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. Filipe – how can we be certain that Renault didn’t do any mysterious improvements themselves, but just never caught up with Ferrari and Mercedes – and since Flavio is the uberbitch of F1, he did what comes naturally!
    I am unsure that this proposal really saves money however, as the engines need to be developed through 2009 to be extra reliable in 2010 – spend money one year to save it the next? I agree with the comments on the restricted number of engines too – what will happen if a team uses all the available engines before the end of the season? Any serious penalties against a team would probably not see them return in the following year (‘no great loss’ to Bernie……)

  2. With regard to Renault, my feeling is that they had duff aero upgrades through the early races and once they realised this they managed to get back on track (excuse the pun) by going back to their Melbourne package and taking a different route in aeros. However, this does not sound like a team that wins championships!

    I agree with other posts, in the sense that as soon as Flabbyo started winging about his power plant, Renault had a sudden surge and became a strong force all of a sudden.

    A little fishy if you ask me…

  3. I am a bit sceptical about how this one will turn out. Remember when the engine freeze came in to cut costs etc. That obviously didn’t go to plan with teams still allowed to make certain changes.

    How are they going to stop Renault making to big an improvement to their engine, it seemed to improve a bit at the end of the season anyway. I suppose with the standard ECU Max will say they can control enough of the engine characteristics so that the whole grid is evenly matched on the engine side.

    I hope that there is not to big a difference between an engine on it’s first race and one on it’s third race.

    I agree with comment 8 by Jonesracing82, if they are going to limit each team to 8 race engines a season the teams should be allowed to use them whenever they want rather than for 3 consecutive races.

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