Cosworth may offer KERS and transmission packages to F1 teams in 2013.
F1 business manager Mark Gallagher told F1 Fanatic they are considering the move to coincide with radical new engine regulations.
He hailed the rules change, calling it: “a new era where new technologies and innovation will be rewarded.” Read on for the full interview:
F1 Fanatic: When did Cosworth begin participating in the discussions about the 2013 engine regulations?
Mark Gallagher: At the tail end of 2009, so it’s been a year of deliberations. Our group chief executive Tim Routsis attended all of the meetings. Unlike me, he comes from an engineering background, but also Tim was pivotal to negotiating with the teams to get Cosworth back into Formula 1 as an engine supplier so he’d taken a close personal interest in this.
He attended all the meetings, I attended a couple of meetings with the manufacturers as well. It’s been a long and quite arduous process but I think it would be right to say that the formula of having a small, 1.6-litre turbocharged engine as the internal combustion engine part of the package was arrived at quite early on.
The requirement to reduce fuel consumption significantly was there from the outset and the FIA, led by Jean Todt, with the Engine Working Group meetings chaired by Gilles Simon, have driven the agenda pretty strongly the whole way through.
The announcement that was made is one we’re pretty confident would come out for probably the last three or four months.
F1F: Was the result what Cosworth wanted to see from the negotiations?
MG: What Cosworth wanted to see from the negotiations wasn’t a specific engine but a specific economic model that would make it possible for an independent engine supplier to afford to develop a competitive engine that would be affordable to our customers.
We were relatively agnostic about what that engine might be given that our principle objective is for us to run a business, which is profitable, in Formula 1 supplying engines to teams.
What do we then think of the configuration that’s been come up with? Well, we know from our automotive business here that the world is moving in the direction of having small, high-performance engines. Turbocharging, reducing fuel consumption and the hybridisation of road cars is upon us therefore the return of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems and, indeed, the increased importance of KERS in the 2013 regulations comes as no surprise.
We’re satisfied that with these rules we can develop a competitive engine and, more to the point, a competitive power unit including the KERS. Because part of what’s in our mind at the moment is that going forward Cosworth needs to provide a bigger overall solution. We already work closely with our teams on gearbox testing, which we do here. We are, of course, validating the KERS engine at the moment for Williams who are going to be running KERS this coming season.
And I think the reality is that the new regulations give us all a reasonable opportunity to spend the next two years coming up with a good solution. It’s good that the announcement was made before the end of 2010. Obviously the chips are down now, we have to crack on with coming up with this new power train.
F1F: As you mentioned earlier [see part one of this interview] one of the strengths of the status quo is that all four of the engine builders have a good balance of strengths across their different products. Is there a concern that, with two years’ development on these new units, when 2013 rolls around there will be one that’s way out ahead of all the others?
MG: If there is one that’s way out ahead of the others then the FIA will recognise that it has failed, along with the car manufacturers, to come up with adequate checks and balances to prevent that happening.
It’s not in anyone’s interest for one engine manufacturer to run away with the ball. The engine as a differentiator of success on the track isn’t a pre-requisite. The engine is there to do a job, to power the cars around the track. It should be up to the chassis manufacturers to differentiate and the drivers to differentiate between who wins and who loses.
That said, of course there have to be some rewards for producing an engine that’s more fuel efficient, therefore the car is lighter, and producing energy recovery systems that are more effective.
But that’s the real beauty of these regulations. The emphasis will be on who can produce the most efficient and effective unit within the regulations. That doesn’t just mean the most powerful, this is not about the age-old objectives of engine manufacture, this is about a new era where lightness, leanness, efficiency, the effectiveness of new technologies and innovation will be rewarded.
Clearly if someone, be it Cosworth or Ferrari or Mercedes-Benz, uncovers some wonderful piece of technology, the industry being what it is, we’ll all realise pretty quickly and catch up.
We might have a ‘double-diffuser moment’, and if that happens we’ll have to address it, but if someone just runs away with the ball it will be regarded as a failure of the process to come up with fixed regulations that will work.
F1F: Is there a concern about the cost involved in developing these new engines?
