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What have 10 years of F1’s V6 hybrid turbo era shown us? The naysayers were wrong

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Formula 1 fans got their first glimpse of the new generation of V6 hybrid turbo cars on this day 10 years ago.

But Force India, the first team to officially reveal an image of their new car, were somewhat coy about doing so, releasing only a rendering of their new VJM07 in profile. The team did not want to reveal the peculiar shape of its new nose, a side effect of the new regulations shared by almost every team.

Strange though these new appendages on most cars were, future iterations of the rules addressed them. But a more controversial change at the other end of the cars was here to stay.

Eight years after its last change in engine regulations, Formula 1 had another new formula. FIA president Jean Todt, who took charge in 2010, had pushed for the introduction of V6 hybrid turbo power units. F1 had introduced hybrid power to its engines as early as 2009, but the new engines were designed from the ground up to incorporate two advanced systems for recovering kinetic and heat energy – the MGU-H and MGU-K.

Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt, 2014
Ecclestone slated Todt’s engine formula
But the move from conventional V8 engines to V6 hybrid turbos was not without its detractors. Not least the person running the show at the time. F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone made plain his dislike. Time and again he went to the media with fresh quotes trashing his own championship in terms Gerald Ratner would have blanched at.

Chief among his objections was how much quieter the engines would become. And when it emerged Mercedes had produced by far the best power unit for the new rules, and mated it to a chassis which exploited its potential better than any other, his contempt peaked. “I’m sure the promoters will lose a big audience and I’m quite sure we’ll lose TV,” he warned.

But 10 years on, Ecclestone is long gone, and the V6 hybrid turbos remain. By the time they are replaced the rules will have been in place 12 years, account for over 250 grands prix.

Does that longevity prove the rules change was right all along? And how have the hybrid power units reshaped the sport over the last decade?

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The sheer complexity of the new power units prompted concerns of widespread reliability problems when they were introduced. Sure enough, not all teams were ready to run when testing began in late January 2014, and those who did completed precious few laps.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, 2014
Even Mercedes suffered reliability trouble
On the opening day of testing at the Jerez circuit in Spain, just eight cars circulated, only half of which registered lap counts in double digits. Between them all they covered less than 100 laps.

But although the new power units were inevitably less reliable than the long-used engines they replaced, fears the season opener might see only a few cars stagger to the finish were unfounded. Of the 22 starters, 16 were still running at the finish.

Some manufacturers found it harder to achieve reliability with the new power units than others. Renault had problems from the outset, as did Honda, whose engines were first raced by McLaren in 2015.

In an effort to keep costs down, teams were given strict limits on how many examples of each different power unit part they could use over the course of a season. These rules remain, but the regulations which enforced them were originally much stricter.

A driver who took too many new parts could be given time penalties during the race under the original rules. These were eventually relaxed, and teams instead clocked up grid penalties of ludicrous sizes, topping out with Jenson Button’s 70-place grid drop at the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix.

By 2023, with power unit development frozen for the last two seasons, reliability has become less of a concern. However teams had the advantage of being permitted an extra power unit last year and the championship was two races shorter than planned. They will face a tougher test in 2024.

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The new power units were unquestionably a step backwards in performance in the short term. But, this being F1, that was clawed back swiftly: By 2016 lap times at Silverstone were back to what they had been at the end of the V8 era.

The development potential of the V6 hybrid turbos reduced and eventually stopped when engine specifications were frozen in 2021. But major changes in F1’s aerodynamic rules first helped teams unlock more performance (2017), then clipped the wings of their cars (2022).


Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Singapore, 2017
Ferrari got on terms with Mercedes but missed chances to win
Did the switch to V6 hybrid turbo power units put the kibosh on a competitive era of racing or merely replace one form of domination with another?

After all, the 2013 season ended with Red Bull reeling off nine consecutive grand prix victories as Sebastian Vettel coasted to his fourth world title in a row. On the face of it, hardly a peak era of competitiveness.

But two of those titles had come in gripping, down-to-the-wire title fights between Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso (and, in 2010, two other drivers). The 2013 season began with six races won by four different drivers and teams, and Red Bull’s domination of the final rounds was arguably aided by their rivals switching tack to focus on their new 2014 cars.

