Lotus keeping Mercedes option open for 2016

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Lotus CEO Matthew Carter says the team are still working on a possible Mercedes-engined 2016 car design as their Renault takeover deal has not yet been finalised.


Comment of the day

Formula E thrilled in Malaysia last weekend
Has Formula E hit the blend of competition between drivers and technologies F1 also strives for?

I enjoy the FE racing also. Renault leading the charge technologically but suffering more reliability problems only serves to add to the drama. Very glad this is not a single-spec series.

And quite honestly, there is no excuse that Sam Bird and Robin Frijns never started an F1 race. Without this series their open wheel careers would probably be over, but as we saw in Putrajaya, that would be a travesty. Antonio Felix da Costa too has been impressive.
Minardi (@Gitanes)

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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71 comments on “Lotus keeping Mercedes option open for 2016”

  1. Oh dear, cash strapped and developing 2 designs? Neither will be quick.

    1. Given that the team had Renault engines last year, I think they know pretty well how to do the install of all the cooling etc for both engines and its more a case of keeping some things open for as long as possible and/or preparing the basis to be able to take both solutions than having two significantly different cars prepared for next year.

    2. If that regulation that limits a manufacturer to supplying three other teams is true, and it probably is, then Mercedes will be limited to supplying Williams, Force India, and one of either Lotus or Manor. If Lotus do run with Mercedes engines, then maybe Manor might end up with Renault engines because I don’t think Renault will want to miss a year otherwise they will be a year behind everyone else in 2017.
      Honda have an option to supply one extra team, so they too might want to supply Manor as well.

      1. @drycrust The rules allows for a manufacturer to supply more teams with the permission of the FIA.

    3. It’s not as bad as you think; they’ll still have enough info from running the Renault units last year that they’ll be able to get within 95% of what it needs to be, as it were.

  2. So Red Bull was initially just an energy drinks manufacturer. Then they sponsor and market the hell out of extreme sports, and get involved in just about everything there is, to then go onto purchasing and becoming successful with an F1 team. Now they are about to develop their own power unit, which includes an ICE, and on top of that, an offering from Ferrari to go down that path and eventually have their own power unit development in house. What next, road cars? O.o

    And on the whole ‘costs’ issue. It’s stupid to want to restrict the opportunities to develop and push the boundaries of technology, it’s not what F1 is about. The real issue here is why are the manufacturers and teams not making the money they deserve!? If it was set up the way it should be, manufacturers would be bashing down the doors wanting to be involved with F1.

    1. What next, road cars? O.o

      Red Bull Road Car… drives itself back to the dealer and angrily complains on your behalf if the engine isn’t working as well as it should be.

    2. What’s wrong with expanding your operations? Elon Musk was initially just a website developer… Now he makes road cars AND runs a science program.

      I don’t get what you’re trying to say really? People should just do one thing their entire lives? People who have enough money to do with what they please, will do so… The rest of us can just look on in admiration/jealousy.

    3. Why not, there are lot of present companies that started out as something else. Samsung, Nokia(RIP) comes to my mind.

      1. Nokia still exists; all they sold off was their mobile phone division.

    4. Well, why not have Red Bull make cars, their energy drink model is hardly sustainable suffering lower reveunes in EU, and eventualy worldwide…

      I bet if they get Adrian Newey to design cars they’d be something they could sell for 100-200-500k € a piece. I am sure McLaren claims they have best chassis on the grid, but at least Red Bull are more plausible when they claim it.

      Imagine driving your very own RBR with 3.2l V6 turbo, crazy Aero, interlinked suspension,… oh my. Open a can of whopass their design team would bring… their wind tunells etc.

      And imagine it would be powered by a Ferrari sourced engine… Geez! :D

      1. I think that if Red Bull would get into building cars they would most likely do so for another company – like the Jaguar that is in Spectre (James Bond movie), developed and built by Williams for Jaguar @jureo, @ivz.

        Sure enough IF they really do go down the route of building a bespoke engine, then they will be able to offer a complete package for any interested parties. It fits in with the idea of RB Technology doing other projects to make use of the know-how (Newey, but also an ERS, their expert carbon laying as well as aerodynamics tools).

        Lets see if it actually happens. If it does, ironically that rights what Montezemelo mentioned about a fizzy drinks company not being the right thing to lead the way in F1, just in a different way (not turning away RBR, but transforming it, like what happened to others before them!)