MG: There is concerted effort to put in place a Resource Restriction Agreement with immediate effect, governing engines.
F1F: Is that separate from the existing RRA?
MG: Yes, because there isn’t one for engines, because we’ve had them homologated and frozen. That’s the next step and that’s happening right now.
It’s being created at the moment because work starts now. So there will be a number of measures which the FIA, in partnership with KPMG, are working to devise with the manufacturers, so that no-one goes off and spends a colossal amount of money.
The good thing from Cosworth’s point of view is that we’re pretty confident that for whatever sum of money we’re allowed to spend, we will do a really good job. We are a very efficient company, we have a core team of experts here who are very good at what they do and we have already started looking at what we can achieve from this engine.
And, contrary to some of the fans’ postings on the internet which were interesting to read following the announcement, this isn’t about the dumbing down of Formula 1, this is extraordinarily exciting, it’s amazingly exciting.
Formula 1 has been lagging behind the car industry in terms of innovation. Running around with 2.4-litre V8 engines which suck up quite a lot of fuel doesn’t really say much about innovation.
I was reading one post on the internet from a fan saying “we need V12s engines with lots of noise and lots of power”. We can all go back and build Cosworth DFVs and Lotus 49s and go racing as in days gone by. But we’re in the 21st century. Formula 1 provides spectacular entertainment and part of that has always been spectacularly innovation and technology.
To produce 600bhp from a 1.6-litre engine, turbocharge it, have energy recovery systems, to have a huge electric motor, to show the world that the hybridisation of cars is an exciting thing and you can still get amazing performance – lap times are not going to change – is very exciting.
And I think they’ll still sound great. We’ll do whatever we need to make them sound great. I know from having worked in A1 Grand Prix for four years before I came back into Formula 1, the Zytek V8 engine in A1GP sounded terrific and the Ferrari engine after it sounded pretty good.
Yes, we will lose the 20,000 rpm ‘screamers’ but you’ll get used to it very quickly – it’s not worse, it’s just different. The spectacle will be extraordinary.
I think people need to focus on the technology. The multi-cylinder engines of old are the typewriters of Formula 1. We need to move into the PC age and recognise that the technology that F1 needs to develop should be more in-keeping with the times we are living in.
Wouldn’t it be great to see, in ten years’ time, we can go out and buy sports cars that have got incredibly exciting technology in them, produce lots and lots of power, huge performance, but were burning a lot less of the planet’s resources?
F1F: I think you’re right when you say there’s a lot to be gained from that focus on technology. But is it difficult to have that when all the engine manufacturers want to keep their secrets a secret?
MG: I think the great thing about Formula 1 is that there’s always been secrets, but ultimately the secrets find their way through to benefit the car manufacturers’ products.
We’ve been thinking about what we’ve learned from Formula 1 that can be applied elsewhere. That’s very exciting but I remember one of the posts I read [after the regulations were announced] said “this is just green-wash” and “it’s political correctness gone mad for Formula 1″ – it’s not, this is about saying “how can we push the boundaries of technology to have the same lap time, the same performance or better, using 35% less fossil fuel and a very clever set of technologies?”
You might say “well, the fans won’t be bothered about it” but I think that would be being rude to fans. I think they want to hear about the details of new technology.
At the moment if you take the cover off a Formula 1 car, we have a V8 engine and a gearbox. We had a Lotus 49 here for our staff end-of-season party and it also has a V8 engine and a gearbox and that’s from 1967. Here we are in 2010 and we’ve still got the same – albeit a very sophisticated type of engine and a very sophisticated type of gearbox.
The world has moved on. Formula 1 shouldn’t be lagging behind the world, Formula 1 should be producing technology which excites people and shows the way forward.
This year we produced an Impreza Cosworth with 400bhp from a two-litre engine. It’s an amazing piece of kit, that’s the kind of thing that excites us and I think for Formula 1 these new regulations will be a new era.
F1F: It’s interesting that you say Formula 1 shouldn’t be “lagging behind” in some respects. Historically Formula 1 hasn’t had that problem because the regulations were free and allowed people to pursue what they wanted, like in the Chapman era. But now it seems that embracing new technology has to happen through the regulations to contain costs.