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Mercedes’ domination of the beginning of the V6 hybrid turbo era became clear when they cruised to victory in the season opening race by almost half a minute (and the closest car to the victorious Nico Rosberg was disqualified). Later one senior team member admitted they detuned their engines in qualifying because they feared the rules would be changed to neuter their advantage if they revealed its full extent.

Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Interlagos, 2021
Hamilton and Verstappen fought hard for 2021 title
Even so the prospect of them facing serious competition in the near future seemed remote. Happily, Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at least fought for the title to the final race, and did again two years later.

It took further rules changes to bring the competition within range of Mercedes, beginning with an overhaul of the aerodynamic regulations in 2017. Vettel pushed Hamilton hard for the title then and the year after, but in 2019 Ferrari squandered chance after chance to win. That winter the FIA took a close look at the Ferrari engine, reached a deeply contentious private settlement, and suddenly the red cars were nowhere – two seasons passed without them winning a race.

In the meantime Honda’s power units finally came good. Red Bull and Max Verstappen wielded them superbly and in 2021 another rules change disrupted Mercedes’ start to the season and put the two on roughly level terms. An epic championship fight began, which ended in an unworthy and notorious finale.

In the meantime Liberty Media had replaced CVC as F1’s owners, and Ecclestone shown the door. For 2022 it introduced another shake-up of the aerodynamic regulations, targeted at closing up the field and aiding overtaking. Though that appears to have happened to some extent, Red Bull have proved largely immune to it, and their dominance of the past two seasons has outstripped what Mercedes achieved at the beginning of the V6 hybrid turbo era.


The first years of the V6 hybrid turbo era were those of the ‘big three’ teams – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull – versus the rest. Six years passed without a single other team winning a race.

Will Stevens, Caterham, Yas Marina, 2014
Caterham bowed out after one year of hybrid rules
This was not merely a consequence of the engine rules, but also a result of F1 paying a larger share of its prize money to those teams. The latter was addressed by Liberty Media and new regulations introduced to cap teams’ budgets and permit teams which finish lower in the championship to conduct more development work.

The evidence of 2022 and 2023 suggests this has been a less than total success. But thus far Liberty Media are sticking to their plan and not imposed knee-jerk rules changes in the hope of conjuring up some competition for the all-conquering Red Bull. The 2024 F1 season will indicate whether their confidence in their approach has worked, though the question of whether Red Bull were punished sufficiently for exceeding the budget cap in 2021 overshadows this debate.

But the new engines had pushed up the cost of competition and the smallest teams faced the added pressure of receiving little to no prize money. Only two of the three new teams which entered in 2010 had it as far as the new hybrid era, and during its first year Caterham ran out of money, appearing at the finale only after a fundraising campaign.

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The Marussia team suffered the agony of Jules Bianchi’s terrible crash at Suzuka that year, which lead to his death nine months later. The team continued, however, thanks to Bianchi’s breakthrough points score in Monaco which meant they ended 2014 ninth in the championship.

Esteban Ocon, Manor, Yas Marina, 2016
Manor’s exit left F1 with just 10 teams
However the arrival of promising newcomers Haas in 2016 saw the former Marussia team, now named Manor, slip to last place. The loss of income spelled the end for another team, leaving F1 down to just 10.

In the meantime many others have changed hands and identities, including Sauber (briefly Alfa Romeo, soon to be Audi), Force India (now Aston Martin) and Lotus (now Alpine). Williams changed hands too, though its name remains.

The least flattering measure of the V6 hybrid era’s success is the number of engine manufacturers it attracted thus far. However that is due to change from its next iteration in 2026.

Cosworth left F1 when the V6 hybrids arrived, leaving the series without an independent engine builder. While Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault all remained, only one newcomer appeared – Honda, in 2015. But after just five years, during which time they had gone from the back of the grid to race winners on course for championship success, they announced their departure once more.

But although the V6 hybrid turbo era initially failed to win over many new manufacturers, that looks set to change. In 2026 F1 will move to a V6 hybrid turbo without the MGU-H, but with a more powerful electric component. That, plus F1’s rising popularity, has persuaded Honda to return as a constructor, plus Audi with Sauber, and Ford in partnership with Red Bull. Porsche also expressed serious interest in joining and Cadillac is poised to do so as well from 2028, if F1 decides it can tolerate becoming an 11-team championship again.

