Stefano Domenicali

Volkswagen Group to attend F1 engine meeting

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Volkswagen Group will be represented at a forthcoming meeting on F1’s engine rules by Lamborghini chief and former Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali.

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Was Ferrari’s victory a one-off or the sign of things to come?

I think Australia 2017 was like Malaysia 2015: Vettel won due to Hamilton’s strategy getting him stuck in traffic.

That said, at least in Australia Vettel was able to keep the pace with Hamilton, and won without a Safety Car.
Michael Brown (@Mbr-9)

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Keith Collantine
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  • 77 comments on “Volkswagen Group to attend F1 engine meeting”

    1. For F1 to own circuits could be a mistake. Over the years so many circuits have had financial difficulties and had to withdraw, or the companies owning them have collapsed. You only have to look at the Nurburgring, whose fame and popularity matches that of Silverstone, Monte Carlo, and Indianapolis, to see this.

      Originally, when the deal was signed with Paul Ricard, when Bernie was still in charge, the event organiser and promoter was an entirely separate company, my understanding of which they have basically agreed to pay for the use of the circuit for the F1 weekends (although correct me if I’m wrong).

      Unless they were to do this, in which case owning circuits sounds pointless as they wouldn’t even get the extra profit, F1 would risk any loss-making from circuits rippling back into the sport, possibly jeopardising it. The extra profit would not offset this, unless it were a seriously large amount.

      I know it sounds a bit Bernie-esque to say that the circuit owners / event promoters should suffer the loss (and I don’t think it’s right that Bernie abused his power to get so much money from them), however as a hard fact that is basically how business works. There are plenty of good circuits with wealthy owners who would be willing to take the risk for a more reasonable price.

      Maybe years down the line, once F1 has sorted every other problem it has, and once it has got its fan base larger again, it can think about doing this. For the time being, even in the current long-term, it’s not a risk I’d be taking. That said, I’m sure Chase has a lot more experience than me.

      1. @strontium
        I’d guess that the idea would be that if F1 owned the circuit, they wouldn’t need a hosting fee, they’d just keep all of the profits from the GP weekend. They then get the benefit of operating F1 experiences throughout the year when the circuit isn’t hosting other events or race series. They’d probably only do it with a small number of circuits though, not own every circuit.

        1. That would quickly show them that it is far more profitable to get the hosting fee, as the “profits from the GP weekend” are often quite a bit lower than said fee @beneboy, @strontium. That actually is quite a good reason for them to do it, much like @Hohum mentions :-)

          1. @bascb
            But if you have a GP that’s at risk because they can no longer afford the hosting fee, but that happens to be popular with the fans (Silverstone, or Spa, for example) then just keeping the profits would be more than a non-existant fee. They’d also be able to get some positive media for “saving” popular GPs, plus whatever extra revenue they can create at their newly owned circuits using the F1 brand.

            1. I really don’t see much of a difference between waiving (part of) the fee and taking over money wise. But from a point of view of risk, there IS a big difference.

              Overall, the point that @hohum was making was about FOM getting a better gauge on what comes into running the race, and what helps make it work better.

        2. if it’s only a few then that makes sense – not only do they pull the profits from a GP weekend but also form other races/test days that the track is used for. but what about the maintenance expenses?? big question mark and risk for me.

        3. It sounds very un-ethical to me. How are the other circuits going to compete with the “official” GPs? The current circuits are already struggling to justify their spot in the calendar and only manage to stay because the local politicians think it is worth it to have the f1 gp because all of the money it brings to the area. Not because the gp itself is profitable. I think it is just as unethical as fom or fia running their own team in f1. I think it is clear conflict of interests

          1. @socksolid that’s a very good point that I had not considered.

            It’s certainly true to say that if F1 gave any sort of priority to its own tracks I’m sure the others would have a problem with this, similar to how many were very angry theirs had been devalued through Abu Double, which happened because of money.