        1. I thought it was an Aston Martin DB10 in Spectre – 007!

          1. Because the car chase only featured one car.

          2. Well all eyes were on Bond.

      2. There is a link here as the Thai billionaire that co owns Red Bull also owns Ferrari concessionaires in the Far East.

        I have been very strongly against Red Bulls conduct in this engine saga but if they build their own engine I think that would be the best solution. They proved they can build a great chassis and now they have a genuine reason to do something Williams and McLaren have never been capable of doing, winning with your own engine and chassis.

    5. “And on the whole ‘costs’ issue. It’s stupid to want to restrict the opportunities to develop and push the boundaries of technology, it’s not what F1 is about. The real issue here is why are the manufacturers and teams not making the money they deserve!? If it was set up the way it should be, manufacturers would be bashing down the doors wanting to be involved with F1.”

      I can’t agree more. The rules are wrong otherwise other manufacturers would join. It’s the pinnacle of motorsport and every manufacturer should aim to be there to promote their brand. Especially now since RBR is looking for a manufacturer. If I was a car manufacturer and thought I could produce an engine, who better to join up with than RBR. Success guaranteed! But there are no takers. That is the biggest statement of the rules these that has ever been.

      Right now Renault is staying (Hopefully) mostly because they feel “In for a penny, in for a pound” and it may be against better judgement or just based on a long term view. Honda is the same, but also saying “Heck this is harder than we thought. How do we get out of here without losing face”. Everyone else is saying “Hell no, No way we would join and look stupid”

      1. @mickharrold, the thing is, are manufacturers trying to break down the doors of other racing series either?

        Whilst people hold up the WEC, it hasn’t necessarily been entirely successful – in the past five years, whilst we saw the entry of Porsche, Toyota and Nissan (although the latter two were already present as engine suppliers before entering works teams), we also saw the departure of the Aston Martin-Lola semi factory team and the withdrawal of Peugeot, not to mention the bankruptcy of a major independent supplier (Lola Cars) and historic privateer teams like Pescarolo that has lead the LMP1 class, overall, to become smaller in recent years. Their efforts to try and lure BMW into the LMP1-L class also failed completely, with BMW bluntly rejected their offers as “not fitting with our advertising requirements” – so manufacturers are not beating down the door to a series that supposedly offers more open rules.

        Elsewhere, there doesn’t necessarily seem to be widespread enthusiasm for entering other racing series – IndyCar has, despite trying for several years, failed to entice any new entrants to their series, with Honda and Chevrolet, if anything, trying to scale back their involvement due to the losses they are making on engine sales.

        The DTM series have been trying to drum up interest in a US based partner series for several years, but none of the US based manufacturers they’ve approached have shown any interest in the series and talks seem to have stalled. Over in Asia, the Super GT series, over in Japan, has agreed to a merger with DTM in order to cut costs, because there were concerns that rising development costs might begin to eat into their customer base in Japan. Perhaps it is just me, but the only series where manufacturer involvement seems to have grown are GT3 based series, such as the Blancpain Series.

    6. It’s funny how people call for no cost saving at all because it hinders free development. Like free development is what they want.

      Mercedes did some free development and came up with a winner. Now people are scrambling to come up with ideas to stop them from dominating.

      Or how about the small teams. They don’t have the 400 to 500million budget that Red Bull has available. Plus STR. No cost saving will make it even more impossible for them to compete. But then of course calling the EU to help them maybe to a few million extra is going to get rid of all that.

      If only people would just think instead of rant.

  3. One is left to wonder at the gross negligence and indifference of the FIA in its stewardship of F1 for which it charges teams $$$millions annually.
    The “either you all agree to a totally unenforceable cost cap or we will shrug our shoulders and ignore you” attitude suggests either gross stupidity or willful laziness. It is quite obvious that giant companies like Daimler Benz, Fiat-Chrysler, Honda etc. with all their technical staff and facilities will achieve much greater results from an Xmillion dollar budget than any small independent team would be able to achieve and the only way to ensure that small teams were not steamrolled by the larger teams is to ensure that they can get like for like value from the money they do spend, and one way to ensure this, is to rule that any team can purchase any engine at the price anticipated by a budget cap, that way a manufacturer can spend what it likes or get greater value from in-house crossover technology, but a smaller team can buy that engine technology at a budget-cap price and remain close to competitive, the engine manufacturer profits from its technological research, has part of its manufacturing costs amortized and still gets kudos and PR value when its engine is seen to be the best no matter whether its in-house team or a customer team wins.