On to the second era

Stefano Domenicali, Mohammed Bin Sulayem, Markus Duesmann, Oliver Hoffmann, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022
New F1 leadership has welcomed Audi and others for 2026
The V6 hybrid turbos arrived at a time when the FIA – but not Formula 1 – was realising it could not ignore the trend towards electrification. All-electric series Formula E arrived the same year, and other series have made similar moves or are planning to do the same, however belatedly.

It is tempting to argue that, on the strength of how few new car manufacturers came to F1 after 2014, the rules were too far ahead of their time. But how attractive was the sport as a whole to manufacturers at that time?

Ecclestone’s furious denunciations of the engine format were hardly likely to win newcomers over. Current CEO Stefano Domenicali cannot be accused of running his product down the same way.

Three further manufacturers are due to join the field in 2026, and a seventh is seeking to join them. This is a vindication of both F1’s power unit regulations and an endorsement of the job Liberty Media have done promoting it.

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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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60 comments on “What have 10 years of F1’s V6 hybrid turbo era shown us? The naysayers were wrong”

  1. 2014-2020 is the least competitive era in F1 history, the fact that from Massa at Silverstone 2015 to Giovinazzi at Singapore 2019, no team outside the big 3 even lead a single lap is a shocking statistic.

    There’s a few reasons why this era was so terrible, but fundamentally it comes down to this.

    1. Comical Differences in Budgets
    The gulf in spending power had never been higher than it was in this era. The money spent by Mercedes and Ferrari in particular was out of control. Meanwhile we saw several teams (Caterham and Marussia) fold, while other teams were very close. Force India, Lotus, and Sauber were all very close to bankruptcy at one point or another.

    F1 today is much healthier than it was in the past. Now with the budget cap, we frequently see a qualifying field spread of only 1 second. In the past, that was the gap between Mercedes and the rest.

    2. Unequal engine modes between teams
    The difference in engine quality in this time was shockingly bad, particularly in the early hybrid era. You needed a Mercedes or Ferrari to be competitive, and anyone misfortune enough to be stuck with Renault or Honda was doomed. Mercedes and Ferrari were very tactical about who they supplied engines to (not teams who could threaten them in any way), and even the teams they did supply, did not receive equal engine modes. Grosjean confirmed this after Spa 2015, when his Lotus car found another gear when Mercedes allowed their customer to use a special engine mode.

    Again, today F1 is in a much better state, with the engines all being reasonably close and FIA mandating equal engine modes for everyone.

    Long story short, the only two teams who had a fair crack at the sport in this time were Mercedes and Ferrari, no one else had a realistic shot at winning.

    While F1 today is far from perfect, only a fool could deny that it’s in a much healthier state than it was in the Mercedes dominance years.

    1. You missed Redbull out of the big spenders list. Dont be selective, name all.

      1. RB’s F1 team spent a comparable amount of money to Ferrari or Mercedes.
        But they have not developed the engine for themselves, and engine development costs were likely tremendous.
        Even the manufacturing cost per unit is high, many said that a power unit costs in the range of 10 million usd.
        So for this reason, not including the engine and other development related costs into the ones that count towards the cost cap, was quite half honest. But in F1 the teams and their backing manufacturers are quite involved into the rule and decision making, so this is what with they came up after their clash of political interests, and negotiations.

        Afterall, when we count costs maybe it would be more honest to include all (even from 3rd parties like fuel development from a sponsor), just to see how much money could have been spent on more grounded goals, like charity, education, and a bit more ordinary fields development likely yielding higher returns on a global/future proof scale a bit more regularly. And seeing these figures, fans could decide what is nice and ok for them. Afterall, efficiency is a very important aspect of engineering. But it looks like politicians, and finance people are having a bit too high self importance nowadays. Problem is they are selling products created by others at best.

        1. its all a scam to tax people in the end. the real climate perpetrators are the large factory owners who dump chemical waste and dont make things biodegradable.

          the cars were better during the days of refueling. and so was endurance racing before they were fuel restricted to keep them slower than f1 cars.