            Although the impact this would have is, of course, unknown

      2. @strontium , I think it would be a good idea for them to have ” skin in the game ” rather than the current situation where they are insulated in the short term from stupid ideas that can bankrupt a track before they are rescinded.

      3. @strontium, the Nurburgring is not a particularly good example though, since the financial problems there were due to shockingly poor management that eventually resulted in major financial fraud.

        After it emerged that they had blown over €540 million in state funds, most of the former directors, along with the former Finance Minister for the Rhineland-Palatinate region, were prosecuted for fraud after it emerged that the financial accounts for the circuit were forged to ensure that the circuit would qualify for state funding and to hide the debts that they were racking up (over €350 million by the time they were ousted).

        1. When I read this, I saw this as a thinly-veiled request by Epstein to get Liberty Media to buy COTA. Since the last USGP, rumors and whispers have circulated the facility is up for sale with its state funding to be significantly cut in 2017. But he was also alluding to the NASCAR business model which owns a number of tracks on its schedule. Someone earlier had alluded that if F1 owned its tracks, that would exclude it from other facilities and that has happened a few times in NASCAR, giving its own tracks favorable race dates over those not owned by them.

          1. @photogcw, I agree that Epstein is drawing a fairly unsubtle parallel with the way that NASCAR operates, although that system has also come in for criticism.

            Asides from complaints over the calendar, there are those who feel that it has given the France family an incredibly powerful stranglehold over NASCAR given that over half the circuits on the calendar are owned by International Speedway Corporation, with the France family being the dominant shareholder.

            It is a position that has resulted in a number of legal challenges over complaints of financial conflicts of interests and allegations of anti-competitive behaviour by the ISC, so it is perhaps not necessarily a model that you might want F1 to emulate.

          2. I think that it is both for reasons of conflict of interest as mentioned by @socksolid as well as the issues mentioned by @photgcw and anon about taking over tracks (yes, I also read it as Epstein being happy to offload the track and gecoup some of their investment).

            It shows exactly what burdens from the past FOG would take on by buying the tracks directly and running them. Both with the Nurburgring but even with CoTA there are quite a few of unresolved issues having to do with the past. These range from obligations tied to the planning permission, to land taxes, traffic compliancy, even estimates of the current value and how to rate what was invested.

            I can see how working as the promotor would maybe work, and even help FOG get “more feel” for the business. But owning a track is something quite different with larger issues.

    2. For a second I read

      “Mclaren collaborate with Amazon…..on a new engine”

      1. Sadly the UPS truck running a 4 cylinder diesel will get the packages to your door faster.

      2. which would of been a better deal, for amazon and mclaren. in the actual case, what they will produce has all the hallmarks to be an extremely dull and boring yet very well-done behind the scenes featuring a lot of engineers, a driver who trains all the time in a team that spends million on a car destined for last place.

        as in the twitter-sphere a behind the scenes of justin timberlake performing at the usgp would be more worthwhile for all and especially f1.

      3. It will be weighed down by the packaging

    3. Would get too excited with VAG attending this meeting.

      The earliest they will join, if they do, will be when the next engine rule change comes about.

      1. So don’t get excited about VAG presence at a meeting about the next set of engine regulations because the soonest we’ll see VAG is when the next set of engine regulations come into effect?

        Did I get that right?

        1. The Duke, well put – I don’t know what point Jay Menon was trying to make, mainly because I’m not sure he knew what point he was trying to make either…

          1. would = wouldn’t
            And suddenly it’s clear to all ;)

            1. @f1-liners, but then the comment is effectively pointless in that case. Keith explicitly stated in the tag line that VW were participating to discuss the potential regulations that might be introduced when the next engine formula is introduced, so effectively he is just repeating a point that has already been made.

