Ferrari “not interested” in beating Mercedes as engine supplier

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne says winning in F1 as an engine supplier to a team, such as Red Bull, doesn’t interest him.


Comment of the day

Wolff retired from motorsport after her F1 practice runs
Did Susie Wolff and Carmen Jorda do anything to inspire future female racing drivers?

I’m happy for Wolff that she has got three years of experience at Williams, and from what I can work out she will continue work on inspiring women to work in motorsports, which is fantastic. On the other hand I am glad that Jorda is out. I was really worried that the reason I didn’t take Jorda seriously was purely due to gender, but thankfully there are counterexamples like Wolff and Adderly Fong who prove that being taken seriously doesn’t have anything to do with gender. I really wonder, in terms of being an ‘inspiration for young girls’, whether her presence has done more harm than good.

Anyway, what’s next for women in F1? Well, there are not many in the junior ranks. Off the top of my head, there are Beitske Visser, Samin Gomez, Tatiana Calderon and a couple in F4, but all of them aren’t really setting the world alight at the moment. I know there’s a Spanish girl in karting who is doing pretty well, but that’s about it. So it’s not looking very bright for the next few years. In my opinion, the problem is still that few girls (or more accurately, their parents) choose to participate in karting events, which is just really hard to change.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Alvink and Bryce Metzger!

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On this day in F1

Patrick Head, who designed some of the most successful Williams racing cars of the eighties and nineties, stepped down from the team four years ago today.

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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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44 comments on “Ferrari “not interested” in beating Mercedes as engine supplier”

  1. RaceProUK (@)
    31st December 2015, 0:21

    I was going to say Ferrari’s statement sounds odd, but thinking more about it, I can believe them not wanting to beat Mercedes as an engine supplier; for Ferrari, all that matters is that the Scuderia itself wins.

    1. We have the tendency to overlook what F1 teams say. Ferrari are always “in your face” they say what everyone does not, other teams are subservient yet, there’s the hope that other teams are genuinely humble.

      1. @peartree Well, humble is the last adjective I would put beside Ferrai name, but yes, they don’t try that much to hide their intentions even if that pictures them as the “villains” of F1.

    2. I can understand that reasoning and it seems perfectly sensible. Supply of engines even if not the very latest spec with software to small teams who have no chance of building there own is fair enough but to a team that has the best aero in F1 and the money to build an engine themselves but want to take advantage of a rivals technolgy some how seems a little off to me.

  2. “Equality”, The last thing I want to hear when talking about F1.

    If one team builds a better car or builds a better engines or whatever there should NEVER be performance adjustments to create better equality, The others should instead be allowed to make improvements to whatever there weakness is & catch upto the benchmark team/manufacturer/driver without any help from the FIA/FOM.

    I understand that a team doing a better job & dominating is frustrating to watch & is always followed by whining about how boring it all is etc…. But thats just a part of the sport & something that will always be a part of the sport, Especially in F1 where everyone designs there own cars & manufacturer’s build there own engines with all the performance differences those things involve.

    Unless you want to turn F1 into a spec series or go super gimmicky with success penalty’s you will always have the potential for dominance & I don’t mean to be harsh or come across as been elitist or anything when I say this but anyone who see’s this as boring or unacceptable in some way should perhaps consider the possibility that F1 isn’t really for them & look at the dozens of other categories that run spec equipment or use methods to equalize performance?

    1. Agreed. F1 is about winning by design, constructing, teamwork and driving better than your opponents. It should not be about punishing those who have done the best job. Regulations should allow for teams to do better through innovation, not by rewarding substandard performance. Sometimes there are dominant teams, but that will not last. History shows that to be true.

    2. There is room for equality in F1, namely in the distribution of money. There is always going to be one team out front, and they shouldn’t be punished for doing a better job than everyone else, but it would be nice for some of the less well-funded teams to have even a remote chance of getting near the front. Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren are spending hundreds of millions of euros per year, just to put two cars on around twenty race tracks for a couple of hours every other afternoon. It’s madness.

