Honda RA617H power unit, 2017

‘World engine’ could attract more manufactures to F1 – Todt

2018 F1 season

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Formula 1 would “probably” attract more manufacturers if its engine format could be used in other series, FIA president Jean Todt has said.

The concept of a ‘world motorsport engine’, different variants of which could be used in a range of championships, has been mooted before but never successfully implemented.

Todt made the remarks while admitting he was “very sceptical” F1 could attract a new manufacturer in 2021, when changes to the engine rules were planned.

“Personally I was always pessimistic to the fact that with specific rules for Formula 1 we could have more than four manufacturers,” he told media including RaceFans. “It’s really a great achievement to have four different power trains for 10 teams.”

“That’s why I have to consider to have some common regulations in other championships,” he added. “Probably it would encourage more manufactures if you were able to have seven to 10 customers to be able to buy the product. But that has not happened.”

F1 had a “demonstration of interest” from one party, according to Todt. “[They] said to us we are not in a situation to commit for ’21 but what is very important for us its to know exactly what will be the regulations because it will be a strong interest in the future.”

Start, World Endurance Championship, Silverstone, 2018
The world motorsport engine: An idea whose time has come?
Retaining the four current engine manufacturers – Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Honda – should be F1’s priority, said Todt.

“I always say also it would be very unfair to the four engaged [manufacturers] to say ‘we want to attract a new one so let’s change everything’.

“What about them? About all the investment they have been doing for years, and we say we change completely the regulations because we may have one or two coming [in].

“If we can secure those four, for me that would be a great achievement.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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  • 44 comments on “‘World engine’ could attract more manufactures to F1 – Todt”

    1. We can complain about the Honda’s competitiveness all day long and laugh at their engines but one thing remains clear – we are towards the end of the fifth season of the current regulations and no one has joined the championship and made a competitive engine. All talk about a possibility, we hear about Aston Martin, Porsche, Audi, Cosworth, Ilmor being interested yet no one makes a series attempt. There are no new serious teams in the vicinity. The new regulations were supposed to be very successful thanks to attracting new manufacturers. The result is no one teams apart from Haas (a motorsport team nonetheless with big Ferrari connections), two teams folding, one saved by Renault, more on the verge of survival like Force India or Williams. Well, something is very wrong there.

      1. @michal2009b, a lot of series have been struggling to try and secure new manufacturer entrants for a long time now though.

        The WEC went through its boom and bust cycle, which means that they’re now only left with Toyota (although, even at the peak, the number of manufacturers was always pretty low – two to three at most usually), and they are reportedly struggling to get new manufacturers interested in their future regulations for the LMP1 class. The only part of their series that is doing well are the GT classes, mainly because that class is comparatively cheap to develop a car for, not to mention because the BoP regs means that a manufacturer rarely can go too far wrong.

        As for IndyCar, they’ve been trying for years to get somebody else to join the series – Honda and Chevrolet have been fairly desperate too because, with the current engines being sold significantly below what they cost to produce, they want somebody else to come in to take on new customers to reduce the losses they’re making on that series.

        However, at the moment there seems to be no interest there either – the only party that has expressed an interest is Cosworth, but only if there was a manufacturer willing to pay them to develop that engine (they will not enter as an independent entity).

        In quite a few series, independent manufacturers have log been driven out by the manufacturers, and in turn quite a few of the smaller manufacturers have been driven out by larger ones. The main series which seem to be doing best are those where they’ve made it dirt cheap to enter – for example, over in the US where IMSA have made it cheap to compete in the DPi class by standardising the cars around an LMP2 chassis, or in various GT3 classes where cars can then also be converted to GTE specification (and, again, it is the cheaper GTE class that has done well in the WEC compared to the prototype classes above it).

        It also has to be said that a lot of the financial problems you mention in F1 have always been present and are really no different now to what we have seen in the past. Go back to the V8 era, and all of the new entrants were in constant financial problems – whilst Manor and Caterham finally closed under the current rules, both of them closed due to debts that they had built up during the previous V8 era, including fairly sizeable engine bills, whilst HRT went bankrupt during that era.