        2. knoxploration
          30th March 2017, 14:09

          don’t get excited about VAG

          Truer words were never spoken lol

      2. People are always excited about vag

      3. VAG were responsible for F1 trying the current hybrids originally slated to be 4 cylinders, they then didn’t bother and a compromise on V6 was reached. They are just posturing. F1 should ignore them, they used to say F1 needed to have hybrid but that was not the real reason just an excuse not to enter. Hybrid came about they did not bother moaning about cost. Hybrids cost, normal engines are not in their plans so what do they want…..not to get beat.

    4. Red Bull could be really far behind by Canada, surprised because they were the biggest advocate for the new Regulations.

      1. They always knew they would be behind on power at the start of the season because it’s the first version of a new engine concept. That they’re only this far behind is actually extremely promising.

      2. We might be in a similar situation when Brawn GP came in and won the championship. On that rules overall RedBull didn’t nail it right at the beginning, but they improved with time and started challenging from mid-season on.

        They started to dominate the year after, in the 2nd year of the new rules. I believe that may be their philosophy, they build a solid foundation and then try to make gains on it. Even in the hybrid era, they started badly (with STR finishing in front of them at the start) but laid down a basis that at least made them finished ahead of Ferrari in two of the three years (with a less powerful engine). I wouldn’t be surprised if RB dominates 2018.

        1. (Red Bull) improved with time and started challenging from mid-season on.

          Correct @johnmilk – many people forget that RBR/Vettel were the strongest from British GP ’09.

          I think we should change the history books and give Button 0.5 WDC and Vettel 4.5 WDCs ;)

      3. surprised because they were the biggest advocate for the new Regulations.

        @foreverred They weren’t just the biggest advocate, they pretty much came up with the whole concept of the new aero rules.

    5. Mark in Florida
      30th March 2017, 2:50

      Doesn’t Volkswagen basically have a F1 engine already? I know that it would have to be redesigned to be a gas burner but the basics for it is there. Unless Jon Todt wants a v4 with a huge battery pack. Make that a two stroke and it would solve the noise situation. VAG is not going to get into F1 they are busy trying to pay off billions in fines. Ford might at some point jump back in through Haas F1…maybe.

      1. Ever heard of positive spin?

        PU development is also a write off and these companies do get production value R&D learning from these programs. Even if it’s just material sciences they learn and cannot unlearn.

        Lamborghini is the perfect VAG brand for F1. Insulted, performance driven, and looking to electrify slowly.

        Audi already committed to FE.

      2. You mean the Audi LMP diesel?

      3. Don’t forget that Porche is ALSO VAG. They have fingers in a lot of pies.

      4. Mark in Florida, at the moment, VW do not have an engine which would comply with the current engine regulations and, since the talks are about potential changes to the regulations from 2021 onwards, it would indicate that they have no intention in getting involved in F1 before then.

        If you are thinking of a V4 engine, the closest thing would be the 2.0L V4 engine that Porsche has built for the 919. However, by 2021 that design would be getting on for at least 9 years old (development work on that engine began in at least 2012, possibly earlier), so it is questionable whether they would still want to use that engine as a basis for any future F1 programme by then.

        That said, I would be a little cautious about getting too excited about those engine talks given that VW were also present during the talks that resulted in the current engine format. Newey confirmed a few years ago that the original plan to use an inline four cylinder engine instead of the V6 that was eventually adopted was because VW had indicated in those discussions that they would enter if F1 adopted those regulations, only to then go back on that agreement.

        1. Mark in Florida
          30th March 2017, 14:42

          The motor architecture that I was referring to was the LMP 1 motor. Audi has years of prototype hybrid engine experience. I originally believed that they would have given Mercedes a hard run for their money. Audi is very good at making power plants that work. But they waited to long to get in the game and now they are involved in the diesel gate scandal. Porsche would have been the iconic name to return to F1 as a team or power plant provider. The v4 two stroke was a poke at Horner complaining about the noise levels of the new motors. The SAAB v4 comes to mind, I have heard one at a vintage race at Sebring. It was smoking and screaming all the way around the track. These new motors are monsters they are just fairly quiet. I mean if noise is what you need make everyone run 4 rotor Mazda engines, then everyone would be solidly deaf. My hope is that Liberty with Ross Braun can level the field financially and have a coherent engine plan that won’t break the bank. I also wish that Jean Todt would go away I am very disappointed in his leadership.