    3. I agree we dont need equality nor unification. Every team has to come up with their own solutions. So we need different kind of PUs, chassis, aero etc. As a result differences can easily increase especially after a big change in the technical regulation and finally we see boring races where the teams ahead run their own races without battle.
      If we want to see close and exciting races among the best teams we need less differences among cars (but not equality). Nowadays in F1 we use big changes in techincal regulations every 3-5 years and as a result we see dominants and high costs. For the last year (before new big changes in technical regulations) differences and costs decrease as teams reach the limit in performance that regulations allow. But from 2014 season, teams have to use ‘token system’ to decrease costs. I think it is a bad system. First of all these PUs were in 2014 absolutely new and immature. Secondly Mercedes did a much better job than others so differences were too large and in this system teams couldnt use their development as fast as they could have used without token system. So engine manufacturers spent a lot – money and time – to develop their PUs but they couldnt use every development because of token system and as a result differences didnt decrease as fast as they could have been without token system. So I think the token system was (is) a mistake and we should abolish it in order to decrease differences faster.
      I think +weight/point system would be a good compromise. It would be cheaper, faster and more effective solution to decrease differences than token system. We could use less techincal regulations and more freedom in development (of course costs would be higher) or we should use slight changes in technical regulations. And in this system finally win the best but the best have to work harder to remain the best.

      1. I think +weight/point system would be a good compromise. It would be cheaper, faster and more effective solution to decrease differences than token system.

        After a lot of thought I think you have a point, although maybe it isn’t the point you were probably making. The token system is there to keep costs under control. Yes, it does slow down the speed of catching up, but it also slows down the speed of keeping ahead, which is why it is used. There are 32 tokens available for the 2016 season, 66 tokens being the amount needed to completely rebuild the entire engine, so at least half the engine is a carry over of the 2015 season’s engine.
        The question I got from your argument is this: Is the rate of technological development now so fast that when there is an equal allocation of improvement tokens, then the winning engine for a season will also be ahead at the end of the subsequent season simply because the other engines can never catch up?” As far as I know, that isn’t the case. While I am expecting there to be an improvement in the Mercedes engine, I am expecting a bigger improvement in Ferrari, Renault-Illmore, and McLaren-Honda.
        If, on the other hand, Mercedes are even more “out in front” than they were at the start of the 2015 season, then it will be apparent that the equal allocation of tokens system isn’t working.

        1. I say without token system manufacturers could faster catch up Mercedes because they could develop and copy faster and if they had a new idea they could use it immediately. Of course it would be more expensive but differences could decrease faster. I think manufacturers spend a lot – money and time – nowadays as well but they cant use their developments immediately because they have not enough token or they are thinking about a better idea and it is why they dont want to use tokens. Or if a manufacturer have a structural problem (like Honda nowadays) it needs much more time to develop. So I think without token system is would be a bit more expensive but differences could decrease much more faster.

  3. Redbull got a lot of enemy…

    1. When it comes to chassis design and innovation, there isn’t a team that is better. So we can all understand why the manufacturer teams would be hesitant t provide them with a championship winning engine.

      I think next year will be a difficult one for Red Bull, with Mercedes and Ferrari leading the pack. I think Renault would give their factory team the 1st benefit of any upgrades, and Red Bull, due to a superior chassis would be competing with Renault for maybe the 4th or 5th best team.

      1. They aren’t better. They spend more than other in their chassis. They have the budget other teams have along with building engines and they pretend is because they do better work. Not to mention how suspicious the whole Torro Rosso situation is.

  4. On the other hand I am glad that Jorda is out.

    Is she? I remember she said a few weeks ago that she’s excited about her future, so I’d guess she’ll have a similar role next year.

    1. @hunosci I’m not sure, there was an instagram post where she said it was her last day in the simulator, which you can interpret as her being let go by Lotus. Maybe she’ll go to Manor then, but to be honest I can’t think of another team that’s that desperate for some money.

      1. Could simply be the last time this year she’s in the sim.

  5. Karthik Mohan
    31st December 2015, 4:06

    The misleading headline of that autosport article on McLaren copying Ferrari gave me a heart-attack… What with Alonso being back at McLaren and all… :D

  6. I know Jenson had inspiring intentions when he mentioned that Mclaren should pull a Ferrari and find around a 100hp over the winter. But it also goes to show how low the expectations are from Mclaren Honda are at the moment.

    Honestly, they need to pull one out of the bag. Something far more spectacular in terms of development than even what Ferrari managed over the 2014 winter. Making Ferraris level of progress over the 2015 winter will probably just place them as the 5th or 6th quickest team on the grid, and that is far away from the podiums and wins target that their PR machine has been churning out for the past few weeks.

