Whitmarsh: V6 engines “the right thing” for F1

2014 F1 season

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren, 2011

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren, 2011

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said yesterday’s decision to change the future F1 engine rules was “the right thing to do”.

Speaking in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes media call he said the decision had the backing of all the F1 engine manufacturers:

“I’m happy that we have agreement between the manufacturers – they have all agreed and endorsed this, which is extremely positive – the teams have agreed it and it was agreed overwhelmingly within the F1 Commission yesterday

“So I think that’s positive because, clearly, there’s been a range of different opinions expressed and felt so to achieve a consensus amongst all the parties, I think, was very positive.”

Whitmarsh said the decision to postpone the new rules to 2014 and switch from a four- to six-cylinder configuration would encourage the existing engine builders to stay in the sport and should attract others in the future:

“In the long run we should make sure we are attractive to a range of automotive manufacturers. They will, according to their marketing needs and priorities, come in and out of Formula 1 periodically, which is what has happened over the history of Formula 1.

“The world’s gone through an economic crisis, the automotive industry had the largest recession in its entire history. And I think our timing was perhaps a little bit premature and perhaps it was a little bit too condensed.

“So I think the right thing to do is to ensure that you keep what you’ve got which I think we have been able to do with this agreement.

“I hope, in the future, for the sake of Formula 1, that new manufacturers find the regulations relevant, interesting and stimulating, and consequently at some time in the future come in as well.”

But he denied McLaren might build an engine of their own, despite having begun production of their own road car, the MP4-12C.

Whitmarsh said: “There isn’t any temptation to do so.

“Formula 1 is an incredibly powerful marketing opportunity and it’s an area that automotive companies have seen has been beneficial for brand exposure and brand differentiation. But the cost of Formula 1 is such that you need to amortise that over millions of cars per annum, not thousands.

“McLaren’s maximum planned output certainly for the foreseeable future is no greater than 4,500 units per year. So it really doesn’t make sense to use a marketing tool like Formula 1 for the engine.”

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47 comments on Whitmarsh: V6 engines “the right thing” for F1

  1. sw6569 (@sw6569) said on 23rd June 2011, 12:37

    I’m torn by this decision. The nostalgia of bringing back V6 turbos is such a great attraction that I can’t wait to hear them and see them in action. Hopefully drivers will be able to use the turbo boost as a sort of push to pass and there will be greater emphasis on the driver making that decision rather than overtaking being in allotted zones.

    However, I also feel that F1 should stay relevant. My understanding is that it was Ferrari that really pushed for the V6 (source: Joe Saward) and I feel that this may have been a mistake. I don’t really buy the argument that F1 wouldn’t have ‘sounded’ right because fans tend to grow to love what they are given. It seems a shame that it is endurance racing that leads the way in relevant road car technology.

    I also don’t see the reason for the further year’s delay. 2014 is a long time away and if the technology in the cars is not the way forward at the moment, why did they push the date back?

    • DASMAN (@dasman) said on 23rd June 2011, 12:56

      F1 does not need to just be ‘relevant’. Any relevant technologies should be a by-product of building great racing cars. I’m not saying relevant tech should not used in road cars, however it should not be the overriding factor in making the rules.

      • Douglas 62500 said on 24th June 2011, 14:46

        So do you mean that Group A kind of rules should influence motorsport a bit more ?? I guess motorsport fans across the world certainly won’t mind seeing that return !!

    • Mouse_Nightshirt said on 23rd June 2011, 13:32

      I’m sure it takes a few years to design a fully functional, reliable and powerful F1 spec engine. Considering 2014 is just 3 years away, I think they’ll have their work cut out!

      • hohum said on 23rd June 2011, 16:12

        Or they can go back to their museum and pull the engine out of their 1980s cars and use them, mind you they will have to de-tune them so as not to exceed the allowed horsepower.

  2. Fixy (@fixy) said on 23rd June 2011, 12:43

    Right decision? ….Yeah

  3. Josh said on 23rd June 2011, 12:48

    Erm, well the BMWs in the mid 80′s sounded great…

    …and lets be honest, if you were Renault or P.U.R.E you would be pretty mad that your research up till now is a little wasted.

    V6 vs 4? Who cares…if you told me 10 years ago that we would be stuck with V8′s I’d be confused about why, but time moves on…

  4. mole (@mole) said on 23rd June 2011, 12:52

    Amortise? What a nice word!

  5. Becken said on 23rd June 2011, 13:01

    Sorry for the off topic, but McLaren guys are saying that we are bringing more upgrades to Valencia.

    Any info about that?