MG: And that’s the interesting balance. The new regulations are not devised to spend money, they are devised to increased innovation.
I hope they are successful and, to go back to your point, we all hope that no-one runs away with the ball and Formula 1 remains highly competitive between multiple teams.
F1F: We’ve seen rows about regulations and the future of the sport before. How did the negotiations over the engine formula go from a political point of view – particularly after the change of leadership at the FIA?
MG: We are pretty clear about our position: we’re an independent supplier, we don’t own a team – unlike Ferrari or Mercedes , or Renault until recently.
So sitting at the table for the last year the other three manufacturers of engines are also team owners and that rather changes their view of the world because they’re thinking about sponsorship, the teams, their business model. We only have to have to worry about manufacturing and leasing out engines.
I think that the talks have been at all times earnest. It has all been taken very seriously. There’s been a concerted effort by everyone to get their points across. All the points haven’t necessarily been the same – different people have different requirements.
But there was a very clear flow of the conversation in the direction that it ended up: smaller, more efficient engines.
The FIA clearly had an appetite to change the rules. Obviously the counter-point to that was could the rules be changed later – in 2014, 2015 or 2016 – or should we just decide to keep the V8s?
Cosworth’s position in all that was that as long as it is responsible and affordable for our customers, we will produce engines. If it’s a V8, we’ll do a V8. If it’s a four-cylinder turbo with a big KERS drive and energy recovery systems we’ll do that.
I suppose our leaning as an engineering company was towards innovation. We can keep the V8s running as long as we want but I think the opportunity to have a step change excites the engineers here.
F1F: Was there a feeling that there should be more than one type of engine as there has been in the past, or as there is in sports cars with their diesels and so on?
MG: I think that was discounted right at the beginning because the reality is the parity in Formula 1 is very good. Equivalence formulae tend to be unbalanced as we’ve seen at Le Mans where the turbodiesels have run away with the show for the last few years and they’re now belatedly re-balancing things a little bit.
But we all remember when Jean-Pierre Jabouille turned up in the 1.5-litre Renault turbo. The Cosworth V8s and Ferrari V12s had been the engine of the moment and suddenly this upstart turbo turned up and initially looked like a disaster – it produced all its power in a very narrow band.
But within a few years you had BMW’s four-cylinder turbo, Ferrari went turbo-charged, Cosworth lost a valiant fight to keep the V8s competitive, and we went into the turbo era of the eighties with Honda turbos in the McLarens and Williamses and so on.
So I think we’ve been through that ‘equivalency war’ before and seen that, actually, what it does is waste money and leads to one or another failing. And actually having a common set of rules is a good thing.
F1F: As you’ve said the hybridisation is a big part of the new formula. What’s Cosworth’s role at the moment in developing Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems?
MG: At the moment Williams are the only one of our customers who are going to be using KERS in 2011.
Virgin and HRT are not. Both those teams have expressed an interest in KERS for 2012.
Obviously in Williams’ case they have got their own hybrid power company and have their own solution. So we’re integrating a Williams solution with a Cosworth solution to provide what we want.
We have a number of options for how we might proceed in the future. Obviously Williams would be very interested to sell their system to more and more teams. As everyone has seen Williams recently agreed to supply transmission systems to HRT.
But equally we’ve had discussions with a number of suppliers and with all of our teams about options for the future. I don’t want to say too much other than that we have some pretty clear thoughts as to what we’d like to do for 2013.
We’re not ready yet to announce what those are but, clearly, having a completely integrated rear end of the car will be the right thing to have. So that means engine, transmission and KERS designed together and working together in complete harmony, providing the right weight distribution, providing the right functionality and operational requirements.
So, what I would say is the days of Cosworth doing just the engine and not worrying about everything else are coming to an end because we have to take a holistic view.
Obviously Ferrari, who we are selling engines against, and Mercedes and Renault, because they own teams they’ll be sitting down and thinking ‘how can we do the whole thing?’ We have to be in the same mindset.
F1F: So, from the point we’re at now, two years away from the start of the 2013 season, how do you plan something as big as designing an entirely new engine – and, as you’ve just said, an entirely new rear end of a car?
