Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren, 2011

Whitmarsh: V6 engines “the right thing” for F1

2014 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. Douglas 62500
        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 !!

    2. Mouse_Nightshirt
      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!

      1. 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.

        1. MuzzleFlash
          23rd June 2011, 18:50

          Does F1 have a maximum power output regulation? This has escaped me for so long!

    1. That’s hilarious :D

  2. 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…

    1. THey may be mad, but it can’t have been unexpected. You always have to factor in an element of the unknown!

  3. Amortise? What a nice word!

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

    Any info about that?

    1. If you check the other McLaren phone call article…

      http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2011/06/23/mclaren-hope-benefit-rules-change-valencia/

      You will see that Whitmarsh does mention a few upgrades but doesn’t go into detail.

      You may have seen that already.

      1. You may have seen that already.

        Yes. Thank you, Andrew and Keith!

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

  8. Harry Palmer
    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’

    1. Not at all, thanks for letting me know. All fixed now.

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

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

      1. 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

        1. Sorry, I didn’t know they were lobbying for no change, good idea though.

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

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

  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!

  12. 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?

    1. McLarenFanJamm
      23rd June 2011, 16:53

      Renault have agreed to the proposal by all accounts.

  13. spankythewondermonkey (@spankythewondermonkey)
    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.

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

    1. Because they have nothing to gain under the current rules.

    2. 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 ?

  15. The good news is 6 cylinders has been allowed, the bad news, and it really is bad news is that ONLY V6 engines will be allowed, why not a flat 6 like Porsche or a flat 4 like Subaru or Renaults I4 ? Sadly the answer is that they want all engines to be the same in power and not to provide any performance advantage.Understand what that means, the engine will be irrelevant, there will be no point in building your own engine,any advantage you gain will be dialled out by the FIA, this is the real reason for turbocharging, simply by adjusting the wastegate and fuel pressure the FIA can adjust the performance to make a level playing field that no amount of ingenuity or money can change. What’s next standard body-work and wings?

    1. Given the choice I’d rather have standard wings and then give the teams the choice to build whatever engine they want.

      Although I’d much prefer to have no standardisation and to instead give the teams a set weight of fuel for the race and then let them build whatever engine they want.

      1. My thoughts exactly and I suspect most fans would agree, this is why the FIA are moving to a single engine supplier in small steps and disguising it under the cloak of pc greenness.

    2. The Last Pope
      23rd June 2011, 19:06

      +1

      And an inline 5 cylinder Turbo charged Audi or Volvo engine would have sounded amazing.

  16. While I more or less understand why these rules evolved over the years, it’s a real shame that F1 has lost, probably forever, the fantastic diversity in engine design that was so much a part of the sport’s appeal.

    1. Me too, and it is going in the name of economy. Ever see a poor F1 owner?

  17. i am happy to hear the news. But, wouldn’t be nice if they came up with the right idea at first shot, instead of making us the fans suffer for months with the nonesense of 4 cyl engines?
    I am so fed up with rule makers, that my vision of the sport suffers with this actions a little bit every time.
    Now that we have drs working for overtaking, wouldn’t it be nice to get some ground effect back so the cars look fast on a qualy lap?

  18. I was saying a few months ago that an L4 wouldn’t be ok. Instead a V6 would be just great. And apparently they arrived at this conclusion too.

    1. Like if they said a lawn-mower engine and we all said no, a motorcycle engine at least, think how happy we would all be with that 600cc Suzuki engine.

  19. They can give a go with Turbo Engine from 2014 as they have the resource & the management to do that.& second thing they have huge amount of time to develop it.

  20. “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.”

    To all those who were dreaming Mclaren was going to make their own F1 engine.

    1. They have merc engines till 2015, but after that who knows.

  21. What’s the point of going for a V6 instead of a 4 cylinders?

    The sport needs new engine manufacturers and they will be easier to persuade when the engines are cheaper. Hence 4 cylinders was unanimously agreed upon.

    What makes V6 “better” then?

  22. im not so sure i feel the only reason the fia has done this is because it will be easier to control the engine and make every single one exactly the same in every single way so that no one complains of unfair racing, and as a bi-product of this no one is able to race, such is the “one move manouver” that stands today. at the end of the day if its going to benifit someone an f1 engine maker should be allowed to make what ever the hell they want be it a flat 12 a straight 8 whatever and if the fia is so green peace conscious then maybe fuel economy is the best way to do it any engine with an mpg target with an extra trophy at the end of the season for the most frugal machine. p.s please dont think im limp wristed im not about the o zone layer or beluga whales

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