Maurizio Arrivabene, Toto Wolff, Monaco, 2018

F1 engine manufacturers agree to drop MGU-H in 2021

2018 Monaco Grand Prix

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F1’s engine manufacturers have agreed to a key part of Liberty Media’s plan for new power unit regulations in 2021, according to Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff.

Following yesterday’s meeting between the teams, the commercial rights holder and the FIA, Wolff confirmed the manufacturers have dropped their opposition to removing the MGU-H from the future power unit specification.

“We have given up on some of the standpoints,” revealed Wolff. “We have accepted to lose the MGU-H.”

The manufacturers have invested heavily in the MGU-Hs, which is considered one of the most advanced features of the current hybrid units and contributes more than half of its electrical power. But removing it is expected to help make the cars and the racing more spectacular.

“We think [dropping] the technology is a step backwards,” said Wolff. “But in terms of achieving compromise for the benefit of the spectacle the H going [means] the revs going up, the fuel limitations going, I think we will have a louder engine, [and] we will not be limited by fuel.

“It’s not the most sustainable message we’re sending out but we can understand it from a spectacle standpoint. It is something you need to consider and accept.”

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Wolff added he strongly opposed a suggestion that all fuel flow limitations should be removed from the power units.

“I had a bit of a moment in the Strategy Group – I think you know that, where I needed to speak to my anger management psychologist – when we talked about getting rid of all fuel flow limitations that we have, all fuel allowances and just completely open it up from the get-go now.

“I think this, we cannot close our eyes to what’s going on in the world. Hybrid energy recovery systems happen on roads cars, they need to happen in Formula One in my opinion.

“But equally we have to understand what the fan is interested in. And I think it needs the technology message, it cannot go without the technology message in Formula One but it needs to be at a level where we recognise that spectacle is important and shocking your senses with an engine sound is maybe something that we can improve.”

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The parties are now “really close on being able to tick the box” on the 2021 engine rules, said Wolff.

“On most of the topics we have found an agreement,” he said. “There is discussion around dyno limitations. We don’t want to continue to outgrow each other with more infrastructure.”

“The only major thing which we need to solve is we’re still spending a lot on engine development and what we need to avoid is double spending over the next years: continuing to develop the current engine and then also doing the new one.”

“A new Formula One in 2021”

Following the concession from the engine manufacturers on the MGU-H the FIA is aiming to finalise the 2021 engine regulations within two months.

McLaren Group CEO Zak Brown he was “encouraged that Jean Todt gave us a commitment that we’ll have the engine regulations in place by the end of June.”

“We’ve been looking for some definitive timelines,” he said. “I think they demonstrated that they’ve listened to the teams between when they rolled out their plans in Bahrain to today.

“They went through what they rolled out, told us what they heard, gave us some views. So that was encouraging. And now I think the teams are anxious to see not only the engine regulations put in place but the balance of the governance, the economic, the sporting to follow quickly because we all need to adapt to what will clearly be a new Formula One in 2021.”

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35 comments on “F1 engine manufacturers agree to drop MGU-H in 2021”

  1. Honda 2021: “right guys…we finally got this MGU-H to work!” Now lets go raci…..oh…..

  2. When the Commercial Rights Holder, the FIA and several teams all manage to get on the same page, it’s next to impossible for one or two teams to dictate the direction the sport is headed. In the end, Liberty Media will present the teams with a document telling them how it will be, and teams will either sign on or leave. I hope there is a definite deadline for acceptance and agreeing to continue beyond 2020. If we have to live through two more years of quit threats, it will drive us all crazy and probably do real damage to the sport. Let’s hammer out the details and move on.

  3. Well, this better work in luring new manufacturers in, otherwise this move could very well blow up in their faces.

    1. Mickey's Miniature Grandpa
      27th May 2018, 4:15

      You can say that again.

    2. @klon: You can say that again!

  4. Well, this better work in luring new manufacturers in, otherwise this move could very well blow up in their faces.

    1. You can say that again!

  5. Maybe it is a sense of pessimism that I have, but why do I get the feeling that the end result is probably going to be rather underwhelming, if not a bit of a failure?

    I doubt that removing the MGU-H is going to suddenly see a torrent of new entrants into the sport given that few new engine manufacturers seem to have been attending the 2021 regulation meetings, whilst I can’t see anybody wanting to foot the bill for an independent engine manufacturer to enter. I doubt it will really make the sport any cheaper – rather, I suspect that all that will happen is that spending is diverted elsewhere – and I don’t think it is going to magically transform the racing that we have now.