  2. The introduction of the V6 hybrid turbo era: We lost the sound of racing, the close racing (cars not able to follow each other well and DRS was needed) and the competitiveness (only one team dominated). Tire management within this total package became of such essence the flat out racing from start to finish disappeared and has become rather a chess game. Not convinced at all it was a move in the right direction.

    1. Close racing didn’t get lost in 2014, though, as that was already a thing long before, & DRS had already existed for three seasons, so zero correlation.

      1. Exactly, 2014 to 2016 had more overtakes on track than 2013 if I recall correctly. I actually really liked the 2016 cars and was slightly dissappointed with the 2017 rule changes.
        I think a lot of the issues like the weight of the cars and the huge tyres which make the cars look like they’re on rails stem from 2017 and haven’t been fixed since.

        1. Axel, in absolute numbers, 2013 technically had more overtaking than 2014 or 2015, but fewer than in 2016. However, what is also obvious from the data is that, from 2011 to 2013, overtaking rates had also been steadily declining, with 2014 and 2015 following the same pattern as 2011 to 2013.

          What the data shows is that, in 2010, the introduction of the ban on refuelling seems to have pushed overtaking rates up a bit. Added to that, the introduction of three additional teams increased the number of possible overtakes – as noted within this article, those teams then collapsed a couple of years later, having entered on the promise of a budget cap that never arrived.

          The 2011 season saw a major jump due to the switch to Pirelli’s tyres, as well as the introduction of DRS. You had an initial spike due to the randomness that introduced, but after that you then saw a pretty consistent trend of decreasing overtaking rates as teams adapted to the new tyres and the impact that DRS had. It’s worth noting that overtaking races were skewed by a number of additional factors in that era too.

          The 2011 season’s figures were heavily inflated by the Turkish and Canadian GP’s that year, which saw abnormally high numbers of overtakes – the Turkish GP due to tyre degradation being extremely high, resulting in abnormally high numbers of pitstops, whilst the Canadian GP saw extreme variations in weather conditions.

          The 2012 season was somewhat inflated due to the randomness introduced by the early season Pirelli tyres – when Pirelli changed the construction later in the season and the tyre behaviour became more predictable, the overtaking rate in most races dropped off quite noticeably.

          The 2013 season also saw a similar trend – the initial compound of tyres introduced by Pirelli introduced more unpredictability in the opening races, but the high profile tyre failures in the British Grand Prix forced a change in construction that saw overtaking rates drop after that. Added to that, because the tyre failures in that race dropped several drivers back by a large number of places – which meant they were technically classified as having been overtaken – that race also helped inflate the overtaking statistics for that year.

          Even if the V8 era had continued into 2014 and 2015, you’d have probably still seen a similar trend of decreasing overtaking due to the increased predictability of the tyre behaviour – Pirelli was under a lot of pressure to produce more predictable tyres for 2014 – and the loss of the three new teams at the back, as well as teams developing strategies to counter the effect of DRS that made the system less effective.

    2. Ferdinand, seems to me that most of this thread has descended into an escapist fantasy about the past. Many of the people here who now sing the praises of the V8 era were the same people who were complaining at the time that everything sucked and that the sport was purer and better in another era before that.

      Just look at how people sing the praises of the 2012 season now in this thread, but back then we had people saying things such as “Can’t we get back to real racing rather than showbiz gimmicks?”, or they were “fed up of these silly gimmicks & all this artificial spicing up of the show”, or that they thought the sport was “a total joke” thanks to “the Pirelottery” (remember that particular meme kicking around the sport?). We also had the frequent moaning that there were “too many pay drivers” in the sport – let us not forget how much abuse was directed at figures like Maldonado or Petrov, who were frequently held up as figures to be mocked.

      So many of those other seasons had streams of complaints being made about them at the time too – for example, 2007 and 2008 saw people complain that “all these stupid winglets are ruining the racing because you can’t follow another car without losing so much performance”, or that “it’s boring seeing McLaren and Ferrari constantly dominating things” or “why do we have stupid tyre gimmicks?” and “why do we have stupid qualifying gimmicks” (the former referring to the requirement to change tyre compound during the race, whilst the latter referred to the requirement to qualify with your starting fuel load).