          1. Mark in Florida, the V6 turbodiesel that Audi used in the WEC might have the same number of cylinders, but I wouldn’t have said that it would make for a particularly good basis for a petrol engine with less than half the capacity.

            I wouldn’t have said that Audi has much of an advantage in terms of their knowledge of hybrid systems either. The flywheel based kinetic energy recovery system they fitted in 2013 was an off the shelf unit that was bought in from Williams Hybrid Power.

            They did develop a thermal energy recovery system in 2014, but they were struggling with the weight of the system and that of the overall car (which was overweight with the thermal energy recovery system fitted) and eventually ditched it from the car until 2015. Furthermore, the ACO does not allow for the hybrid systems in the WEC to be interlinked in the way that they are in F1, so not all of Audi’s knowledge from the WEC could be transferred.

            As for Porsche, whilst they did state that they did consider producing an F1 power unit if the VW AG had blocked their return to the WEC, I would say that their reputation in F1 is a bit mixed. Whilst the TAG-Porsche engines were successful in the turbo era in the 1980’s, Porsche were also responsible for the 3512 in 1991, an engine that was so bad that their customer, Footwork, only used it for four races before ditching Porsche and switching to a customer Ford Cosworth engine instead.

      1. Not sure what’s the saddest thing about this situation…. the attention requirement or the inaccuracy of the COTD…

        1. @mbr-9 Terribly sorry, didn’t mean to leave your name off! Fixed.

    6. Red Bull doing 4 races on the first engine, then only 2 on the second? Kind of seems a bit out of balance, maybe the Canada timeline is a bit optimistic. Either way I’m excited to see the performance gain, they don’t seem too far behind Merc/Ferrari at all really.

      1. They could still use the second engine as a backup though Tristan. And if it is a big step in power, I can see why they would not want to wait another 2 races before they put it to use. They might try something like having Ricciardo do 6 races with his engine (since it did not see that much running in Australia), if they think it is possible.

        1. @bascb I was under the impression the Australia engine was totalled, or was the gearbox only?

          1. Not sure about that @johnmilk. I think it was just a SW glitch that stopped him in the end, so the engine should be fine.

    7. Looks like the link to the Giovanazzi article in the roundup is not working right @keithcollantine (probably just some additional “s or something like that)

    8. Please – SOMEONE PLEASE tell me these guys will take over from Honda @ Mclaren it would literally make my day so much. – one other big plus is that VW logo doesnt have blue in it any more (boooom) – plus – what if (just what if cus this cam up last year) Audi step into F1 with the AF1 2018 :) could create some fun!!! im hopefull

      1. @greggriffiths but it wouldn’t be going for engine that only works in a test environment as well?

        1. @johnmilk – can you explain that – dont think im getting!! :(

          1. @greggriffiths the emissions scandal, in a testing environment the engine worked fine, but on the road it had different CO2 levels ;)

            1. ok ok i get that, but seriously mate – who wories about CO2 emmitions on a race track – they have to have the largest carbon footprint of almost any sport in the world :)
              plus – the CO2 scandel didnt make their engins breakdown.

              one question that sprints to mind is what brand will the VW group put forward if it does come and join – would be LOVELY to see a Bugatti logo – plus tey have a record of creating the worlds fastest road car to date – just throwing that out there :)

            2. definitely @greggriffiths, just a joke ;)

              that would be great yes. I personally would prefer for them to bring in a brand that has already a rivalry with the ones that are in Formula 1

            3. so I figured when the emissions scandal came into it :) – TBH i was more confused than anything to start with.
              it would be great if they could but they don’t own any other brand synonymous with track racing than Bugatti – the where a big player in very early year if memory serves me right??