  6. I’m a bit ambivalent about this move. I quite liked the idea of having 1.6 litre in-line 4-cylinder turbos, but I guess the V6s will do just fine. At least they’ll have quite a potent KERS system added to them.

    So, with Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault engine supplies now likely to be secured for the forseeable future, what about potential newcomers? I was intrigued by one of Joe Saward’s latest scribblings regarding future engine suppliers.

    Saward mentions the PURE initiative, ofcourse, but also a French consortium that could back Pollock in his quest to return to F1, as well as Honda. Plus there’s always the option for McLaren to start building their own powerplant to replace their customer (!) Mercedes engines…

    … or Whitmarsh and Dennis could plan a nice coup and take-over Cosworth, which Saward hints at: perhaps McLaren could do with Cosworth what Mercedes has done with Ilmor.

  7. Ben Bailey said on 23rd June 2011, 13:46

    Wonder if a future Macca road car will be 1.6 V6 turbo. Sub £50k. Heres hoping…

  8. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 23rd June 2011, 13:53

    Regardless of what the rules are I think we should all take some pride in this decision. After the disaster that was the Bahrain ‘do we/don’t we’ affair, it’s good to see that the FIA, FOTA and the engine manufacturers can get together and agree on something.

    This sounds like a good compromise to me.

    • Mike said on 23rd June 2011, 15:26

      I don’t agree, yes it’s nice for them to agree, but it’s plain to see not everyone agrees and that by changing the rule set and moving it back yet again… well… I just don’t have the confidence that this will ever happen.

  9. Harry Palmer said on 23rd June 2011, 14:14

    Keith, really sorry to be picky but I spotted a couple of small typos…

    “Whitmarsh said the decision to postpone the new rules to 2014 and switch from a four- to six-cylinder configuration would encourage the existing engine builders to stay in the support and should attract others in the future”

    I presume this should read ‘stay in the sport’ rather than support.

    “But he denied McLaren might to build an engine of their own, despite having begun production of their own road car, the MP4-12C.”

    ‘might [want] to build’ or ‘might build’

    “over millions or cars per annum”

    ‘over millions [of] cars per annum’

  10. I agree, nice to see a little compromise from the FIA once and awhile.

    • hohum said on 23rd June 2011, 16:17

      Where’s the compromise it was only I4s now it’s only V6s. A compromise would be 1.6L max 6 cylinders any layout.

      • montreal95 said on 23rd June 2011, 17:05

        no, it was between I4, V8 and the middle solution which was V6. So it was indeed a compromise, although I would prefer it to be 1.6L sny layout, any number of cylinders

  11. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 23rd June 2011, 14:35

    When he says “all the manufacturers”, is he including PURE in that?

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 23rd June 2011, 15:14

      Curious about that myself. They should be as they have officially introduced themselves to the FIA and the teams as being in on it.

  12. BasCB (@bascb) said on 23rd June 2011, 15:11

    I agree with Withmarsh, that the most important thing is, that everyone has signed up to this.

    As for that last paragraphs

    “Formula 1 is an incredibly powerful marketing opportunity and it’s an area that automotive companies have seen has been beneficial for brand exposure and brand differentiation. But the cost of Formula 1 is such that you need to amortise that over millions or cars per annum, not thousands.

    “McLaren’s maximum planned output certainly for the foreseeable future is no greater than 4,500 units per year. So it really doesn’t make sense to use a marketing tool like Formula 1 for the engine.”

    Bahar would do well to listen to that!

  13. Ant said on 23rd June 2011, 15:17

    Any word on Renault’s thoughts on this? I thought they had already been developing a 4 cylinder engine for the 2013 rules and were happy to stick with them?

  14. spankythewondermonkey (@spankythewondermonkey) said on 23rd June 2011, 15:47

    ahhh, the 80′s and the 1.5L v6 turbos kicking out 1000hp/L in quali trim. sadly we won’t be getting that again….

    i’ve got no problem with the move to v6 or the further delay of a year. we are so used to not seeing engine failures, but that’s due to the dev that’s gone into them over the years. 2014 is only 30 months away so to get a reliable, powerful motor in that time should be achievable.

  15. Tom said on 23rd June 2011, 16:05

    Slightly confused by McLaren’s lack of interest in building their own F1 engine.

    • hohum said on 23rd June 2011, 16:41

      Because they have nothing to gain under the current rules.

    • beneboy (@beneboy) said on 23rd June 2011, 16:44

      What would be the point ?

      They’re never going to make enough production engines based on the F1 design to make it economically viable so why waste so much money on what could only be described as a vanity project when that money could be spent developing their own range of production cars ?

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