Teams differ over “questionable” new engine rules

2014 F1 season

Adrian Newey, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2014The merits of F1′s new rules were a focus of disagreement between top team staff during today’s press conference in Bahrain, during which Adrian Newey described them as “questionable”.

Against a backdrop of debate over how the new rules have changed the sport and Ferrari’s lobbying for changes to the regulations just two races into the season, Red Bull’s chief technical officer gave a critique of the switch to V6 turbo engines and energy recovery systems.

Newey, whose cars have won the last four constructors’ championships, began by questioning whether the new cars do represent the step forwards in terms of efficiency and environmentallypositive technologies they have been portrayed as.

“When you get into things like batteries then an electric car is only green if it gets its power from a green source,” said Newey. “If it gets its power from a coal-fired power station then clearly it’s not green at all.”

“A hybrid car, which is effectively what the Formula One regulations are, then a lot of energy goes into manufacturing those batteries and into the cars which is why they’re so expensive.

“Whether that then gives you a negative or a positive carbon footprint or not depends on the duty cycle of the car – how many miles does it do, is it cruising along the motorway at constant speed or stop-starting in a city. So this concept that a hybrid car is automatically green is a gross simplification.”

Newey argued there were “other ways” the cars could have been made more energy efficient.

“You can make it lighter, you can make it more aerodynamic, both of which are things that Formula One is good at. For instance the cars are 10% heavier this year – a result, directly, of the hybrid content.

“So I think technically, to be perfectly honest, it’s slightly questionable. From a sporting point of view, to me, efficiency, strategy etc, economy of driving, is very well placed for sports cars, which is a slightly different way of going racing. Formula One should be about excitement. It should be about man and machine performing at its maximum every single lap.”

‘Danger F1 would become irrelevant’

But Williams’ chief technical office Pat Symonds said it had been necessary for Formula One to adopt the new engine rules to reflect developments in road car manufacturing.

“The road car industry – rightly or wrongly – has to hit CO2 per kilometre targets and those are very difficult targets to meet,” said Symonds. “And they will have to employ technologies such as we are using in Formula One.”

“So we are moving things forward, we are more relevant than we used to be and I think that’s very important. I think there was a great danger – and I mentioned this in one of these press conferences last year – that we would become irrelevant. We would become the focus of gas-guzzling and not having social responsibility. And I think it was really important that we did move away from that.”

Bob Fernley, Force India, Bahrain International Circuit, 2014Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley endorsed that view, adding: “one thing that is important is that Honda are coming in next year and it’s the first time we’ve had another major motor manufacturer coming back into Formula One for a long long time, so that’s a tick in the box that says that actually Formula One has got it right”.

Ferrari has begun a PR offensive against the sport’s new rules, claiming they are widely disliked by fans. However Fernley pointed out the new cars are visibly harder to drive, which makes for a more exciting spectacle.

“I think that it’s great that we’re seeing cars that are difficult to drive, that are on the limit, that are breaking away at the rear end, which is something that we’ve not done for a long, long time, so I think the show is good.”

Mercedes’ executive director for technical Paddy Lowe refuted the claim the change in technology has drastically altered the quality of racing:

“From our perspective, the racing is just as it was. I don’t understand either the stories about economy drives, etc… Formula One has always been a formula in which you had to manage your fuel through the race.

“For us, that’s not different, so there are good stories around fuel saving whilst maintain the spectacle and I think we should be talking more about that.”

Doing a Ratner

Start, Albert Park, 2014Several of the team representatives warned about the dangers of those in charge of Formula One being too critical of its own product in public. Symonds used the example of Gerald Ratner, the British businessman who destroyed the value of his jewellery chain by describing its products as “total crap”.

“I think as a business we should focus on the positives,” said Symonds.

“Many people from the UK will remember a guy called Ratner who basically killed his business by negative comments on it. I think we should be positive. We’ve done something good and we should tell the world about it.”

While Newey warned “the spectators and the television viewers are going to vote with their feet”, Symonds insisted the sport has far more pressing concerns than altering its recently-devised new rules package.

“I have found it disappointing that there are so many negative comments about the new formula,” he said. “We’ve had two races, that’s not much of a sample.”

“I think the racing could improve but I don’t think that’s to do with power units and things like that. I think there are lots of other things.

“The tyres have changed very significantly this year but I think the thing that Formula One really needs to face up to is costs, it is costs that is going to kill Formula One and that should be the most important thing on our agenda right now.”

