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Aston Martin supports Todt’s ‘world engine’ proposal

2018 F1 season

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Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer has backed FIA president Jean Todt’s proposal for a common engine specification to be used in several racing series including F1.

Todt recently suggested reviving the idea of a ‘world engine’ for motorsport which his predecessor Max Mosley raised in 2009. The original concept proposed using a four- or six-cylinder normally aspirated engine for lower-level series which would be adapted for high-end championships using turbochargers.

Andy Palmer, Silverstone, 2017
Palmer could bring Aston Martin into F1
Aston Martin has become Red Bull’s title sponsor for the 2018 F1 season and is considering an entry into F1 in 2021. Palmer backed the idea for a ‘world engine’.

“There’s two things,” he explained. “One, some guys could make a business out of making the engine which is good, as opposed to it being just a marketing play.”

“And secondly it puts the emphasis back on the drivers.”

Championships which might make use of the ‘world engine’ include Formula 1, Formula 2, Formula 3, GP3, the World Endurance Championship and IndyCar, all of which currently run different engine specifications. Palmer also suggested tin-top series such as the DTM and Super GT could use a version of the engine.

From this year Formula 1 engines are required to cover seven race distances, in excess of 2,100 kilometres, under rules which limit drivers to three power units per season. This will bring it closer into line with other championships where engines are required to cover long distances, such as WEC.

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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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  • 45 comments on “Aston Martin supports Todt’s ‘world engine’ proposal”

    1. This is a very interesting concept and I especially appreciatee the “And secondly it puts the emphasis back on the drivers.” part of it.
      I also don’t think IndyCar would join this as they race on methanol in the US, which has some important safety advantages it wouldn’t be necessary beneficial to let go of.

      I think this goes in the right direction of discontinuing the outdated and redundant philosophy of road relevance that has been constraining motorsport ever since we got the ability to create and simulate new ideas on computers rather than the old tedious way of screwing an additional piece of metal onto a car and watching whether it makes it go faster on the track. Motorsport should aim at being best at what is unique to itself, just like any other sport.

      1. Indycar uses Sunoco E85R fuel (blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline).

        From the current Indycar regs,

        1. The thing is that only in F1 it is considered een big problem that only the rich teams are at the front. This is quite norms in voetbal and other big money sports

    2. And while we’re at it, lets introduce a world chassis. It can be used for lower categories and be adapted for high end series with little dangly bits and racing Stripes!

      I HATE it. There’s soooooo many Speck series, can’t one series put emphasis on the Cars as well? To hell with ‘about the drivers hier durr’

      1. And why stop there? Let’s introduce a World Autonomous Drive package. We should stop putting those poor drivers in harm’s way.

        F1 to me is a team sport like football; F1 shouldn’t just be about the driver, as FC Barcelona shouldn’t just be about Messi.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          11th January 2018, 15:22

          I agree but if Barcelona stood 0 chance of beating Real Madrid because of a supplier, it’d be a problem.

          1. The thing is that only in F1 it is considered een big problem that only the rich teams are at the front. This is quite norms in voetbal and other big money sports

        2. In terms of media coverage and reward, F1 is about the driver.

    3. Caption under the picture says: “Palmer could bring Aston Martin into F1” but it would be more appropriate to say “Palmer could bring F1 into Aston Martin”. That’s what he’s obviously trying to do.

    4. Wasn’t that the goal of the current Hybrid F1 engine? I seem to remember Todt floating the idea of a team using it for WEC… Seems strange that Aston would be against the current engine but for one that is, for all intents a purposes, the same thing?

      It’s as if they’re playing politics… 🤔

      1. no really ;-)

      2. @optimaximal, Renault did initially plan to use their engine in the WEC as part of a plan to promote their Alpine brand. They have been running an Alpine branded LMP2 car since 2014, and I believe that they had hoped to rebadge their engine with the Alpine name and use it in the WEC.

        However, rule changes by the ACO soon killed those plans off – firstly, they changed the LMP2 regulations and effectively turned it into a standard engine spec class, so Renault couldn’t use their engine in that class, then they changed the LMP1 class to only permit manufacturer teams to use energy recovery systems (killing off the other idea Renault had explored, which was forming a partnership with an independent LMP1 team). Whilst they were, and still are, theoretically permissible, the ACO effectively shifted the regulations in a way that made it very difficult for them to be used in practise in the WEC.