        Force India and Williams were not exactly secure either – part of the reason why Fisichella went to Ferrari was because Force India let him go in return for Ferrari writing off part of their unpaid engine supply debts, and of course Force India itself bought up the team because Spyker were going bankrupt and nearly took the team with it (the team having been in financial trouble as both Jordan and Midland before that).

        Williams, meanwhile, were reliant on Toyota giving them a discount on engines in return for running Nakajima for a number of years. I’m pretty sure that Frank Williams has also admitted in the past that the team came close to collapse in that era and relied on Bernie giving them advance payments to solve their cash flow issues.

        Super Aguri vanished after Honda stopped supporting them, whilst the team known as Renault now was in deep trouble during that era when Genii Capital ran it – they admitted overspending heavily in 2010, and then for several years after that they were in constant financial problems due to being unable to ever pay off those debts (hence the problems with paying Kimi in 2013).

        There were also reports of several threats by Ferrari to stop supplying engines to Sauber in those years after non-payment of debts during that era – I believe that, back in 2012, Simona de Silvestro alluded to that when it emerged that Sauber had run out of engines that year for her to carry out any more tests (hence why they were asking for a rather large payment from her for those tests to pay for more engines).

        What, really, is different now to how things were in the past? The engines might have changed, but a lot of the underlying problems you cite have really been there for decades, and blaming the engines is really misleading given they aren’t the biggest source of spending in the sport (aerodynamics having long held that title and often costing most teams more than all other expenses combined).

        1. Wow… great piece ‘Anon’ – should be up with the other articles, instead of here amongst the comments.
          And I have long (ten years or more) hoped the FIA would do something about all the ridiculous ‘aero’ which has done nothing to improve the ‘racing’…!

          1. That’s the guy on this website to talk to if you want to know anything about the history of motor racing- especially F1. He knows practically everything about the history of F1.

        2. The engines now are more expensive to develop to winning potential than in the past, a new manufacturer can’t come in and be competitive, they are 5 years behind in engine devlopement, (7 behind Mercedes). Manufacturers want to be competitive, a series like formula e is much more attractive for manufactures now as its easier to be up the top in a spec series. Formula one will only attract manufacturers back if either the chassis or engine becomes spec.

    2. Here in Canada, we are currently in the process for the legalization of pot. Clearly someone has jumped the gun on this one. Ya think F1 is exciting, just wait for the opening up of the “air-ways” on this little gem.
      Unless the “Universal Engine” is totally wrapped in development freeze heat reflective covering, this would not likely work in F1. Without the opportunity to develop and innovate, the F1 suppliers would probably pack up or give-up. In the “other” series that they want to use this engine, there are usually standard limited packages. F2 and Indy as examples. WEC have their own performance limiting regulations.
      How long would it take for the “Universal Engine” in F1 trim to deviate from the other series.? Not long I would guess.
      How do you manage performance discrepancies between manufacturers.? Performance ballast being one of way.
      Great idea overall, but it would require the wholesale removal of regulations rather than implementation of a vast array of standardization rules.
      If I recall there were once engine rules in Endurance racing that permitted 3 Liter proper race engines and up to 5 Liter “production” engines. That is an intriguing concept. Not currently politically acceptable, but certainly interesting.

      1. As you probably already know most of the US west coast states have legalized pot already. Maybe next time I come to Montreal I’ll buy some. (I thought Ottawa had already legalized it nationwide?)

        1. Yeah the feds were to legalize it July 1 but have now put that off to October some time I believe. They’re doing this without much of a plan though, or are at least leaving it up to individual provinces to deal with it as they see fit, wrt retail stores and who can sell it, etc etc.

    3. Honestly, there just hasn’t been enough interest from other manufacturers recently. Maybe they were intrigued, or considering an entry around 2014-2015, but their interest was definitely squashed once they saw Honda struggle like a bunch of amateurs for 3 seasons in a row. It’s not like Honda hadn’t thrown money at the project, but they still couldn’t even come close to the more experienced engine manufacturers in F1. I’m pretty sure that was a wake up call to the Aston Martins, Porsches and Audis of the world.