      Basically, this thread is demonstrating that one statement still holds true – fans have a strong tendency to romanticise the past and forget the things that they hated at the time, whilst tending to focus more on the negatives when it comes to more contemporary eras.

      1. José Lopes da Silva
        22nd January 2024, 21:35

        In fact, the sport was terminated in 1968 when that lad Chapman brought commercial brands for the first time, opening the way to kill national colors and tradition. That killed F1 for good.

    3. In 2014, the cars were also dreadful to look at, particularly the noses. The 2017 season improved the looks and, by then, I guess there was more acceptance of the V6.

    4. If the naysayers were wrong, 90% of the replies to Keith’s befuddling headline wouldn’t be disagreement.

      He is attributing success from the sport being taken over by more competent marketers and unanticipated windfall from Netflix to the hyrbids. What a silly conclusion.

    5. José Lopes da Silva
      22nd January 2024, 21:33

      Close racing was lost in 1996 when Hill complained he could not follow Berger in Hockenheim, buddy.

      1. Most of 2000-2013 had close championships, but OK…

        1. José Lopes da Silva
          23rd January 2024, 9:21

          «the close racing (cars not able to follow each other well and DRS was needed)»
          22nd January 2024, 8:22

  3. In 2021 the teams were converging on performance and potential. If that formula had been retained with a budget cap introduced we might well have had the best racing in modern times over the last two years.

    Instead we had a replay of 2014 and 2015 but with a different dominant car made worse as those years were without two drivers in that dominant team fighting it out.

    1. Not very well put at the end there. The years referred to at the end are 2022 and 2023.

      If Perez had lived up to expectations there may have been a Hamilton/Rosberg type rivalry to keep the interest levels up as a complement to the increasing raciness between elements of the chasing packs

    2. I agree and we’ve seen it before. Convergence needs time after introduction of new rules. F1 tends to come up with the next iteration just as the current one gets where it needs to be. And then the whole circus starts over again. Had they not introduced the new regulatory framework I am convinced we would have had some stellar racing over the last two years.

    3. You can’t say a replay of 2014. That season had a title battle

    4. Also this convergence of performance is a myth. The only reason that season was close (between 2 out of 4 drivers from 2 out of 10 teams) was because of rule changes that happend to hurt mercedes more.

      This convergence that is spoken of is a hilarious myth. Vettel won 9 straight races at the convergence point of the pre hybrid era. And in 2004 Michael Schumacher dominated before a rule change. Surprising how little people think and even more so that F1 themselves speak to fondly of this legend that is called convergence.

      They don’t have the spine to just nerf redbull like they did so many times to mercedes previously.

      That’s besides the point though. Convergence to a point that it greatly increases competition is a total myth.

      I’ll add that title deciders will be extremely rare going onwards regardless of competition due to the 28 gp’s worth of points on offer over a season.

      If F1 and the fans actually want competition then you need to move much further towards a spec series. And btw in indycar the teams still make many of their own parts.
      Also it’s not a free for all the top teams stay around the top most if the time. So in reality it wouldn’t be much different to F1 now but just a lot more competitive.

      It would also controll aerodynamics much better to keep the racing close. Eg 2022 cars soon lost their better ability to follower closer as the teams upgraded and added on downforce.

      F1 is a deadbeat on this topic of competition though unless the fans largely call for it. I dearly wish indy could see massive investment which would allow them to become a global series.

      What F1 trully need is a competitor with cars equally as fast if not then faster. Not hard to do with how heavy the current ones are. Then Relatively speced cars for close competition. And lastly na high revving cheaper engines to capture the minds and heart once more.

      Other than that a structure which doesn’t have the cooks making the decisions (teams) and competent leaders free from corporations and the need to appease automobile manufacturers.

      Note I said leaders. Not a group or shareholders or boardrooms. Leaders, who know how to be leaders. The prior just causes complications and stagnation.

      Goodbye F1.

  4. That competitiveness measure is embarrassing to see. Although that is not really the engine formula’s fault.

    The problem with the engine formula is that it is a technical marvel. Oft-stated as the most efficient automotive combustion engines ever.