    1. I think its at least partly an effect of giving away primacy on deciding the rules to the teams and to Bernie @hohum. It makes Todt more or less powerless to do things on his own.

      Sure enough many of us were surprised that the FIA had not tied an engine price cap into the rules from the go, that would have made huge sense, and would have put a cap on them at about the same level as what is now proposed. And Manufacturers would have had clear numbers to decide upon how much to invest (or not).

      I must say that I find it cringeworthy how the Bernie/Todt/Red Bull camp keep saying how a “cheap” alternative engine helps the smaller/poorer teams, when none of them is likely to be interested (because it will be underdeveloped), unless that engine is going to be the better option, in which case Mercedes and Ferrari (and Honda?) will either build their own, better version or leave the sport in anger. Resulting in the whole now a standard engine with even less variance and development than we have now.

      But it will help Red Bull get back on top as the king of (almost completely irrelevant) aero development, as they can once again chase that will all the budget available.

      1. It is ridiculous.

        We have seen in the past that multiple engine configurations get whittled down to one pretty quickly. The teams will start down their own development path. If it is not as successful as another design, they will change to the successful one.

        So, let’s say they brought in this engine. It will be much cheaper to make and buy. It will not perform the same as the current engines. Its is likely that it will perform better in some circumstances and worse in others. If teams find it’s better overall, everyone will move to that formula, and if teams find it’s worse overall, only teams with very low budgets will bother.

        In addition, this would push the cost of the current engines up, as there would be fewer customers. They are already being provided at a subsidised rate, particularly when you consider the R&D.

        All in all, it’s a ridiculous idea.

  4. LOL so Lotus have 2 engines, Red Bull have zero. Can’t wait to see how many drivers Sauber have :P

    1. Haha! :-))

  5. It already seems like Lotus has been announcing this Renault deal for almost as long as they spent announcing the Quantum Motorsport deal.

    1. I honestly hope they pull the rug out from under Renault, and Red Bull goes with the Ferrari option.

      That would shut Renault up pretty quick and make them realise they can’t keep making these shockingly horrible engines any more.

      I don’t know why everyone’s so quick to side against Red Bull, I’d be furious too, to be frank.

      1. edit: I honestly hope Lotus pulls the rug out from under Renault and goes with Mercedes, and Red Bull goes with the Ferrari option too.

      2. That would shut Renault up pretty quick and make them realise they can’t keep making these shockingly horrible engines any more.

        You might want to take a look at Renault’s results in F1 and take their 40 years involvement in the sport into consideration before making such a statement.

        1. @ martin….obviously what they did in the past has absolutely zip to do with the present. renault have trashed renault by building rubbish engines. they acknowledged this themselves. ‘we have lots of tokens but no ideas’ says it all really. standing tall with renault is a hopeless pursuit.

          1. @kenneth, Renault have already utilised their tokens on the D-spec engine which was supposed to have been introduced several races ago. It is Red Bull that have chosen, so far, to reject the new engine because they do not want any grid penalties.

      3. You are right when you say you would be furious, anyone would.
        But would you publicly shame your partner for that?

        People are siding against red Bull not because they think Red Bull are inaccurate in their comments to the press. They are siding against Red Bull because Red Bull are making these comments to the press directly.

      4. @ tristan…my thoughts exactly.

  6. And quite honestly, there is no excuse that Sam Bird and Robin Frijns never started an F1 race.

    Bird’s junior formula record is not that impressive. I definitely agree about Frijns though.

    1. @kingshark, the thing is, Frijns was offered an opportunity to join Red Bull’s Young Driver program, but instead chose to publicly lash out at them in such a way that he basically alienated most of the other teams on the F1 grid in the process.

      1. I find it funny that people mention its wrong manufacturer teams like Ferrari and Mercedes have a stranglehold on F1 due to its drivers but then you argue in favour of RBR tying down the options of an up and coming race driver to decide his own fate Anon.

        Frijns did not “lash out at them”, he just said that he does not think signing away all his rights for a chance to maybe get into F1 with them was the right thing to do for him. I do agree that it might have cost him a race seat. But then again, there are many others who did sign up with Marko but never came closer than the odd F1 test.

        1. @bascb Frijns said “they treat you like a dog” and he probably didn’t mean it in the ‘they tickle your tummy and give you treats’ sense.

          That said, I’m not sure I’d fancy working for Helmut Marko either. I wonder what Jaime Alguersuari would make of Frijns’ remarks?