    5. I do not beleive a ‘World Engine’ is the answer – why not open up regulations and use balance of performance measures to allow engines used in other categories to be used in F1, and vice-versa? Porsches 2.0L Turbo V4 in an F1 car would be excellent, and allows a quick and easy way to get manufacturers into the sport, or even provide a ‘budget’ engine in the way of the Gibson LMP2 engine for smaller teams. It could also bring down the costs of F1 engines if they were permitted for use in other series such as WEC or Indy, due to the increased production volume. Imagine, a grid of varied engines going head to head, what an absurd idea…

      1. I agree, it isn’t necessary for F1 to have to use a 1.6 litre V6 engine, it could use other engines of different sizes and configurations because F1 currently has fuel flow restrictions, so whether the engine is this or that isn’t as important as the ability to use the energy in the fuel efficiently.

      2. It could also bring down the costs of F1 engines if they were permitted for use in other series such as WEC or Indy, due to the increased production volume.

        Highly doubt Ferrari or Mercedes want other people opening up their engines and looking at their piston and cylinder head design. F1 has a lot of IP that isn’t even patented because other people would be able to see what they’re doing. Engine costs will never go down unless there’s and engine freeze.

        1. Also wanted to say, Aston Martin should really have little to no voice in F1. They have no F1 history, they barely even put their own engines in their road cars, they’re only shoe in the F1 door is a title sponsorship with RB.

          1. @thejaredhuang you could a few years ago make the same argument about McLaren road cars though

            1. Or Mercedes F1 team. No history or relation ot the original team. Just buying their way in like the path Aston could be on.

            2. McLaren has been in the sport since the 70s, they get historic payouts from FOM, I think they have a say in the sport… Aston on the other hand has never turned a wheel in F1.

              Mercedes F1 is not related to the original silver arrows? Did the company started by Daimler and Benz get bought by someone else in the last 100 years?

        2. Other people like HAAS or Force India? It would be no different, they would still be customers.

          1. Pretty sure customer teams don’t open or work on the engines besides swapping external parts (spark plugs, turbos, etc). I think the FIA also seals certain parts of the engine as well. Case in point, McLaren had the 2014 Mercedes engine and by 2017 Honda still didn’t copy it correctly.

    6. I must’ve missed the transition from Andy Palmer thinking his opinion is relevant to other people thinking Andy Palmer’s opinion is relevant.

      1. WeatherManNX01
        11th January 2018, 18:23

        File it alongside people thinking Bernie Eccelstone’s and Jacques Villeneuve’s opinions are relevant. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        1. JV is actually a competent commentator. He knows what he’s talking about 90% of the time. The rest is spewing out semi-random insults because he needs attention.

          Andy Palmer, however, is paying Red Bull a lot of money his enterprise doesn’t really have to big himself up and talk about F1 engines like a grown-up. And that’s where it becomes almost comical.

    7. Let’s not confuse this for anything it isn’t: Palmer is simply taking a stance which aligns with that of the team his company sponsors. Levelling the engine playing field plays to Red Bull’s strengths in theory, so this really shouldn’t come as a surprise that he has said this.

      1. Although I am sure Palmer would also be happy to have an engine (that Red Bull pays for) if he could then make money selling it to other racing series, use it in sporscars (including maybe selling to LMP1/2 teams?) and in their own cars @geemac :-)

        Overall, there really is nothing too surprising about it, including indeed, that Red Bull helps them a lot to get somewhere in the world currently

    8. Duncan Snowden
      11th January 2018, 14:00

      I don’t think it’s a bad idea, as long as it’s not the only option. That’s what’s wrong with F1, and most of the other FIA WCs, these days: it’s one-size-fits-all. We need to get back to the mindset that allowed BMW to take blocks off its road car production line and turn them into F1 engines. I’m not saying the rules need to be formulated to allow that specifically, because that was a very unusual situation even in its day, but they need to be free enough for something like it to be a possibility, for manufacturers to design F1 power units that suit their own circumstances, rather than dictating to them exactly what they must produce, even if it’s supposed to be “cheap” or “simple”.