    But technical marvels cost a lot of money to create and a lot of money to understand. And if you get a head start (like Mercedes did), you lock in an advantage that lasts several years.

    Only recently have the other manufacturers caught up. And catching up has required complete re-architecting of the engines. And questionable relationships with the rules. Yet Alpine are still down on power after a decade.

    The noise issue is irrelevant.

    Have the engines made the racing better? No.

    Has the tech trickled down to road cars? No. Too complicated at heart, and road cars have ended up moving to pure EV instead of highly-complicated hybrids.

    Realistically we could have stuck with a much simpler “hybridised” combustion engine and F1 would have been just as competitive and just as appealing to manufacturers. If not more so.

  5. V8s were so much better. Championships down to the last race in 06, 07, 08, 10, & 12, and the penultimate race in 09. We only had that in 16 and 21 under the V6s. I’m not counting the double points nonsense of 2014. We never had a period of dominance then like we did with Merc and RB now, sure RB won 4 on the bounce but in one of those years 7 different drivers won a race.


    2. but in one of those years 7 different drivers won a race.

      Primarily because of the gimmick tires that year which were so bad early on nobody knew how to get them in an operating window or how to stop them falling apart.

      They were in all honesty the worst tires I have ever seen used in any racing category.

      And the racing itself & way performances flip flopped around so dramatically with no way to read what was happening and no real story or fight that went from race to race made the whole thing feel like a series of individual races rather than an actual world championship.

      1. I do very much agree. Pirelli/designed to degrade tyres are at the top of my list with DRS of things F1 needs to rid itself of ASAP

        1. Exactly, we need racing tires not designed to degrade and to get rid of DRS

          1. And if I might add, we need to reduce weight and car dimensions by 10 to 20%

  6. This article lacks a proper conclusion. There’s nothing positive about the whole article until you reach the final paragraph in which it claims it’s been all worthy because 3 manufacturers are entering the sport. But why did it take so long to attract Audi, Ford and the like, then? because they changed the rules for the power units to make them simpler and cheaper.

    This hybrid V6 was way too complex, and hugely expensive, brought nothing but even more disparity between teams and FIA has been playing catch up every since, whereas the KERS assisted V8s were nimble, cheap, easy to run and made the whole field competitive.

    They forced road relevance into a sport which had little potential of it. The fact that part of the energy recovery system is being dropped because it’s a useless thing in the real world speaks of itself.

    1. Coventry Climax
      22nd January 2024, 11:35

      I fully agree with what you’re saying, with the exception of your last sentence.

      If you know that in the automotive industry skipping just one single screw of just 2 cents is done because of the total it makes over the total of cars produced, then any system designed to save even the tiniest amount of fuel makes a substantial difference when applied to all the cars ‘in the real world’. The problem with it, is that it isn’t found in all ‘road going’ cars, and not even in a substantial percentage of them. Would it help if it were? Would it make much of a difference? As a minimum, considering the urgence, at least it wouldn’t harm.
      In the end though, that’s not a technology issue, it’s a legislative issue, and that’s where the whole F1 road relevance thing goes wrong, F1 thinking they have an impact on the road going world.
      If anything, it’s the other way round: Hybrid wasn’t developped in or for F1, it was brought to F1 because and after it became more common in roadgoing cars, as a means to not immediately throw away all investment in construction, implementation and development in combustion engines as well as fueling infrastructure.
      In other words, buying time. Very real world.

      1. F1 itself is a technical excercise. The development in many diverse areas. I don’t think it necesarily needs to get fixed into a single topic because the real world is going that way. If they really wanted to make it relevant, they’d open up the rulebook and let them try their best to be more fuel efficient with less emissions. But they didn’t, they said: “we’re going to try to recover energy”. Why would any auto maker follow that when they were already thinking of selling pure EVs? they were already selling plug in hybrids. Even McLaren with the P1. Why go the heat-recovery way, then?

        Lessons learned in combustion chambers, fuels or whatever I’m sure rest in the minds of engineers worldwide, because the gains are real. But all the other auxiliary stuff didn’t, and that’s the most expensive part of the rule book. That’s what I mean with “forced road relevance”.