    Those who bang on about the engines will still bang on about them, since nothing can be done that will ever satisfy them – all in all, I think that, come 2021, we’ll still be hearing the same rants from the same people who complain now.

    1. But the removal of the ‘H’ is only one thing that is happening for 2021. There is the addressing of dirty air, which I predict will result in the removal of drs, and the better money distribution, and potentially a cap of some sort that should all together help make the product on the track better, and the field closer, which should attract audience and therefore sponsors and grow the sport. We don’t know a thing about what the tires will be like come 2021 either. Also to consider is that they are never going to get it 100% perfect such that every single person or entity is happy. That would be unreasonable to expect. It will still remain a tweakable work in progress beyond 2021.

  6. F1 isn’t green in any capacity, nor does it need to be. They thought hybrid tech would be the answer to drawing more teams, only to suddenly face palm and say, this tech extremely expensive, and doesn’t apply to every day road cars. But, after so much investment, then you get the same people arguing to keep this useless hybrid tech were the ones arguing against it in the first place. Always Formula e, Mr. Wolff, and your infinite wisdom…

  7. The FIA at it again, chasing birds in the bush.

  8. ADUB SMALLBLOCK
    26th May 2018, 22:07

    I know it is a hard message to make the news with, but as racing is hardly “green” anyway, why not try to frame the message about the thermal efficiency of these engines. The manufacturers are not going to stop trying to make the most thermally efficient engine they can, with or without the MGU-H.

    1. Because they want to make them much less efficient…

  9. Getting Merc onboard to ditch MGUH was a great victory for FIA. I was gonna congratulate Liberty but just like 2019 aero regulation which credited FIA’s tech guy, I could only see Todt and FIA in the article.

  10. As an F1 fan, I say that I want current engine formula to keep advancing.
    These power units are technological marvels and a true pinnacle of motorsport..going backwards from that is simply, well, going backwards.
    Worst decision ever.

    1. @darko I respect your opinion, but I have always felt that the technology of F1 has always played a supporting role to the quality of racing and the competitiveness of the sport. For me, the cost of this technology, the lack of reliability (I know they are incredibly reliable but not for multiple races with limited replacements), the grid penalties, and other factors lead me to believe that a simpler engine formula would be better for the sport. When the engine formula results in a three engine per season limit with grid penalties, something has to change.

      1. When the engine formula results in a three engine per season limit with grid penalties, something has to change.

        @gwbridge I totally disagree. First the limit is not inherently comes from the engine formula and technologies that comes with it. It’s a secondary goal that can be loosened or even removed any time if they want to. Second and most importantly, it doesn’t suddenly comes out of nowhere. The engine limit (and grid penalty) already known, discussed, and agreed long time before 2014. The grid penalties we have is because the manufacturers simply can’t do good enough job. People blaming Mercedes for trying to maintain the status quo because they’re winning, but the truth is Mercedes is the only manufacturer that achieved the minimum goal required. They’re not doing exceptionally good, the others are the ones who failed (miserably in some cases).

  11. I’m disappointed, but if the teams are ok, then I’m curious what the significant concessions are that they’ve won, in order to give up the H.

    So, Aston Martin, ball’s in your court, let’s see you commit to your engine and F1 entry. And VAG, Toyota, etc.

    1. @phylyp Seems as if you are implying several things there that are assumptions. First, that “the teams” were against giving up the MGU-H. Some teams would benefit greatly if there is a more even distribution of money, and cheaper engines would be icing on the cake. Secondly, if “the teams are ok” with the engine change, then the engine change wouldn’t cause any of the present engine suppliers to leave the sport, and we would still have the four present suppliers. Any new suppliers would, again, be icing on the cake. Third, it’s a big assumption that there had to be any concessions at all by Liberty Media, the FIA and the teams in favor of the proposed changes to get the MGU-H dropped. I haven’t seen any indication from the beginning that dropping the MGU-H was negotiable. If the leaks are correct, Ferrari has already gotten a $40 million concession. If the budget cap is raised from the leaked number of $150 million to $200 million, that will be the concession to Mercedes, but it isn’t that much. Like you, I am curious to see what the final terms are, but I don’t think that Ferrari and Mercedes have the same power to dictate terms that they once had.

  12. I’d imagine it still has to be accepted by the board as they are usually the ones with the ultimate say as to whether a publicly traded company will go racing. Losing road car relevance will not be an easy sell for Mercedes, Ferrari or Renault.

  13. As I’ve said before, the FIA should only decide to pass this into law if they have commitments from new manufacturers that they will enter F1 if the engine formula is simplified. What’s the point if no new players enter? It will be a waste of money.