2014 F1 season


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Images © Red Bull/Getty, Force India, Daimler/Hoch Zwei

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91 comments on Teams differ over “questionable” new engine rules

  1. Bobby (@f1bobby) said on 5th April 2014, 7:29

    Intelligent comments from Newey, in stark contrast to Ferrari’s tantrums.

  2. Funkyf1 (@funkyf1) said on 5th April 2014, 7:34

    2 words “Carbon Footprint” unless that can be reduced are these innovations really a benefit?

  3. Charlieboy said on 5th April 2014, 8:37

    This why I question if formula one is a sport. These are the regulations you join a sport and go by the regs.

    To even consider a change two weeks in because a team or two have not done well with those regs or one has done particularly well is stupid.

    I can only imagine man united asking wins to be awarded 5 points because they are behind. It’s ridiculous.

    If they don’t like the sport go away and take part in another.

  4. Todfod (@todfod) said on 5th April 2014, 10:51

    Newey argued there were “other ways” the cars could have been made more energy efficient.

    “You can make it lighter, you can make it more aerodynamic, both of which are things that Formula One is good at.

    No Adrian. Both are things you are good at ;)

    I thought a company like Red Bull, with genius marketing strategy and campaigns would depart some knowledge to their formula 1 team about how crying, complaining and cheating reflects badly on their parent company.

  5. Jonathan Sarginson said on 5th April 2014, 11:49

    …all this immature whinging and whining about the noise of the 2014 F1 cars is really becoming pathetic!…I can only imagine that all these whiners are new to F1 and/or Motorsport in General…F1 has arrived at the 21st Century…there have been many changes to F1 rules since it’s conception in the 50′s…and this is the biggest step into the future yet taken…the World Endurance Championship has been going this way for many years now, and I believe that F1 can now evolve into an amazing sport with the new regulations…the only noise I’m sick of hearing is from all you childish detractors!…

  6. Ricardo Ferreira (@yes-master) said on 5th April 2014, 12:06

    Tough the F1 teams approved the 2014 rules, I have to say that I feel happy to find someone that knows exactly what f1 fans feel about it. Adrian Newey: “(…) Formula One should be about excitement. It should be about man and machine performing at its maximum every single lap.”

    However, I think that teams, like Ferrari, RBR, etc, (except Merc ofc) are “using” the F1 fans arguments and critics (like fuel control, lack of noise, lack of competitiveness) to hide their difficulties and insufficiencies to race Merc level to level. What I say is, if Ferrari and RBR were more competitive they probably would be in silence. But anyway, thank you Newey for the comment. I agree 100% with you!

  7. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 5th April 2014, 15:38

    Fascinating debate. I think just discussing it is a way to move forward for F1.

  8. Jason (@jason12) said on 5th April 2014, 16:09

    Electric cars have been considered green for a very long time now.

    Only now Newey starts questioning the merits of that.

  9. Jorge H. (@kobe08) said on 5th April 2014, 17:21

    New regulations have been set 2 or 3 year ago, right? And now that they’re not winning (RBR and Ferrari), it is all wrong and questionable.

    Given the regulations are set, you have to work with them and come up with the better package. Mercedes did it. The development race is there to win, and who does the best development work through out the season gets the titles.

    That’s it, work harder instead of crying (Adrian & LdM), because the titles are not won yet.

  10. Well Adrian, though your claims are probably correct and might have been able to carry some weight during the sand box phase of the new specifications you are completely ignoring the point of manufacturer relevance. Making this statement after you start losing makes you look like a sorry crybaby.

    It is much, much too late to start considering what the “greenest” (hate that phrase) format would be but you can make absolutely sure that no engine manufacturer will find the sport interesting as a testing facility for enhancing environmental load by means of car weight reduction and aero improvements. It obviously doesn’t have much relation to the power plant and the two don’t even rule out each other anyway. Except of course for the added weight from the hybrid which again is justified by the road car relevance. No matter how light you can make a race car it doesn’t help a road car much, and in fact it would carry much more relevance to put the efforts into shedding weight from hybrid plants and batteries as well as effectiveness of the energy recovery and batteries themselves.

  11. Martin (@aardvark) said on 5th April 2014, 18:48

    The old NA 2.4L cars revving to 18k rpm used about 160 kg of fuel per race.

    Reducing engine size and revs, you get 160 x 1.6/2.4 x 15/18 = 89 kg per race.

    They are allowed 100 kg. So actually we are going backward in fuel efficiency.

    Newey is right.

    • Martin (@aardvark) said on 5th April 2014, 18:52

      Of course, they are 10% heavier and turbo boosting is shoving more mixture into the cylinders, so it’s a bit more complicated, but still not a clear winner in the fuel efficiency stakes.

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