        1. Coventry Climax
          22nd January 2024, 16:48

          Oh, I agree, although in my opinion, it is not a technical exercise, but used to be a technical exercise.
          Opening up the rulebook is what I’ve been saying for ages already, along with rules that just say how much energy they are permitted to use. It’s only last year(!) they changed the word fuel to energy – and they claim to be on the forefront of development? That’s a downright laugh.
          F1 fixes their rules way too strict, way too specific, in the wrong area’s and for way too long periods. Had that not been the case, hybrid components would have been introduced much sooner.

          As far as heat recovery goes though, there’s a lot of sense in that, as the maximum theroretically achievable thermodynamic efficiency of the otto cycle (gasoline combustion) engine is around 40%, with the vast majority of the remaining 60% to be wasted as heat. The recuperating they do now, is from the 40% (not that they even ever get that far) and relatively minor. So there’s a lot to gain from the remaining 60%.
          The concern for the new regulations are that the engine will have to run just and only in order to replenish the batteries, which makes the hybrid claim utter nonsense.
          And you’re right there; by the time F1 adapts to those new rules, the automotive world is already two steps further down the road. Pinnacle of motorsports my .

    2. @fer-no65 on the contrary, the V8 engines were extremely expensive to develop – it was only the combination of freezes on engine development and cost caps that made them look cheaper than they actually were.

      In subsequent years, the introduction of the freeze on engine development during the V8 era did bring down costs to some extent, although there were still a number of loopholes that meant they were only partially successful.

      However, the main reason they looked cheaper is because FIA subsequently introduced regulations that forced the major manufacturers to supply engines at a price that was below the cost of production.

      We know from Renault Sport that, in the latter part of the V8 era, it cost them around €120 million to produce and maintain engines for their customers, but they only made €60 million in fees from their customers because the FIA restricted the maximum price they could charge to about 50% of the actual cost of production.

      The FIA was relying on the manufacturers being prepared to write off the losses made on the engine contracts as an advertising expense. However, the high cost of development and the ongoing guaranteed losses also made it a complete dead end for new engine manufacturers and ensured that there would be no new manufacturers.

  7. Coventry Climax
    22nd January 2024, 11:03

    What have 10 years of F1’s V6 hybrid turbo era shown us? The naysayers were wrong.

    Despite my first question being ‘Wrong about what?’, that subtitle immediately rubs me the wrong way.

    Am I a naysayer because I don’t like the direction F1 has been taking since they became aware their gas guzzling image had to change?
    That’s also an immediate explanation of where I stand: It’s quite pointless to change an image if it’s not substantiated by real figures. Sheer, shallow selling power seems to do the trick here, nothing else.
    Put F1’s overall, total energy usage over the years in a graph – that’s what shows the real story.

    Am I a naysayer because, as an engineer, I know that hybrid, ingenious as it may be, is an intermediate solution at best, aimed solely at improving the efficiency of an engine that in the end, still burns fuel and emits an array of pollutants and greenhouse gasses?

    In 2011, there had been a weight increase of 20 kg, due to the arrival of KERS. Then in 2014 there was another car weight increase of 48 kg. 68 kg total. With the weight limit of 620 in 2010, that’s an increase of 11%, which in F1 terms, is gigantic.
    Up to 2023, we’ve seen a further, whopping weight increase of a 105(!) kg.
    Of those, 7 are accounted for by the arrival of the HALO, and 11 kg by the arrival of the wider tyres and 18 inch rims.
    Overall, compared to 2010 (I consider KERS to be the first introduction of hybrid) the car weight has gone up from 620 to 798, a difference of 178 kg, nearly 30%.
    Effectively, weight-wise, F1 has gone from a single seater series to being a triple seater series. And that’s still being quite generous on how much the average person weighs.
    Racing wise, that’s desastrous to how a car handles, brakes and accelerates, as well as to how much energy it consumes doing so.

    Does it make me a naysayer when I therefor say hybrid has killed the true spirit of racing cars?
    Does it make me a naysayer when I think that hybrid does a lot of good when applied to the vast numbers of cars the general public drive, but is just another drop in the ocean where F1 is concerned, especially given the total amount of energy it takes to haul the entire circus across the world for 24 events anually?