    I believe F1 will still be an attractive marketing proposition for manufacturers, especially those in the performance sector, which is more competitive now that its ever been.

    1. As I’ve said before, the FIA should only decide to pass this into law if they have commitments from new manufacturers that they will enter F1 if the engine formula is simplified.

      @jaymenon10 – very true, the burst of spending to develop alternate anti-lag systems will be another spending war for the existing 4 PU manufacturers.

      1. @phylyp, and that is why I am of the opinion that this proposal is going to be a failure – I cannot see any new manufacturers entering, as there just doesn’t seem to have been any interest.

        The fact that the manufacturers will now shift spending to areas such as anti-lag systems means that you’re not going to make things any cheaper, you’ll just shift that spending elsewhere: if anything, as you note, it might start pushing costs up again if the manufacturers now need to redesign part of the engine.

        1. But it’s almost like you folks are saying ‘ok, they’ve dropped the H, now…where are the promised manufacturers?’ Like…in the snap of the fingers all these new entities are supposed to come out of the woodwork from one announcement.

          If I’m a potential new entrant to F1, in whatever capacity, I want to hear and see more about any budget caps, about the prize money distribution, but just as importantly about the aero direction and the diminishing of so much dirty air sensitivity, the potential removal of drs, and we haven’t even talked a bit about what the tires might be mandated to be like for 2021. There are many aspects for new entrants, be they engine makers, teams, sponsors, or tire makers, to consider with the new F1, not just whether there’s an H or not.

  14. BJ (@beejis60)
    27th May 2018, 1:02

    After this news was confirmed, I wonder which team was on the phone first to Aston: McLaren or RBR?

    1. Aston has absolutely nothing to add to engine development apart from money.
      RBR will be calling Honda. That’s for sure.

    2. @beejis60, if either of those teams were to call anybody, it would be Cosworth – Aston Martin have already said that any “Aston Martin” engine would just be a rebranded version of somebody else’s engine, and they suggested that Cosworth might be one option in that instance.

      In reality, I think that Palmer is prepared to put out a lot of hot air to get his name, and that of Aston Martin, in the news, but has little of substance to back it up.

  15. Meh…. The MGU-H is the most interesting part of these engines & I believe its one of the key areas of performance gain.

    I am also rather skeptical of the whole ‘encouraging manufacturers’ argument. The detractors of the current formula will say it’s cost & complexity has put engine suppliers off entering F1…. But the V8 formula that was in place previous was cheaper & far less complex yet there still wasn’t any sign of engine suppliers looking to enter F1, In fact it was under that formula that most of them left.

    1. @stefmeister: V8s cheaper? Not for the engine builders – Bernie/FIA forced them to sell at a loss. As a percentage of team cost, the current engines are cheaper than the V8s & V10s while aero dev costs have increased disproportionately.

    2. @stefmeister: +1 on the MGU-H – a brilliant innovation – one that now is too good for F1. Shame.

  16. Rather pointless if you can’t race in the turbulent wake of the car in front of you. They aren’t addressing aero, and they never will.

  17. FlatSix (@)
    27th May 2018, 7:18

    ‘Aero is a big problem, cars can’t follow each other’, OK, we’ll remove the MGH-H! Wait,…!

    I believe if they want to be cost effective and work towards a better future where racing is possible, alter the aero regs just a tad year by year and leave the engine as is. That gives Renault the time and incentive to continue developing theirs, Ferrari and Mercedes will only gain so much each year and Honda’s work is still relevant. Don’t make a big chance for 2021 and eventually have another 2014-2016 period, build on the 2017-2018 we have now!

    1. @flatsix There was a time when you could build a flat-six F1 engine, if you wanted to. Maybe the real problem is that the regulations are so specific that all of the suppliers are struggling to build the same engine.

      1. Maybe the real problem is that the regulations are so specific that all of the suppliers are struggling to build the same engine.

        I would love to see this happen.

        Unfortunately, that would increase development costs dramatically. The manufacturers would have to develop multiple engines in parallel, then determine which one gave the best performance. This does not come cheap.

        Also, we’d probably see a year or 2 of innovation (but with a much more spread out grid), followed by everyone copying the best manufacturers configuration.

  18. One thing I am very curious about is what the overall structure any post-2020 agreement will take. LM has said that they are not wedded to the concept of the “Concorde Agreement” locking things down for such a long period of time, and many of the “norms” we take for granted are based upon the wording of the present Concorde Agreement, not the FIA regulations.

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