F1 ‘risked losing manufacturers’ without new engines

2014 F1 season

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, Albert Park, 2014McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says Formula One’s new engine formula was necessary to prevent engine manufacturers from leaving the sport.

“With this new power unit we have developed is a completely industry-relevant engine formula,” he said. “This is why actually we could attract some new engine manufacturers – and keep some of them on board, actually.”

Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari are the only engine manufacturers competing in Formula One following the loss of Cosworth over the winter. FIA president Jean Todt credited the new rules for encouraging Honda to plan for a return to the sport with McLaren next year.

The quieter sound of the new V6 turbo engines provoked some criticism following the first race weekend of the season.

“With every big change there is always some problem comes,” said Boullier. “It’s true that we cannot dismiss the fans’ complaints.”

“But we are also seeing some positives and we need to not focus only on the noise.”

Boullier said the increased torque of the engines and reduction in downforce on the cars made them more challenging to drive.

“It is more of a driver formula and you could see that this weekend, there were a lot of small mistakes,” he said. “And even if there is a need to manage and save fuel and energy, it was still interesting to see some overtaking, however, and it was really a challenge for the drivers.”

“It’s true the engine sound is different but that is not very different from the turbo engines we had in the seventies. I think it needs a little bit of time to see what is going on and how it develops.”

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72 comments on F1 ‘risked losing manufacturers’ without new engines

  1. Sam Andrew said on 20th March 2014, 10:26

    Hmmm and what’s the problem with losing the manufacturers? the teams would have to make do with smaller budgets but would that be bad for the sport? I guess there would be less competition for Ferrari, so they would probably dominate the sport again.

    • thatscienceguy said on 20th March 2014, 11:32

      If the engine manufacturers leave, who will make the engines?

    • Keith Campbell (@keithedin) said on 20th March 2014, 12:07

      The teams have certain overheads they can’t avoid, such as entry fees, travel/transport, factory overheads etc. So less manufacturer money will mean smaller budgets yes, but that may well lead to teams folding rather than operating on a reduced budget. Some teams are already running at pretty much the minimum budget to stay in the sport.

      While the main interested in F1 is undoubtedly at the front of the grid, i don’t think it would survive if there were only 3-4 teams on track. After all, fewer cars means less action, more predictability, less drivers/teams to support in the first place, and ultimately less people watching.

      • Sam Andrew said on 20th March 2014, 12:48

        The smaller teams aren’t getting the same handouts as the big teams from the Manufactures, the smaller teams wouldn’t be as affected.

      • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 20th March 2014, 14:02

        @keithedin
        This is why I think the budget cap idea is absolute nonsense. It only affects the teams at the front who already have the money to compete, forcing them to lay off thousands of professions. For the teams at the back, the ones genuinely struggling for money, it will make absolutely zero difference. I don’t know why people are failing to recognise this seemingly obvious point, that making the rich teams less rich won’t make the poor teams any less poor.

        F1 needs to be made cheaper at a much more fundamental level.

    • timi (@timi) said on 20th March 2014, 12:28

      The teams may have to actually increase spending. It’s simple economics,- less suppliers means, less substitute goods. This leads to a price-hike due to low price-elasticity of demand. I know if I was one of just two engine manufacturers, I would put my prices way up, as any normal company would

      • Sam Andrew said on 20th March 2014, 12:44

        The teams can’t spend money they don’t have anymore, The big manufactures are financing the sport and making it harder for smaller independent teams, Mercedes and Renault aren’t making engines to make money out of the teams, they’re doing it advertise their brands.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 20th March 2014, 12:31

      Losing manufacturers as constructors is one thing, but losing them as engine suppliers is something else entirely, and a far bleaker prospect.

    • ShoponF (@shoponf) said on 20th March 2014, 13:16

      I think rather than having a single manufacturer making the power unit, F1 should allow the 3 main components i.e. Engine, motor generator unit-Kinetic (MGU-K), motor generator unit-Heat (MGU-H) to be manufactured by different manufacturers. The racing teams will build the control electronics (CE). This will allow engine constructors such as Cosworth to remain in F1, and also bring in other specialists manufacturers into play. This should create more competitions with added bonus of bringing the costs down. Situation we have now is, that Mercedes supplied power units are likely to dominate and unless a racing team has a Mercedes unit it will have no chance of becoming competitive.