          1. True enough, he was certainly saying it in a way that made clear he was not interested @keithcollantine! Given how much Marko seems to motivate everyone around him by critisizing them, I am certain i would not ever want to work with or even less for him. Almost regardless of the rewards offered.

          2. @keithcollantine,@bascb, He sounds like a perfect fit for the RBR culture.

          3. Frijns or Marko? @hohum :-)

          4. @kingshark @bascb @hohum Revealing remark by Marco Schupbach on Frijns’ test at Sauber:


    2. @kingshark In terms of Sam Bird, it is never as simple as a set of results. Bird often found himself racing against immensely talented grids, whilst by contrast drivers like Marcus Ericsson, Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Nasr were often able to take advantage of a lack of rival talent. Also, during his FR3.5 and GP2 campaigns he was only beaten by drivers with markedly more experience. That aside, a number of thoroughly impressive tests for Mercedes confirmed that he would have made an excellent F1 driver.

      But don’t feel sorry for Bird, he will be in a factory LMP1 car before long.

      1. Yep. Always did enjoy see Bird race in GP2.

  7. Hmmm,maybe no team will be running Renault engines next year ;)

  8. I like how much you love your own Tweets.

    Anyway, there’s a good amount of scandals behind closed doors in F1 too…

    1. @jeff1s Hey, someone’s got to :-) Although note I haven’t actually ‘liked’ it so there’s room for me to increase me self-promotion.

      1. Nice sense of humour!

        I take this opportunity to tell you how much I like this website (articles and comments), it’s my everyday breakfast read for years, quality is high and over quantity. All this deserves a supporting hand. I’m now an F1 Fanatic supporter.

        1. @jeff1s That’s great thanks very much – and sorry for the delay in replying.

    2. @keithcollantine If F1’s support for repressive governments isn’t enough of a scandal, let’s have a look at Bernie’s finances shall we? You’re right that we are down on race fixing and doping, though!

      1. @mclarennyc F1 had race fixing back in 2008, before it was popular!

  9. What Marchionne really says: “Design an engine and we will help you produce it, even provide you with components. If your engine is worse than ours, no problem. If it’s better, we can just copy your engine, again no problema, grazie.”

    Quite clever, but I wouldn’t expect less from di Montezemolo’s successor.

    1. @afonic It’s pretty transparent, isn’t it? Not exactly a Machiavellian masterstroke of strategy.

  10. What would justify the engine cost cap most easily? The loss of a team like Red Bull. How strange therefore, that Ferrari is now more comfortable with the idea of supplying Red Bull.

    1. But if you look at that proposal @william-brierty, it comes down to Ferrari saying “come up with the ideas, do the Research and we will help you develop it and then build that engine, at your cost off course“.

      The risks and cost would still be with Red Bull. But surely Ferrari would take any good ideas to apply them for themselves as well! nice proposal that will defenitely not raise cost.

      But yeah, off course it is a move in the how much for an engine supply game the manufacturers are currently playing with Bernie and Jean.

  11. i disagree that a gp2 champion automatically deserves a chance in F1. There is so much talent out there in different classes and so much talent still in f1 that can still go on for years, that you should have that little bit of extra. I can imagine it’s frustrating that drivers with a lot of cash can drive in lesser teams, but that has always been the case. And the times are gone that a guy starts racing in the back of the field and works his way up to the best teams. Every team has a development program. They get people when they are still young. And I haven’t seen anything from Palmer in the gp2 that made me think he really should be in F1. Vandoorne on the other hand.

  12. Capgate – bah, the unfair advantage Russian athletes were given is nothing compared to what Ferrari are given. Fifa has nothing on Max and Bernie stealing the entire sport and fining someone $100m because they don’t like him. It’s just that in F1 it’s routine, and Bernie controls the accreditation.

    1. Max and Bernie stealing the entire sport and fining someone $100m because they don’t like him

      What the proverbial are you talking about?

    2. @lockup I’m sure the Russians would happily pay $100m if it meant that they avoided a ban and their doped athletes could still compete. And their ‘business’s’ survival isn’t even reliant on competing.

      1. True @asanator tho if we’re going to take the analogy literally we ought to scale it up for Russia doncha think? That would be, let’s say, 50% of gdp, which makes $1trillion. Then if we believe the “95% for being a []” story they get fined $950bn for unpopularity. I don’t think they’d pay that happily.

        Anyway I know the cap scandal tweet was a joke :) It just made me think how stuff that would be a scandal in other sports is business as usual in F1.