    Maybe Jenson is just being realistic, but the sad truth is that even 100hp might just put them level with the 2015 Ferrari engine.

    1. @todfod
      I agree. Ferrari were upper midfield in 2014. They weren’t backmarkers like McHonda last year.

  7. Any top team has to have their own engine these days. It’s elementary really. The days of DFV’s for all are long gone, now that manufacturers have realised their brands need a team in their name, with Mercedes’ marketing figures and now Marchionne laying it out. Honda will go that way too eventually surely, and McLaren too.

    I wonder what the manufacturers are going to come up with next month? They might offer a price cut, but they’re not going to equip Red Bull to beat them are they? Maybe agree to share subcontractors more.

    1. They might offer a price cut, but they’re not going to equip Red Bull to beat them are they? Maybe agree to share subcontractors more.

      They could leverage other brands in the same company. Ferrari could leverage Maserati and Mercedes could leverage Aston Martin.

      If Mercedes feels that Ferrari have caught up and are a serious threat to the title, it makes sense for them to re brand one engine and give it to an independent constructor that can keep Ferrari at bay. Mercedes shouldn’t mind too much if Aston Martin is their closest competitor, and from a corporate branding point of view it adds more value to have 2 brands from the same umbrella competing against each other rather than a Mercedes vs Mercedes.

      The problem with Red Bull is that they are so good at what they do, that the manufacturers cannot take that risk. Honestly, if Red Bull manage to rope in Audi or BMW. That would be their best shot at winning the title again

      1. The problem with Red Bull is that they are so good at what they do, that the manufacturers cannot take that risk. Honestly, if Red Bull manage to rope in Audi or BMW. That would be their best shot at winning the title again

        Yes I think so. Also as Marchionne says RBR have more money to spend if they don’t have to develop a PU. But Red Bull have earned themselves a reputation as a poor partner for joint brand-building. I don’t see Audi or BMW becoming an engine supplier. They have the examples of Merc, Ferrari and Renault saying “own your own branded team” and Honda showing why being an engine supplier is a losing proposition too.

      2. Although not legal as F1 is aero centric in it’s history over the past 30 years Ferrari giving Red Bull an engine is a risk as much as Red Bull lending their aero department to Ferrari to design their chassis. It is the same thing. In the interest of competition Red Bull should have loaned Newey and others to Ferrari for the 2012 car so they can be equal on EBD. That would have been ridiculous. A team Red Bulls size should build their own engines and with a growing roadcar business I am surprised McLaren do not do this.

        1. I’m still not convinced that Red Bull would be the threat many assume they would be with a customer as opposed to works engine, with today’s format of complexity, in spite of their design prowess, but of course I could be wrong and obviously Merc and Ferrari have already expressed that concern.

          Red Bull had a works arrangement with Renault but that fell apart. I also agree with what SM is saying…RBR saves money by not developing a PU so why hand them a relatively cheap way back to the top by supplying them very expensive technology at ‘customer pricing?’ That said I would have thought RBR was supplying lots of money to Renault when their relationship was more healthy. When it no longer became possible to just slap Renault’s engine into their chassis and call that a great car RBR faltered.

          Merc, Ferrari, and hopefully McHonda soon too are showing why Brawn had said, ahead of LH signing with Merc, as a driver you want to now be with a manufacturer based team.

          RBR’s only real solution, and they know it, is to set up a works relationship asap. Or hope F1 backs down from the complex level it is now at and it starts to become possible again to win races with a customer PU. But then, who’s PU? RBR has only themselves to blame as they had ample time as did all teams of seeing what was on the horizon going back a handful of years. Let’s not forget they held back on developing for the new chapter to ensure SV a 4th WDC, so now they are paying for that, and many teams would have taken the WDC too and hoped for the best afterwards. I have no sympathy for RBR who put themselves in this situation to begin with. Sure the new chapter has made life more difficult, but as we know, they knew that all along. Beating them was difficult not that long ago. They’re caught out and only they are responsible to pull themselves out of the hole with a proper works relationship and expenditure of money that takes.

      3. Or Lamborghini, because that’s what’s actually happening.

        Yes, VW, I know.

  8. And Happy New Year to all you F1 Fanatics and @keithcollantine for such a wonderful place for us F1 lovers. Keep it moderate with the drinking lads and lass :)
    “…tonight we’ll drink the old town dry
    keep our spirit levels high..”