      Looking at the current scenario, Todt is right. There is no need to upset the balance of the existing 4 manufacturers to entice one new manufacturer who might or might not enter the sport. The ‘World engine’ seems like an interesting idea, but hard to implement. The massive difference in engine performance standards could spoil the entertainment value of other series. For example, if F2 were to run with 4 different engine manufacturers, it would lose it’s charm as a series. It’s a spec series where the best drivers get a chance to shine before they enter F1. Imagine if we would have a Leclerc stuck with Honda power at the back of his car, and consequently make no impact in the sport whatsoever.

      Hard to say how Todt would make something like this work.

    4. These hybrid engines are an expensive short term gap until full electric takes over, manufacturers will be looking at the upcoming ban on selling new petrol/diesel cars in 12 years and planning to safeguard their future. Formula E is where to invest.

      1. Someone here flew far away, and it ain’t me.

        1. It wouldnt surprise me.

    5. Lovely “blue sky thinking” but how on earth do you make it affordable? A V2 with a PP9 battery? F1 engine cost say $15 million for an F1 team? GP2 team cost to run 2 cars for a whole season say $5 million? F3 cost to run 2 cars for a whole season say $2 million and engine budgets probably 20% of the total budget. So, if my basic maths is correct, for GP2 that’s $1 million per team, 10 teams = $10 million,
      F3, $400k per team, 10 teams = $4 million.
      What am I missing? For slightly less than the revenue of supplying one F1 team, you have the headache of supplying 10+ GP2 Teams and 10+ F3 teams. Does it make sense?

      I remember in F3 when Mercedes and Volkswagen were going head to head, engine budgets were still around the 20% of total budget and they were pumping money back into the Championship supporting drivers, and to be fair they probably still do. Not sure whether in one make formulas such as GP2, and the 2019 F3/GP3 they could either produce an engine that was cost effective, and if they could, would they pump money back into the Championships?

      LMP1 privateers, how much are their engine costs for a season? Significantly less than F1 I would guess.

      Solution? A high revving, normally aspirated, relatively cheap engine. Cut the revs from F1 to F2, halve the cylinders from F2 to F3. DFV, F3000 and BDA/G. How about a modern take on that?

      Not necessarily the ultimate efficient engine, but not bad, and how efficient are the fleets of trucks for the motorhomes, the private jets etc? Maybe some kind of initiative to reduce the emissions and increase the mpg of ALL the vehicles used in F1 would be a good story?

      So there you have it, a complete solution. Reduced cost, noisier engines (without the use of microphones by the exhaust) , attractive to manufacturers and fans, and a bit greener.

    6. And when you have Mercedes engines and Mercedes bodies winning F1, but Ford bodies and Ford engines winning Indy car but Honda engines and Honda bodies winning WRC. If it opens up the championships for independents running modified Ford engines and modified Mercedes bodies winning F1 races. I’m all for it.

    7. It’s really a great achievement to have four different power trains for 10 teams.

      It’s not that great an achievement; certainly not anything to be proud of.
      It should be 4 PU options for thirteen teams.

      Anybody can reduce the denominator and make a percentage look good.

    8. Nothing screams pinnacle of motorsport like having the same engine as every other Series. Maybe make it spec too, manufacturers just have to “buy’n’badge”

      1. Tag heuer wouldnt mind.

      2. It can still be the pinnacle, f1 always has an advantage in power to weight ratio.

    9. I think it would help immensely to show some stability in the regulations for a while. Because of the complexity of these power units, it takes a massive amount of time and a massive investment to produce one that’s competitive and reliable. Why would a manufacturer want to make those investments if the regulations might change again in a few years, rendering all of that work useless?

      I think F1 should keep the current engine regs through the 2023 season, giving this spec a 10-year run. Then, whatever changes they plan on making starting with the 2024 season should remain in effect for the next ten years, as well. If I’m a manufacturer knowing that I’m making such a massive investment, with very limited in-vehicle testing opportunities and very few Customers, I want that investment to be in something that will be guaranteed to have a chance at long-term success.