      If a manufacturer has an engine that could conceivably be adapted to be competitive in F1, then the rules should allow it, whether it’s four cylinders or twelve, turbo, hybrid, both, or neither. Obviously there have to be rules to keep the competition fair, but that attitude should be the starting point. Otherwise we’re going to be stuck with four suppliers (at best) forever.

      1. But if it’s not the only option, you immediately get into equalising measures which are bound to hurt either.

        1. At the start of F1 the only change each season was the engine configuration to equalise the performance between teams. So you could run a 10L V12 or a 4L V8 turbo (figures aren’t exact) but the point was that the HP was the same. A V12 has more torque at the bottom end but the V8 turbo kicked in on a long straight. We have seen Mercedes is stating its engine is approaching the 1000hp mark the old V10 NA engines were close to this and the same with the V8’s. If the teams are asked to drop the hybrid aspect of an engine the thermal effciency they have learned will allow them to build simpler engines with more power. What i agree with is that why not open the engines up: If you want a state of the art full turbo-hybrid V6 then that has the same HP as a NA 3L V10 or a NA 2.4L V8. Give the teams a choice over how they power the car. Yes a hybrid will kick the car out of the corner faster but on the longer straights if theres a “de-reg” issue the V10 and V8 will still catch. We see F1 teams diversifying with body work and brake ducts let the engine open up.

    9. Awful idea. Will never happen thank God. Why reduce an incredible part of car design down to a porper spec so rubbish little teams can have an engine. F1 is expensive, always has been and always will….if you cannot afford to do it don’t (Aston Martin).

    10. Not a world engine, but a world specification.
      A set of parameters that manufacturers have to follow (you know, like the F1 rule book) but that grants them freedom and allows them to search the best solutions (electric, hybrid, combustion, hydrogen, synthetic fuel, etc). Limit some things, like construction materials, or the number of kms that they have to do, as long as each manufacturer can come up with the best possible solution within their strengths. In F1 currently we have 4 companies having a go at the same engine, that is not diversity.

      Then just let them sell to their audience regardless of the type of motorsport. I can see more manufacturers having a go at it this way, and maybe we could have a cosworth engine, an Audi , Peugeot, maybe even an Aston Martin.

      Client teams would have a bigger choice, and guess what would come down? Prices!

    11. Surely this would push engine managacturers to leave F1 to do full time Formula E programs.

    12. As mentioned in the article, the idea came up before. And it never was a success. The problem is that either you only get a very broad set of specifications so that all series and manufacturers can do their own thing, with their own limits, targets and cost levels, or you end up with one compromise that really doesn’t fit any racing series, where none of the manufacturers (or even a single manufacturer, that will make everyone happy :-( ) are satisfied with the spec or what it brings to them and with a cost level that doesn’t really match either.

      Call me a sceptic.

      1. @bascb The problem with how they went about it back in the 90’s was that the F1 formula that was put forward as the ‘world engine’ (3.5Ltr N/A V8-12) wasn’t what a lot of the other categories wanted to run. It was a formula that wasn’t really suitable for Sportscar racing & wasn’t a formula that Indycar had much interest in either.

        If they had gone with a smaller capacity turbo idea similar to what Group C & Indycar were running at the time & what F1 had been using a few years earlier then the idea probably would have got more traction than it did.

        1. Great point there @gt-racer. And yeah, I am sure that if they choose a good approach it will not be as badly received as it was then. But still, I doubt a single solution could be easily found for all of the enormous range of motorsports (even if limited to formula racing, sport cars, touring cars and WRC that are under the FIA umbrella).

    13. This is what did for the old WSC back in day and killed off Group C.

      I want to see a variety of engines and engineering solutions that best tackle different driving disciplines in different series across the world.

      That’s why I like watching different types of racing, as a MOTORSPORT fan in general.

      We’ll be including powerboat racing in this argument next at this rate …

      1. It’s a bit different to the WSC example, surely? They were basically forced to use the existing F1 engine format and had to slash the length of their races to do so. Whereas now the service lives of F1 and WEC engines have largely converged.