  9. Congratulations to John Surtees on gaining his CBE. My only disappointment is that it is not a knighthood, the man is a living legend!

  10. TheF1Engineer (@)
    31st December 2015, 12:27

    Ferrari are completely right in their standpoint. Support them whole-heartedly in that.

    What F1 needs is an independent engine. The fundamental mistake Todt made when taking over from Mosley was NOT going to an independent engine supplier (ie: a Cosworth) and asking them to draft some regulations on which they could do a hybrid engine on a commercial basis. You’d have gone to companies like SPARK aswell.

    So what we have now is essentially the FIA/FOM trying to do that exact same thing, rather than the 4-5 years ago when it should have been done, and this whole situation would have been avoided.

    A works team is never going to supply a customer team with it’s works-spec engine, so even if Todt does get the costs down to 12 million, Red Bull still aren’t going to be happy. And let’s not forget, Honda are looking at what Renault have decided in going to a full works team, so it’s not too much of a leap considering they both make a similar range of road cars, that Honda may go full works in the near future aswell, leaving McLaren up the swanny too. Not to mention the indy engine is a powerful political and negotiating tool for Bernie and Jean.

    1. @goonerf1, there is a flaw in your argument – Cosworth did in fact develop a power unit that was compatible with the current regulation package, which they revealed nearly two years ago (in January 2014).

      The problem that Cosworth found, and it is an issue that any independent engine manufacturer will find, is that none of the teams wanted to buy their engines in the first place. With no money coming in from customers and with Cosworth being effectively bankrupt (they’ve been running at a loss for a few years now), they couldn’t build a prototype.

      Irrespective of how the regulations were written, it is no good if nobody wants to buy an engine from an independent supplier in the first place. After all, during the V10 and V8 eras, most of the independent engine manufacturers were marginalised or disappeared altogether (outfits like Hart and Asiatech disappeared well over a decade ago), and it is a trend that is not confined to F1 either – just look at the WEC, where the regulations have been written in such a way as to bar independent engine manufacturers from offering a hybrid system to privateer entrants (any LMP1 car that uses a hybrid system has to race in the manufacturers class).

      1. TheF1Engineer (@)
        31st December 2015, 17:55

        Where’s the flaw sorry?

        Red Bull will pay for an independent power unit, plus more than likely heavily resource the development aswell. They’re never going to get anywhere with a works team, that’s completely apparent. And they want to win. So it’s their only choice. If they fire up the Cosworth ICE and put their own “K” on it (which you can do retrospectively), it’s just a simple tinker to the rulebook, which is being discussed atm, and you’re sorted.

        Yes the ICE existed. I’ve never seen any details for the ERS system. And you certainly can’t integrate the “H” retrospectively. Or at the very least it would be extremely difficult.

        Please post a link proving me wrong if I am wrong. It has been known :). I’m not above putting my hand up :).

        1. I think, in order for an independent engine supplier to be viable, you need more than one team using the engines; I’d say three is a good number of teams to have.

          1. Customer engine should be used by all the small teams and leave the manufacturer teams to it. With all the small teams combined I am sure the independent engine would have as much budget as any of the manufacturer teams especially if you include RedBull in that group as they can build their own engine all on their own if they really wanted to or had to.

        2. @goonerf1, with regards to the ERS, the reason why you wouldn’t have heard about Cosworth developing that component was because Cosworth didn’t intend to develop that component in house. They were actually looking to sub-contract development of the ERS out to Zytek, the same organisation that has been developing energy recovery systems for Mercedes.

          Cosworth’s design is fully in compliance with the post 2014 regulation package, and moreover it was a complete design in terms of having both the MGU-K and MGU-H components fully designed. What they did not have, however, were any customers – Caterham ditched them long ago, HRT had ceased to exist and Marussia were looking towards Ferrari as a consequence of Bianchi’s presence within the team.

          RaceProUK is right with his guess on the minimum number of customers Cosworth reckoned they’d need – at least three – in order for it to be commercially viable, with at least one of those teams needing to be a midfield team which could commit the necessary technical resources to help guide development of their engine (which is why, under the V8 formula, Cosworth looked towards Williams when they adopted their engines, even though they’d been working for longer with Marussia).

