SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium — Formula One could delay proposed changes to its engine regulations until after 2021 if new manufacturers do not show an interest in joining the series.
Earlier this year, F1 proposed changes that would keep the basic V6 engines that exist today but remove the complicated MGU-H from the hybrid system. The plan also permitted an increase in the fuel allowance to help the engines rev higher and sound better, while an upgraded MGU-K was tabled to ensure they remained both powerful and road relevant.
The removal of the MGU-H proved a major sticking point for existing manufacturers Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault on the grounds that it result in a dumbing down of the sport while also bringing about a significant increase in costs to develop a new power unit.
F1’s main motivation for removing the MGU-H was to lower the barrier to entry for new manufacturers, but despite initial interest from Porsche it now appears that no new manufacturers are willing to commit.
A version of the of 2021 engine regulations was scheduled to be released at the end of June, but the deadline passed without an agreement on the details. With no firm commitments from new manufacturers on the table for 2021, F1’s motorsport director Ross Brawn is now considering delaying an overhaul of the engine rules for a later date.
“We want to try and create a set of technical regulations on the engine, which are appealing to new manufacturers coming in as well as consolidate our existing engine suppliers,” he said in an interview published in the Belgian Grand Prix race programme. “And I think we just need to think of our timing on that, whether 2021 is the right time to do that, or whether it’s better to keep that powder dry until we can be certain that a major regulation change will bring fresh blood into the sport.
“My feeling is that there’s still quite a lot we can do on the engine side in terms of sporting regulations such as limits on dyno test time, number of upgrades during a season, consistency of specification to all customer teams etc. On the engine, we need to decide if now is the time to have a revolution or an evolution.”
Brawn said the main goal of changing the engine regulations would be to give new manufacturers a fresh start while also making the engine less of a differentiator in performance than it is now.
“What I’m mostly concerned about is the capacity for a new supplier to come in. We have four great manufacturers in Formula One and we don’t want to lose them. But equally, we don’t want a situation where the technical regulations make the challenge of a Formula One engine so great that only if you’ve been doing it for seven years can you hope to compete.
“A reset in the technical regulations provides an opportunity for someone who is new and has the opportunity to perhaps at least start in a better place, instead of trying to complete with someone who has been pursuing this and these objectives for a long time. Also, we don’t want the engine to be the major differentiator. The first differentiator should be the driver, the second should be the car and the third should be the engine.”