  13. Regarding Lotus’ takeover by Renault I’m starting to develop scepticism similar to MazdaChris’.

  14. Engines should be gradually equalised…

    But differing engines provide for exciting racing… Exibit A FIA WEC race in silverstone… Close Audi Porsche race, where Porsche would overtake on every straight and loose it in the corners…

    Imagine if tech would be properly weighted, so 2.2l turbos give say 1000hp, but extra weight of extra fuel makes them slower in corners and under braking? But again potentialy weight saving at same time with simple kers or no kers at all…

    Can you imagine the racing? That would steem from inequality on different parts of the track…

    How to balance you ask? Simple after qualifying calculate what power would be needed for top 2.2 team to be on P1… And give all 2.2 teams that boost. Boom and instantly we have cracking race.

    Naturally it should at each race be fine tunned so 2.2 do not win championships, but some races sure, if track layout suits them great… All manofacturer backed teams will want to win championships… While indy teams just want to fight for wins and and podiums.

    Give them artificially unfairly better engine to take on the better funded teams few times per year…

    And remember how fun this year would be if say in Austin RBR was given extra 100hp to compete or imagine Manor with extra 400hp… Surtenly that would get them ahead… If nothing else comentarors would admire top speeds… And in slow stuff “faster teams” would have to get ahead…

    1. I think you need to go over all that again and realise just how unbalanced it is.

    2. To get some insight into how F1 fans feel about artificial racing just look up any comments on DRS, Pirelli tyres or the Abu Double.

      1. To get some insight into how F1 fans feel about races with no overtaking at all just look up any comments on just about any of the F1 races from 1996 till 2009.

        1. There was no race during that time that featured no overtaking & at least the overtaking we did see during that time was actually exciting to watch & memorable rather than the utterly boring & stupidly easy highway passing crap we get with the drs & pirelli tyres.

          i’d much rather fewer real overtakes than more artificially/gimmicky generated highway passes and the fact f1 has been losing viewers since drs/pirelli entered in 2011 (including in country’s with unchanged tv models) shows most fans feel the same as do the recent fan surveys which showed the majority dislike drs and want proper tyres to be brought back!

          1. i was open about drs and pirelli back in 2010/2011, i was neither for or against because i wanted to see how they worked before making a judgement.

            i must admit however that i’ve been growing increasingly irritated with the affect both have had on the racing & this irritation has led me to stop watching f1 as religiously as i once did because i just don’t care for what passes as racing nowadays.

            watching the drivers having to take it as easy as they do to not degrade the tyres and knowing there lapping a few seconds off the ultimate pace just isn’t really that fun to watch. its not like before when drivers were pushing close to the limits, you always get the sense since 2011 that the drivers are not been challenged as they were when they had tyres they could push hard over a stint/race & that to me has taken away a chunk of what i enjoy about the sport and something many other categories still have.

            as to the drs, when you see a driver pull offline to defend the inside of a corner and the driver behind pushes his drs button and just drives clear past with ease it just looks dumb to me, the car ahead may as well have just moved aside & waved him past as thats exactly what it looks like.
            it just doesnt add anything to the racing because the sort of ‘racing’ the drs produces is of such low quality because its so easy a lot of the time thats its just no fun to watch.

            i think with the drs and the tyres you just don’t get the sense that an overtake was done by pure skill anymore because at times drs makes it too easy and performance variables between compounds & tyre wear can also make things easy.
            if you go back to the pre drs and pirelli days an overtake really meant something because you knew it had been done thanks to the skill of the drivers and you had drivers like lewis hamilton, juan montoya & kamui kobayashi who were amazing at overtaking and this drew fans to them… nowadays when you have button push overtaking & everyone lapping well off the pace to save the tyres there is nothing to make any driver’s skill stand out to the same level anymore.
            there are no hero’s who stand out because of amazing overtaking skills, amazing defensive drives or amazing racecraft because everyone can push a button to overtake in the fia approved overtaking zones & with drivers lapping so far off the pace saving the tyres you no longer see car or driver pushed to there limits as we did before.

            these cars are amazing bits of kits as are these new power units that are producing awesome levels of performance and when at full power do challenge the drivers with all the torque & power there capable of. but sadly there is so much tyre management going on nowadays & on some circuits also fuel savings that we no longer get to see this awesome performance & this is doing a lot of damage to f1.

        2. Ooh good straw man.

          People also hate standing on Lego bricks.

  15. Incredible points. Outstanding arguments. Keep upp the great work.

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