          However, asides from a declining number of small teams, a lot of those smaller teams have commercial arrangements with the manufacturer teams for other components and for technical partnerships – Force India have developed links with Mercedes, whilst Sauber have a long standing partnership with Ferrari – and are therefore in a position where it makes more sense to work with a manufacturer rather than an independent engine supplier.

          You can have all the independent engine manufacturers you want but, if teams believe that they can’t offer a competitive engine, then they won’t want to work with them.

          1. What Bernie secretly wants is Pirelli to be F1’s sole engine supplier. While enriching Bernie in ways we can’t possibly imagine, a Pirelli powerplant would be easier on the tyres because they know what they’re dealing with.

            A loud, low torque, 25,000 rpm 500hp engine that can only be pushed to the limit for a few laps is just what F1 needs to make Pirelli tyres the pinnacle of motosport rubbery.

            Isn’t that what F1 truly requires?


    2. @goonerf1 Personally I’d be surprised if Honda went full works with a chassis and everything else. They have their full works setup by being exclusive with Mac and I don’t see that changing. Sure they may end up supplying a lesser team with a PU that is a notch below works level at some point, but as I say I really don’t get the feel that they want to spend the astronomical sums it would take to do a full Honda team and evolve that into something competitive over a number of years. Mac has the infrastructure in place so I envision Honda seeing this as a great marriage with probably more potential than if they were to start their own team and go through all those growIng pains all over again on a wing and a prayer that the billion dollar tab over several years would pay dividends. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

      1. TheF1Engineer (@)
        31st December 2015, 17:25

        Would you have said the same thing about Renault and Red Bull 2-3 years ago?

        And that’s really my point. However unlikely something may be in the future in your own personal eyes, or how you may feel about something or envision it, that does no-one absolutely no good whatsoever if you come to be wrong.

        F1 has to start looking at these things and thinking, “what’s the worst case scenario?,” no matter how unlikely it may seem. You have to foresee these things, and then mitigate against them. This is where F1 regulation is notoriously bad. It’s so fixed and static, when really it needs to be dynamic and adaptable.

        I mean you may be right, Honda may not go full works, and then there is no problem, but what if they do? Or what if they pull out altogether? What’s plan B? Is there even a plan B? Take a B-spec engine and make-do? That’s not in the McLaren philosophy. They want to win. They’d be in the exact same situation Red Bull are in now and F1 would have learned nothing.

        Whichever way you analyse it, F1 needs an independent engine, and then the whole sport has an insurance policy.

        1. I’ll assume Mac and Honda have a contract that gives them a reasonable amount of time to gel and get competitive and theoretically have a good run at wins and WDCs and they know that usually doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a new marriage whereas RBR and Renault had history that included the transition to the new chapter which has not worked out…so…different scenario including a big falling out in performance. McHonda have only just begun.

          Haven’t put much thought into an independent ICE but as an initial comment I would say that would be akin to a non-works setup in which case if an RBR or a Mac finds themselves caught out needing a unit they might as well take the offered notch-down Merc or Ferrari unit until they get a works deal going for themselves..they won’t likely win the Championships with a ‘generic’ stopgap FIA offering anyway.

          This wouldn’t be an issue if RBR hadn’t slagged off Renault and even that hasn’t ended their relationship, nor if they hadn’t insisted on getting Merc or Ferrari’s best like that is what they are entitled to, and even poking them in the ribs by saying they were ‘afraid’ to supply them.

          RBR needs to step up and do the real work that Merc and Ferrari and hopefully McHonda are, and stop the sense of entitlement.

          1. You mean this wouldn’t be an issue had Renault employed more than 150 people on the 2014 PU when merc and Ferrari (eventually) committed 400+ staff.

            Slagging someone off doesn’t lose you races, being incompetent and having no clue on how to build a PU does.

            Which one of those options was Renault and which one was red bull?

        2. Renault were a full manufacturer entry before Red Bull entered the sport; Honda, on the other hand, have never been a full works outfit, only an engine/powertrain supplier.

          1. Errm. Not quite true. Honda entered as a full works manufacturer (engine, chassis etc) in 1964 and their first win came in 1965 (Richie Ginther at the Mexican GP).
            In 2005 Honda bought the remaining 50% of BAR and the team entered 2006 as the Honda Racing F1 Team.

  11. Can anybody tell me what was the point of that hill climb video? zzzzzz. zzzzzz.

    1. To prove once again that slo mo can make even sleek fast cars appear slow and boring. Kabuki theater on wheels FTW!

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