            4. They have Audi and Porsche with wec pedigree. I think those could be interesting.

              Bentley also belongs to the group.

              Nevertheless F1 is so specific if they do enter they will assemble a team and then name it according to market exposure.

    9. Enzo’s photo on the round-up yesterday. Stefano’s in today’s. Will Marchionne or some other Ferrari principal feature tomorrow

      1. cue a hastily arranged fia press conference led by Todt

        1. @rick1984 the return of the Ferrari International Assistance!

          1. @davidnotcoulthard yeah they keep telling us its Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile but im not buying it!!!

    10. VW group in and he have:

      Ferrari vs Lamborghini
      or/and
      Mercedes vs Audi

      Where do I sign?

      1. haha – join you on that someone pass us the link

    11. It would be great if Volkswagen stepped into F1 as a McLaren supplier. But not before 2020 I hope.

      Working with VW should be much easier than working with Honda because the working culture is similair between German and British. Honda should just start its own team again and develop everything in-house.

        1. actually +1 apart from the bit about supplying Mclaren before 2020

      1. I hope that will never happen, VAG should rather go on an supply Williams. Not only I see way more potential there with key people like Paddy Lowe, there is also a lower possibility of being exposed and treated like a doormat.

        1. ok…accept that – but i think Mclaren (with their histroy in F1) affrod to be given the first oppertuity.
          also are you trying to throw ladder downt he hole that Honda are creating for themselves? – lets face it – any problems that Mclaren have had this season have been linked back to the engine – unfair to say all of them – but the majority. right?

          1. I do recognise the Honda engine as faulty and weak. It’s the way McLaren criticise Honda that I dislike.

    12. I don’t se all the fuss regarding VW…they attended the last F1 engine meeting as well and nothing happened. Btw Mercedes and Ferrari attended the last WEC meeting as well, it’s something manufactures do on a regular basis.

    13. Liberty should buy some circuits,
      and follow in the footsteps of the Tour the France buying city centres, and World Cup Soccer buying whole countries ;)

      1. You mean whole countries buying World Cup Soccer, right?

    14. Ref the Twitter numbers Keith.

      Do you not know by now that it’s the ‘quality’ of said numbers not the ‘quantity?’ :)

    15. Comment of the day:
      First paragraph it states that Australia 2017 was like Malaysia 2015.
      Follows up by explaining that in fact Australia 2017 was nothing actually Malaysia 2015. 😂
      #pointless

    16. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      30th March 2017, 13:03

      I’ve noticed something very interested about Stroll’s onboard camera footage (the full race onboard feed can be found here).

      Like qualifying, in the opening laps he is almost comically erratic, and is loosing seconds of laptime with errors stemming from a car nervous of his lead feet and wayward steering inputs. He is driving the FW40 like an F3 car; trying to induce grip at the front end by sawing at the wheel, and instead of reacting to the rear sliding, he is trying to anticipate the rear with his steering inputs. Worryingly, he bares great resemblance to most GP2 debutantes: nervous of the throttle due to an unfamiliar level of torque and unaware that gentle inputs provide the most stable platform for the aerodynamics to work. For Verstappen, those were lessons learnt through his very own anomalous intuition, however for Stroll there is clearly a lot to learn.

      However when the onboard feed cuts to pass on a hamstrung Giovanazzi, he is looking much, much smoother and effective at the wheel. Clearly he is capable of emphasizing with what he is putting the car through, but he is also visibly tightening up in the cockpit at critical junctures such as qualifying and the opening laps. He preaches utter confidence out of the car, but clearly he needs to relax more when he’s behind the wheel, but there are certainly signs of promise if he can develop a more supple driving style. That said, looking at his level of development versus what we got used to with the likes of Verstappen, Ocon and Sainz, this is clearly going to be little more than a learning year for Lance.

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