  2. Spawinte (@spawinte) said on 20th March 2014, 10:26

    Didn’t 3 new manufacturers join Aussie V8s recently?

    • cheepy said on 20th March 2014, 10:44

      Nissian joined last year and a team used Mercedes Benz e class as an entry no official factory support for the team
      Volvo joined this year and came 2nd in the first weekend of racing so pretty impressive

    • gruntr18 (@gruntr18) said on 20th March 2014, 12:07

      Thats more down to a change in regulations. Uniform chassis and certain parts has made it easier for new manufacturers to join. Plus they run E85 fuel and are slowly moving towards a DTM route which could mean V6 engines in a few years.

    • William (@william) said on 20th March 2014, 12:18

      @spawinte – and now they will set to go because of the TV deal with less races exclusive to Ten as 6 or 7 races will be shown live on Ten. V8s won’t last till 2020 because of James warburton who has mucked up the place already and has been in office for less then a year. I feel sad for our own Aussie V8s. James Warburton didn’t answer any questions regarding the TV deal as he declined to come in which in a V8 podcast

      • ChuckL8 said on 20th March 2014, 18:06

        I’m way up in California, but I would hate to see the Aussie V8s weakened in any way. I honestly think that the class can successfully expand to other areas, especially to the USA, which desperately needs a relatively inexpensive, crowd-pleasing, great sounding sedan series.

        And “great sounding” is a very important component, in my opinion, much more so than some would think, so adding V6s to the Aussie V8s would be a step in the wrong direction. We’re already seeing the negative feedback concerning the 2014 F1 engine sounds. Racing is supposed to be noisy, … so noisy that it offends some and makes the hair on the backs of the necks of true fans stand on end. If you lose that, you dilute the sport.

  3. OneBHK (@onebhk) said on 20th March 2014, 10:30

    Which new manufacturer are we expecting to join?? Honda has joined, but Cosworth has left.

    Also we need new teams, not just engine manufacturers. This new formula might bring a host of new engine suppliers, but not enough teams to buy their engines.

    Finally I get a sneaky feeling that all this is done to try and woo the Volkswagen group. That will be a shame, coz Audi have categorically stated that have no plans for F1 in the near future.

  4. dutch in sweden (@dutch-in-sweden) said on 20th March 2014, 10:33

    Funny that with all the new electronics we actually have a driver’s car again. Boullier is not the first to take up the argument of manufactures leaving, if there would be a change in engines. The development of F1 had been standing still and changes made were on safety, downforce and overtaking. You could of cause pick the discussion that F1 should be a free class, but with today’s economics that wouldn’t work. Personally I like the new sound and like that you can hear what is going on with the power supply, turbo, tires and so on. And on top the cheers that was coming from the public when Riccardo drove past.

    • Hemz Shaw (@hemzshaw) said on 20th March 2014, 17:09

      Personally I like the new sound and like that you can hear what is going on with the power supply, turbo, tires and so on. And on top the cheers that was coming from the public when Riccardo drove past.

      You wrote my exact thoughts! I really started liking the sound. There was this Birthday Ecard I made once with a quote “As each year pass, you start realizing that the volume knob also turns left” and now find it so right :P

  5. I have to say I think it’s funny how all these high-up personnel in Formula One are saying: ‘Oh yes we hear the fans’ complaints about the new engines and something must be done about it.’

    And yet all of the complaints on double points (of which there are considerably more) have kind of fallen on deaf ears.

  6. nidzovski (@nidzovski) said on 20th March 2014, 10:54

    Honda will have time to boost the noise, after all they have a great sound with high revving engines for the road cars :D

  7. kikk (@kikk) said on 20th March 2014, 11:04

    Now, F1 risks losing spectators!!!

    • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 20th March 2014, 12:33

      @kikk If the spectators were only watching so that they could make their ears bleed are they really worth holding on to?