    10. World engines? How about a single chassis and controlled brakes an suspension as well, and a single aero package. That will fit nicely into the $150 mill budgets Liberty are pushing for.
      But hey Todt and Liberty are not trying to turn F1 into it a spec series, because they have actually come out a said it.

      1. Surely you realised that this is a suggestion for a single engine from each manufacturer that could run in different formulae – not one engine from one manufacturer that everyone has to use…
        So why are you equating it with the “single chassis” and “single aero” concept…?
        This engine concept (whether good or bad) has nothing to do with a “spec series”…!

        1. We’ll see when liberty table their final rule changes for 2021.

          1. That’s easy for you to say… but you don’t answer my question… lol.

    11. To achieve that you need teams and manufacturers willing to compete in all series. If the world engine idea works, Ferrari would be able to supply engines to WEC for example, and would have to invest heavily in more people to build and maintain those engines, even if they share the same platform. Plus people to design and develop the specific engine characteristics for each regulation.

      In no time they’d find gains in one series or the other and the same platform would start to differ.

      Plus you need enough teams at both series to realistically increase the engine suppliers. Which doesn’t look that likely.

      All in all its a pretty idea that will never work in this era.

    12. I really with JT would go away. He pushes through the horrible power units we have now that have ruined competition, skyrocketed costs and worst of all sound horrible for the paying fans. Then he literally said society would never accept a V10 or a non-hybrid because of fuel consumption blah blah blah… then hops on his private jet and flies from race to race burning more fuel then F1 uses in a season.

      Cars that look like flip flops and sound like vacuum cleaners… the dude has single-handedly ruined F1.

    13. Honda’s failure to be competitive has probably scared away any manufacturers that had considered entering F1. Imagine trying to convince a board of directors to spend millions of dollars developing an engine that will be an embarrassment for the first two years and average at best for years after that.
      Add to that the thought that the investment in said engine will be in an obsolete technology and it’s not hard to see why no one else is entering F1.
      I believe that we are at a technological crossroads at the moment where one would have to decide whether they want to invest in petrol based technology, electrical or some other non-petrol technology and no one wants to be the one investing in Betamax (I’ve clearly dated myself with that reference).

      1. It’s worth noting that it’s not just Honda. Renault also has failed to produce a PU that has been close to those that Mercedesand Ferrari have.

        So if you were a potential PU manufacturer, how much would you want to risk given there’s been a 50% failure rate with the 4 current manufacturers.

      2. “Betamax” – lol.

    14. All the “World Engine” is likely to do is to increase the cost of engines in other series, and thus ensure there are fewer suppliers of engines to high-level series. This is because F1 would not accept reducing specifications to those used in the likes of WEC or F2, and those series cannot realistically pay for a F1 engine’s costs. There’ll still be one engine better than the rest, and it’ll still be a dominant factor in F1 due to the emphasis on striaghtline speeds and DRS-based overtakes.

    15. Steps to get more engine manufacturers into f1.
      1. Change engine regs in other series so they must use f1 drivetrains or something very similar
      2. Watch as engine costs escalate in those series.
      3. Privateers are gone and couple of big engine manufacturers rule that series.
      4. Due to poor attendance the series is cancelled after some years
      5. Hope that some of those manufacturers that now have those expensive but unused f1 ready engines get into f1.

      It has worked before…

    16. Then use the F1 P, detuned accordingly, in F2 and GP3. Sorted.

      Up and coming drivers are schooled on the same powertrain, but get a bump in output power for each step on the ladder they take.

      Manufacturers have more ability to test revisions on track. They’ll also sell more of them and generally at a lower price to benefit all. Cap the prices outside F1 (as that’s where all the real development gets paid for anyway) and you’ve got a great ROI.

      1. A world engine will still be very expensive to design and expensive to build.
        Its cheaper to build a cheap engine for lower formula than to detune an expensive engine.
        It is easy to see costs savings in ones head and find a different reality from the engine manufacturers.

