats what f1 is about teams finding gains and challenging not having frozen engines which are limited i know that with all these rules they want to make it less financially sapping and more marketable but i will always miss when f1 had the v10′s v12′s and turbo cars oh yeah and keith have you got the slightest clue how much hp those 1.8litre proposed turbo’s would produce im kinda curious :D

  3. Alastair said on 12th December 2008, 21:37

    Surely an engine that needs to last three races has to be extensively tested and costs way more to manufacture than an engine that gets rebuilt every race?

  4. The boost or whatever you call it on those engines would be heavily restricted otherwise we’d be back to 1500 hp f1 cars. Difference this time is it would be for the race not just for quali.

    edit: Referring to the 1.8 turbos.

  5. Alastair – Current engines already have to last for two races and the reduction in the rev limit will also extend their useable life considerably. It’s not exactly an about turn in terms of development.

  6. Kubica said on 13th December 2008, 0:11

    I’m very suspicious of Renault. During the final 4 races of the season, their performance was boosted considerably and that was following Briatore’s bitching about engine parity. I think they already tuned their engines to get more power, and now they are getting another chance. It will be interesting to see if Renault’s top speed next year is considerably higher compared to it’s competitors this year.

  7. I believe FIA and FOTA understand what they are talking about but I do have some questions here:

    How is engine life doubled when it is still to last 3 instead of 2 races ? (and that is nothing new anyway) Will there still be that “engine joker” ?

    How long the 20 engines season lasts ? Does it include the winter testing or not ? What are those 4 engines for testing for when testing during season is banned ? Yes they will be allowed to test during race weekends but 4 engines per team can’t last for all 17 rounds of practice sessions, can they ?

    And what happens if someone (driver or team) somehow manages to run out of the engines ? Will there be penalty or will that mean end of the season for that driver (team) ?

  8. Jonesracing82 said on 13th December 2008, 5:39

    what they should do with regard to engines is scrap the 3 race engine rule and instead limit to say, 8 engines per car per season, they can be used whenever it suits them and if they lose 8 engines and have to use a 9th (which these days is rare as reliability is quite good) then give a penalty.
    maybe even let them use them for whichever session they like, swap them for race after quali or something……….

  9. Jonesracing82 said on 13th December 2008, 5:42

    re: engine performance!
    have they ever considered dyno testing each one to see the real performance of it before letting anyone make changes?

  10. Filipe said on 13th December 2008, 7:43

    On the other, I never thought I’d see the day when one team is now allowed to make “certain alterations” to allow it to catch up. So, there’s a financial crisis. But that’s not F1, sorry. It just isn’t. I thought this was a competition. I long ago stopped pointing out to Nascar fans that there was something wrong with tweaking aero rules on a team-by-team basis to keep the major teams level with each other, or throwing out flags if someone got too far ahead. But I don’t see how this is any different from that, or weight penalties or whatever (I no longer criticize Nascar, needless to say).

    It’s not the same. When the engine were freeze Renault had one of the best if not the best engine on the grid (that’s why Red Bull dump Ferrari to Toro Rosso and made a deal with them). They did follow the rules while Mercedes, Ferrari and BMW engine all “misteriously” improve despite the freeze. So it’s not like the teams are letting the weaker engine catch up just to keep the grid closer.

  11. Pingguest said on 13th December 2008, 14:22

    The engine is one the areas where we should look for opportunities to save money, but for opportunities to make manufactures and teams spend their money to something road relevant. Allow any configuration and limit the fuel consumption. This will make manufactures to develop clean and fuel efficient engines.

  12. theRoswellite said on 13th December 2008, 18:25

    Pingguest:

    Allow any configuration and limit the fuel consumption. This will make manufactures to develop clean and fuel efficient engines.

    You can also do this by simply restricting the amount of fuel that can be used during the race, which would allow you to keep working toward better gas mileage by simply reducing the amount of fuel available, without lowering the race distance.

    THE PROBLEM WITH THIS IS…. you certainly will change the nature of the race. It will go from a speed-relevant to an economy-relevant contest, and that is not exactly what most people want to see in F1.

  13. Oliver said on 13th December 2008, 21:49

    Doesn’t this now mean that Renault can tune their engines to the new 18,000rpm regulations and probably increase the power also?

  14. Pingguest said on 14th December 2008, 9:42

    theRoswellite,

    The FIA could make Formula 1 more fuel efficient by restricting the fuel consumption per race and/or limiting the fuel flow. I’m in favour of combining both: restrict the fuel consumption per race and, to control the maximum engine output in both qualifying and race, limit the fuel flow.

    Yes, it would chance the nature of the race. But why wouldn’t people like it? At least, the race wouldn’t be decided if a driver as has a 30 seconds lead with only 3 laps to go.

  15. Alastair said on 14th December 2008, 11:24

    The fuel consumed by the teams during a race weekend is negligble compared the fuel costs in getting to the venues.

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