        1. @keithcollantine, are you sure about that claim of cutting the length of the races?

          In the late 1980’s, before the introduction of the F1 engine format, apart from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the World Sportscar Championship had cut back the length of the sprint races to 480km. I wouldn’t say that the race length was that markedly shorter after the F1 engines came in, since they had already been moving towards making the sprint races shorter for several years in an effort to make the races more appealing to the public – they’d been trying to get the length of the races below the three hour mark, which they achieved with the 480km events, as they found that there was a fairly limited market for the 1000km events that tended to last around 6 hours or more.

    14. Good grief.
      Andy Palmer and Aston Martin are irrelevant.
      Spec racing is the problem, not the solution.
      Hitching the wagon to automobile OEMs is the problem, not the solution.
      Thinking F1 needs to be “road relevant” (see OEMs) is the problem, not the solution.
      This is not hard, but F1 will never get to where it needs to be – or even survive past 2026 – unless it detaches itself from the automobile manufacturers.

      1. Gary
        Unfortunately, they are the only ones with the resources to research & produce these hybrid power units. Unless the the formula from 2021 is so simple and cheap to research & produce, F1 for the foreseeable future is
        to remain a manufacturer dominated series.

    15. Another POS idea for F1! In case you didn’t notice, the main subjects here, as stated in the article, are… business and marketing! Somebody wants a business, some marketing and MONEY… and found motorsports high end series’ as an unexplored playground. Maaaan, what’s wrong with this world, from the gazillion of cars and thousands of racing cars racing in all kind of series around the world… some 20 damnn cars can’t evade these sharks! Booo, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, dude!

    16. In case the marketing men haven’t noticed, diversity is king, not grey uniformity and the people want choice. I don’t suppose this “idea” of yours is in any way linked with Aston Martin’s potentially becoming an F1 engine supplier? Haha what a rib tickler. One-Make Spec Racing and BOP is a killer at this level of motor racing. Haas is already pushing his luck…Just NO already Palmer.

    17. BTW, I’m a Ferrari fan, but in F1 and for its own good on long term, better start cutting drastically the sums “awarded” for the historic presence/relevance and share the money with the smaller teams. Of course, Ferrari will lose mostly and won’t be happy, but they should deal with it without problems. Mercedes, RBR, McLaren will do just fine. Yeah, this is 1 of the main problems in F1 indeed for the smaller teams, especially when you think that HAM, VET, ALO etc are paid like 40-50mil euro per year!! It seems that their teams can afford these salaries. Come on, they’ll race in F1 even for 5mil per year, trust me. Cut the “history money” and give them to the smaller teams. If these teams will say why – cause they need the money, FIA should just say to cut their drivers salaries. Cause the “teams problem” is indeed a lot more… problematic… than the drivers problem. It’s very hard to get new teams to race in F1, no so when it comes to drivers. If some driver (be it HAM, VET etc) will say he’ll quit F1 cause the salary is not enough, show him the door. Plenty of drivers around. Not teams tho. And without teams F1 might close its doors indeed one day. Most of the manufacturers avoid F1 (on purpose), so better pay more respect to smaller teams and try to keep them around.

    18. WeatherManNX01
      11th January 2018, 18:20

      It’s not a bad idea, and it makes sense for engine manufacturers to get the most out of their investment by making something that’s more universally available than to just a handful of teams. For the teams, it could potentially drive down the cost of the engines because of economies of scale.

      My big problem with the concept is that of engine layout. The engine compartment in an LMP1 car is different from that of a GT car, which is different from that of an F1 car, which is different from that of an IndyCar, which is different from that of…you get the point. On some level, there’d have to be technical regulations overhauls in each series that wanted to use the global engine. There’d be a master regulation spec to write for the engines, but some series might have to completely redesign their cars for it.

      Making the engines would be easy. Getting series to sign on? That’d be really tough.

    19. “One, some guys could make a business out of making the engine which is good, as opposed to it being just a marketing play.”

      He actually said that with a straight face? A guy who is just sat on the periphery of F1 via a minor sponsorship, piggy-backing along to gain exposure, with no obvious intention of ever actually taking part, giving the impression he has a problem with ‘marketing plays’?

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