      • Paul Sainsbury said on 20th March 2014, 15:24

        Have you been to a GP? It is hard to describe the sort of primal excitement that a big F1 fan gets from the sound (pre 2014). That is why if you visit Spa the in the evenings the sound of F1 is being played loudly through PA systems. these are real F fans, and I have a feeling there won’t be much point in playing the 2014 engines the night before……..
        So I think these people are indeed worth ‘holding onto’.

        • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 20th March 2014, 18:42

          I’ve been to grand prix with both V10 and V8 engines and can’t wait for my first V6 turbo race visit to hear the new noise – sounds great so far.

          Also, in my experience a large proportion of fans trackside at F1 races use ear plus or ear defenders, I’d say probably more than half. That to me suggests that the majority will find the change in volume an improvement.

        • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 23rd March 2014, 7:34

          @paulsainsbury Yes, indeed I have. I have been an F1 fan all my life and I love nothing more than the noise of an F1 car. BUT, simple fact is that the 2.4 liter, rev limited V8′s were not and will never be the be all and end all of F1 engines. Anyone making out that they are or where, or that if F1 is powered by anything but a high revving normally aspirated engine, is totally incorrect.

          @kikk Interesting that the video link you posted was to a turbo engine, not a normally aspirated screamer. I think my point is proven. ;)

      • joc_the_man (@joctheman) said on 20th March 2014, 16:05

        there are many many F1 fans that were in love in the magic (where the sound was an important trademark) and spent loads of money at the race weekends. For sure worth holding on to and that penny seems finally have droped by some people like bernie. Add the fuel- and fuel-flow cr-p and people will focus other things. F1 has lost the wow-factor. A bit late, I would state but now we need to look fwd. How to get FIA to acknowledge? They seems not to give a s–t and loads of denial acting. Worrying.

      • kikk (@kikk) said on 20th March 2014, 16:09

        @GeeMac Do you know which are our senses? These are the traditional – vision, hearing, taste, smell, touch. Obviously, the important senses for F1 are VISION, HEARING and SMELL if you are some type of guy, who wants to smell the exhaust gases. I am really sorry if don’t understand. Listen to this McLaren MP4/4 and tell me you are not feeling something in your stomach.

  8. Karthikeyan (@ridiculous) said on 20th March 2014, 11:13

    I’m with gatekiller on this.. We lost one manufacturer and we won’t gain one till 2015

  9. Chris Kiss (@bluechris) said on 20th March 2014, 11:14

    F1 must be thrilling as it was in past time… you need to hear an F1 car and you need to feel humble in front of this… at this moment F1 is no more than a Real Live Video Game where young kids like Magnussen and the others (no disrespect to any young driver in F1 here) practising in Simulators all day/night and jump in a car and drive it … this is wrong in all areas.
    I watched a interview with Button in Saturday i think in SkyUK and he was saying that when he was young and joined F1 it was troumendous and frightening but now the youngsters step in and drive fine.. this backups my thoughts all this time.
    As for the difficulty in driving which is the extra tork this is not so biggy except if 3-4 spins from the back that all saved correctly from the No1 drivers of the world was this years extra difficulty.

    • Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 20th March 2014, 22:17

      “As for the difficulty in driving which is the extra tork this is not so biggy except if 3-4 spins from the back that all saved correctly from the No1 drivers of the world was this years extra difficulty.”
      … What?

      • Chris Kiss (@bluechris) said on 21st March 2014, 12:28

        Yeap.. in comparison last years driving this year the only change is more torque in low revs… in the whole race where you saw that this was a problem except Botas touching the wall? its obvius that the drivers managed easily to use to this. Also dont watch the Melbourne which was damp etc… lets move to high temp tracks and then we see if any car will slip from the back after full throtle above 3nd gear.

  10. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 20th March 2014, 11:20

    You’ve kept three and Honda is joining next year…but its hardly like it was 7 or 8 years ago where there were many manufacturers.