        1. Cheap if they use the current PU. Not much development needed, it already exists….

          1. How many millions per year does average f2 and gp3 team have to spend on engines. How many engineers can they hire just to take care of the engine? Current f1 teams don’t even run the hybrid engine cars in public events because of their complexity and cost. There are lots of v10 and v8 f1 cars that privately owned and ran or ran by one of the big teams like ferrari. But no hybrid engine cars.

            F1 engines f2 or gp3 would be massive cost increase. It would be massive cost increase in any sport. You can not just take modern f1 engine make it cheaply.

    17. My opinion is that the mindset of “Let’s create regulations specifically to attract” manufacturers is the problem. They apply these regulations tailored to what these manufacturers want and then interested manufacturers choose not to participate, and now F1 looks silly.
      WEC has the same goal with the hypercar class, but at least there the resemblance to GT cars could win manufacturers over.

    18. There’s no need for a “World engine”. As I understand it, WEC is a fuel flow restricted racing series, just like F1. I believe they both use the same maximum fuel flow rate of 100 kg/h, so why can’t an F1 team use a WEC engine? The energy in the fuel is what makes the power in the engine. So burning fuel at that rate in an F1 engine will produce the same amount of heat as burning that fuel at that rate in a WEC engine. If teams want to use a 2.4 litre V4 engine, then why can’t they?

    19. There is no need of a World Engine, and no need of attracting new manufactures.

    20. This is what i think…do like motogp that has a set amount of fuel and manufacturers can build whatever configuration they want up to 1000cc…F1 should drop the mandated engine configuration and throw the door open and just limit fuel amount, say hybrid max cc at 1600 cc like now, turbo at 2000 or so and naturally aspirated at 3500 with no limit on revs…the fuel limit will allow for innovation which would probably bring in new players, oh and allow a lot more real testing so the honda debacle isn’t repeated. How anyone expects a new engine builder to be sble to catch up when they can only test couple times s year and then have to go racing..the FIA have caused all thd current issues in F1 with their dumbass agenda of fuel economy, road relevance, greenie appeasement etc then they try to “fix” what they have broken with more rules…they have made F1 more expensive in their attempts to make it more affordable, morons they are!

      1. I think this would certainly yield some interesting designs, but on track action would suffer terribly. If you think the performance gap is big now, with this scheme it would be several laps difference between teams by the end of races. F1 has to toe the line between a driving challenge and an engineering challenge.

    21. Get rid of manufacturers and bring back real race teams and not these greedy corporations.

    22. Quite honestly the days of the Climax and DFV engines are probably what most of the British teams yearn for- at least something like that these days.

    23. Ah, the Coventry Climax days… Was great for 1959-60 but the FIA in its infinite wisdom changed the formula from 2.5 L. to just 1.5 L. – and not turbocharged…! I wonder why the FIA thought the pinnacle of world racing would work with a 1.5 L. engine…?
      Was it because the vanquished (1958-60) Ferrari had a suitable engine standing by…? And the Brits did not…?
      Guess who won the Championships in 1961… But it didn’t last long… Hohoh…
      [NB: to the Tifosi… Please do not regard this as anything more than a lighthearted objective comment…]

    24. When he said F1 will never go electric, he buried F1. The whole worlds going electric. He has been the most do nothing FIA leader and now he’s doing nothing to make sure F1 stays a romantic memory of his past. It’s over. Horse racing is over. Time to usher in the car. Been a good run though. Like the watchmakers of the past, their engineering skills will never be matched. So yeah, it’s hard to see it go. Man and machines have proved their era magnificently. The next ‘world engine’ is not an engine at all. It’s a motor. We’re still in motorsports at least.

    25. He’s probably right, a single engine might attract more teams. It would also likely cause me to stop following the sport. I watch F1 because it’s the pinnacle of motorsport, not because it’s the “Chrysler New Yorker” of the k-car platform that is FIA.

      I’ve always thought F1 needs to decide if it’s an engineering challenge or a driver challenge. Trying to be both will always result in a good compromise, and a good compromise leaves everyone unhappy! There will always be this turmoil trying to sit on the fence like this. If you want it to be an engineering challenge, you’ve got to open the regs up wide to allow manufacturers to innovate within a budget. If you want a driver challenge, then it’s got to be a spec series.

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