The developing engine situation
Firstly an update on the FIA-mandated of homologated engines: Following the game of brinkmanship between the FIA and the GPMA member teams earlier this year, all the teams agreed to enter Formula 1 from 2008 through 2011. Because the published regulations for those three seasons demanded the use of homologated engines, the reference engine having been deposited with the FIA before the British Grand Prix 2006, it is believed that all teams have already deposited engines with the FIA. Those are the engine specifications that would have been used if no further agreement had been reached.
Fortunately the engine manufacturers have seen sense. They had tried to get the FIA to allow a certain amount of development each season and since this obviously goes against the whole point of homologation (to pin costs and power levels), the FIA insisted that the manufacturers agreed to supply engines to the independent teams at a reasonable cost (that being about €5M per season - what the FIA estimate a supply of homologated engines will cost). There have been discussions over "fighting funds" and the supply of 'affordable' engines to independent teams before and they came to nothing with the indies having to sell up and the manufacturers pushing engine costs ever higher. Paul Stoddart was particularly vocal on just this subject when the manufacturers apparently whelched on promises he claimed they'd made. The only positive development since was when the FIA insisted on two-race engines, allowing Toyota to supply Jordan for the past two seasons. Now I'm not a fan of two-race engines, but I wonder what old specification Cosworth engine Jordan would have had to run, Minardi style, if that hadn't happened.
When time ran out on the GPMA member's prevarication over the supply of affordable engines, the FIA said enough is enough, engine homologation will happen from 2008. Knowing that a season and a half of expensive development before reverting to mid-2006-spec engines was madness, they have now agreed to bring the homologation period forward. It will now last at least two seasons, but will now run from the Chinese Grand Prix 2006 through to the end of the 2008 season or possibly longer. The interesting thing is that engines must have completed two race distances before they are lodged with the FIA. This is presumably to prevent manufacturers designing new components right upto the deadline and then asking for special dispensation to modify their engines during the homologation period when they prove unreliable.
Quite where this leaves Renault for example, I'm unsure. Fernando Alonso's engine blew up at Monza, meaning his engine will not have completed two race distances by the end of the Chinese Grand Prix. On the other hand, Monza was the second race for Giancarlo Fisichella's engine. I guess they'll have to submit Fisichella's engine and forego any further development. Honda had hoped to bring their '2007 spec' engine for Monza so that it would have completed two races by the end of the Chinese Grand Prix, but it was to no avail. Honda sensibly kept Button and Barrichello in the garage for Friday practice and sent out Little Ant with the new engine. After he blew up two of them they called it a day and fitted the old units to Button and Barrichello's cars for Saturday. Honda will have to homologate the more conservative 2006 spec engine those drivers ran in Monza (it was the first race for both their engines).
Interestingly if a manufacturer cannot provide an example of an engine that has completed two race distances at the end of the Chinese Grand Prix, they will have to use the spec engine that was lodged with the FIA at the British Grand Prix. Ouch.
Now onto which teams will run which engine for 2007 onwards, we know for certain the following: Ferrari, Renault, Honda, McLaren Mercedes, Toyota and BMW will run their own engines, obviously. We now know that Williams will run Toyota engines, although whether they will be known as Willams Toyota or by some other name we are not yet sure. Super Aguri, it is safe to assume, will still be supplied by Honda.
The rest is still up for discussion. Red Bull are currently in year one of a two-year deal to use Ferrari engines while we now know their sister team, Scuderia Toro Rosso, will not use Cosworth engines in 2007 (finally putting an end to the V10 controversy). Also we know that Renault will now supply the Red Bull organisation with engines for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. We are led to believe that the senior Red Bull team want to run the Renault engines in preference to the Ferrari units, having been disappointed with both the performance and reliability of the latter this season. However, their contract is tied to their team and while it would make a lot of sense to pass it down to Toro Rosso (and Italian team with an Italian driver) along with the RB02 chassis, Ferrari are apparently not keen on supplying the junior operation. For his lot, Red Bull's new Tecnical Director, Adrian Newey, is keen to get the engine supply settled ASAP so he can finalise the design of the RB03.
That leaves just the runt of the litter, Midland F1, to finalise a supply deal. When it became clear that Williams were going to get the Toyota engine supply for 2007 onwards it was assumed that Midland would hastily do a deal to run the Cosworths instead. Since then Midland has been sold to Dutch supercar manufacturer Spyker and although the Cosworth seems like the most likely engine solution, Spyker cheif exec Victor Muller has gone on record as saying he is considering a supply of Ferrari engines. Now Ferrari have supplied two customer teams before when they provided engines to both Sauber and Prost in 2001, and that was in the days of two engines per car, per meeting. Still, it remains to be seen if Ferrari want to do that again. With few development engines to make (about half of all engines made never end up in a car) they could look at it as a way to keep otherwise excess staff busy. Alternatively, Ferrari might look to do a deal to end the Red Bull contract altogether with Spyker F1 being the sole Ferrari customer team and Toro Rosso going back to Cosworth. I have to say that seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened.
Spyker to get involved in Formula 1
Spyker, the Dutch brand that has been producing Audi-powered exclusive sports cars since 2000 is reportedly working to buy the Midland Formula 1 team. The very small, dedicated automaker is famous for participating in various sporting events – the mo…
Sent on 22 09 06 - 00:31 , via Auto Parts Resources