  11. Would it have been possible to keep the V8s and incorporate all the ERS systems introduced this year?

    • Palle (@palle) said on 20th March 2014, 14:07

      Its not the number of cylinders that defines the volume of noise in dB – its the turbo, which greatly reduces the noise.
      My 1990 BMW 3 series had a 3,0 liter Schnitzer engine with a very nice and sporty sound. I swapped it for a 3,2 l BMW engine with a big turbo – the sound level and quality dropped, as the power level increased about 40%. And the rear muffler was the original Schnitzer for both engines.

      • ExPatBrit said on 21st March 2014, 1:31

        Noise is vibration, which is wasted energy.

        Everything you can harvest makes the car faster.

        Expect Toyota back as an engine supplier, they have a long term commitment to this technology.

  12. Robbie (@robbie) said on 20th March 2014, 12:03

    While I agree with some of what Boullier touches on, and I’m generally ok with this new era, there are unfortunate negatives too, and I am hopeful that things will get tweaked the right way as time moves along.

    I agree the cars have less downforce and are very torquey and therefore more of a handful to drive, but I worry that F1′s obsession with downforce will see them claw that back. I worry that fuel conservation is something the driver does not have to do…he only has to flip switches on the steering wheel in accordance with direction from the pits…so that element is gone from the drivers’ task and is also a limiting one. DRS is something I will never agree with. Double points has a chance a ruining what may or may not be a great season. And once things settle down and the teams have fairly well tackled the steepest part of their learning curves, will we then see a return of bad tires? Will the gadgets and gimmicks keep coming?

    I’m trying to be hopeful and optimistic, but the direction of recent years has been wrong imho, not power unit wise but gadget and gimmick wise, and while I think it is great that the cars are a bit more of a handful to drive, there are still too many other things counter to that. Every great pass will be countered with a mundane one, and the true Champion might not win the WDC.

    In my perfect world, and while the cars are in some ways more back in the drivers’ hands, get rid of DRS, double points, and fuel conservation. We know these engines are less thirsty which is great…the drivers shouldn’t be passengers having to monitor that further. They should have to be slightly concerned about it and have to do that on their own. And keep downforce low.

    • Palle (@palle) said on 20th March 2014, 14:14

      “In my perfect world, and while the cars are in some ways more back in the drivers’ hands, get rid of DRS, double points, and fuel conservation. We know these engines are less thirsty which is great…the drivers shouldn’t be passengers having to monitor that further. They should have to be slightly concerned about it and have to do that on their own. And keep downforce low.”
      I agree.

    • Bomarcuda (@bomarcuda) said on 20th March 2014, 15:14

      Right on Robbie!

  13. Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 20th March 2014, 12:08

    This is why actually we could attract some new engine manufacturers – and keep some of them on board, actually

    Just make some valid rules and you will see how many engine manufacturers will come to F1

    It is more of a driver formula

    A driver’s formula was back in the 80′s when the legendary Gilles Villeneuve invented the left foot braking to reduce the turbo lag and the great Ayrton Senna invented the trick of cornering using the boost instead of the throttle to preserve the tyres from the excessive torque and the professor Alain Prost was able to preserve his car to the last millimeter……… these days it’s all controlled by software all what the driver has to do is to deal with it

    Every time Boullier(Horner bis) speaks he gets under my skin because he keeps always lying and repeating the same PR rubbish , i’m just wondering if he thinks the fans are that stupid because i’m pretty confident that on this forum alone we have many talented people, even more talented than him …..

  14. OOliver said on 20th March 2014, 13:26

    Lets face it, only Ferrari have been consistent as an engine supplier in F1. All other manufactures have come and gone and maybe come again.
    The manufacturers have their priorities for competing in F1 and road relevance is always given as an excuse. Honda have openly stated that they are entering F1 to win. What then happens if they don’t win anything for a few years? Road relevance or not, they will still pull out if they seem to just be throwing money into an endless pit.

  15. Boullier should take some English dissertation classes before tackling FIA policies. The only thing said that it is undeniable is that the cars are more fun to watch but they aren’t relevant as no road going engine will ever be built at the same spec of demand that these are and they haven’t contributed yet to increase the manufacturers in F1 at this point we’ve loss one.

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