MG: It’s obviously a major job. We have a proven methodology at Cosworth for coming up with engineering solutions. We initially spend time looking at the concept and defining what it is that we’re going to do.
We then take that through to simulating the planned product, then development of the product, manufacturing of the product, validating it and doing all the testing work, right back to the point where you’re ready to deliver engines to customers.
Whether it’s a Formula 1 engine, an aircraft engine, whatever it might be, we have an engineering process we follow. Bruce Wood and the technical group here will be doing that for the Formula 1 activity.
We know the timeframe we have to work to because it’s an immovable deadline. We have to be there for testing in February 2013 with a completely new solution. Although it may seem a long time away the next 26 months will fly by.
We’ve got two busy Formula 1 seasons, we’ve got 40 Grands Prix between now and then. So essentially, what will happen at Cosworth is the F1 business under myself will continue with the existing product. The engineering group under Bruce will head off developing the new product and it’ll be a busy two years.
F1F: Would it be useful to have an increase in the amount of track testing in the lead-up to the 2013 season?
MG: I would be quite surprised if the FIA, FOM and FOTA didn’t sit down and discuss some additional testing.
Obviously this year there was a test after Abu Dhabi, I can imagine that with entirely new chassis regulations and of course engine regulations for 2013 that there might be an allowance for interim running in November and December of 2012.
Although it will be quite difficult to integrate the new powertrain onto the back of an existing car I can imagine some form of interim testing to provide an opportunity for teams to gain some mileage. It’s certainly not in Formula 1′s interest to go to the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2013 and all the cars break down. I think the validation will require more on-track operation.
F1F: You’ve said that you envisage going along with the same three teams in 2011 and 2012. In 2013 with the rules change and potentially you expanding beyond engine supply, at that point might you be looking for a new partner?
MG: Yes, all our contracts – I think like all of the car manufacturers – we will be reviewing at the end of 2012. We want to supply customers who require affordable, competitive engines, we want to provide the best technology solutions.
Do we want to supply more teams? Of course we do. Does that mean we want quantity? I think realistically with four, possibly five car manufacturers in Formula 1, [supplying] two or three teams is going to remain optimum.
The ideal solution is that the three teams we work with now all continue to make progress and we just keep the same three customers. Having said that, almost inevitably there’ll be some kind of musical chairs.
When I look at teams such as Sauber, Force India, Toro Rosso, McLaren and Red Bull – those two both run customer engine packages – of course we’d love to be with a top team. We would like to win the world championship, we want to win Grands Prix. I haven’t come here to run an engine business at the back of the grid.
Fortunately Marussia Virgin and HRT I think will make good progress next year. I think Williams are already knocking on the door of where they want to be.
So as I say, if they all progress as they wish then hopefully we’ll keep the same three customers. If there’s demand from elsewhere or we see opportunities we’ll certainly try to fill the gap.
F1F: Cosworth V8s have won so many F1 races already – you see where I’m going with this question! – how badly do you want to win one of the remaining 40?
MG: We want it badly! We would like to win a Grand Prix next year with Williams and see that team bounce back to being a top team. Williams are certainly determined to get to the point where they can challenge for the success of the kind they’ve been used to in the past.
I don’t think Patrick Head and Frank Williams, Adam Parr and Sam Michael do anything other than focus on once again becoming a truly competitive team.
For us to win would be not just very pleasurable but, for us, an important business milestone.
The pole position in Brazil gave us a new insight into the reaction of the world when you’re first. We were only first for Saturday evening but it got a huge reaction.
I was talking about this to Patrick Head and we both commented about the fact that on Saturday evening our mobile phones just melted with messages, I think Patrick had about 150 and I know I had 100.
And on Sunday after the race in Brazil we were both checking to see if out phones were broken because we never heard from anybody. People love a winner and I’d like people to see Cosworth as a winning engine supplier, we’d like the teams that we work with to be winners because it changes everyone’s view of you.
Read part one of this interview here: Williams-Cosworth ‘aim for top four in 2011′
Images © Cosworth, A1 Grand Prix, Ford, Renault, Bridgestone/Ercole Colombo, Williams/LAT