    Strange though these new appendages on most cars were, future iterations of the rules addressed them. But a more controversial change at the other end of the cars was here to stay.

    In other words, the FiA chose to go ‘form over function’ with their rules. That’s A) nothing to do with going hybrid, and B) nothing to do with F1 and the pinnacle of motorsports. It has everything to do with selling your soul though – unless your soul consists of dollars only, ofcourse.

    For 2026 onwards, the engine design rules are restricted such that F1 have ‘attracted’ three engine companies. Effectively, there’s no room left to get it as wrong as Honda did when they entered in 2015, and to me, with that rule set, the word ‘competition’ takes on a whole new meaning.

    I’m in the difficult position that I care about the environment as well as motorracing. The thing I could very well do without though, is commercial croc.

    Does it make me a naysayer when I think the increase in restrictive rules kills/killed the constructors championship that F1 has always been, and the introduction of hybrid has effectively killed the nimble racecar?

    Call me a naysayer then, I don’t mind.

    1. The fuel burned by the F1 cars is completely irrelevant compared to the fuel burned by travel to and from circuits by the fans, teams and their equipment, etc, etc. They would save much more fuel by going back to the V10 engines, but planning subsequent events closer together.

      The claims about technology going back into road cars is greenwashing as well. The very expensive materials, supertight tolerances and handcrafted parts have little to no relevance to road cars. Pretty much always, R&D spent on the thing you actually want to improve works way, way better than spending it on optimizing something else with way different limitations and requirements.

      1. Coventry Climax
        23rd January 2024, 11:19

        I struggle between options here, Ludewig; I can’t place your comment.
        By the sound of it, you seem to disagree with what I’m saying, yet on the other hand you also seem to repeat most of what I said.

  8. What an odd conclusion.

    The V6 Turbo Hybrid PUs are too heavy, too expensive, too complex, too irrelevant, too conservative on advancing synthetic fuels, and have in short been a total failure for F1. The series has never been more uncompetitive, and last year we got the public admission that the ‘engine freeze’ has been coupled with a Balance of Performance equalization scheme that, coupled with one-make tyres and extremely restrictive chassis rules to safeguard the 2022 design, effectively renders F1 a semi-spec series.

    F1 started the V6 Turbo Hybrid era with only Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes interested. It added Honda, which proved an embarrassing failure for years, and effectively lost Renault, which is now only obligatorily supplying only its own underfunded team that they don’t even run under their own name anymore.

    1. MichaelN,
      The conclusion is a superficial interpretation of statistics. Simply pointing out an increase from 3 to 7 manufacturers doesn’t automatically signify success. Manufacturers are joining not due to the PU rules but because of F1’s unprecedented growth on social media, particularly since Liberty took over.

      This growth has been exponential due to Ecclestone’s stubbornness with regard to expanding the sport on social media, adhering to the traditional TV marketing model. Once the content began flowing on social media, there was a notable surge in both followers and interest.

      If F1 and the FIA are truly confident in the attractiveness of their product to manufacturers, why freeze PU development, eliminate the MGU-H, and marginalize the ICE ? F1 stopped being a sport after its acquisition by private equity (CVC in 2005) that its sole raison d’etre is profit maximization through cost-cutting measures, revenue maximization, and the eventual sale of the business for substantial gains.

      F1 peaked in 2005, and from that point onward it was only going downhill.

  9. Hybrids were brought in too early, and their introduction had disastrous consequences lasting years. We’re in a much better position now, but I don’t think it vindicates the timing and implementation.

    1. Coventry Climax
      22nd January 2024, 12:00

      They didn’t bring in Hybrid too early; F1 keep the door shut for too long and for too long periods.

      Had the engine formula been free for teams to decide on, but instead the total energy usage rules tightened -which is the ultimate idea anyway- hybrid had likely found it’s way into F1 much sooner and at a much more manageable and cost effective rate. We’d have seen much more interesting and diverse solutions come, with the most successful -read competitive- remaining, and the least effective ones go and disappear again.
      Much more interesting, much more effective, much more forefront of technology and much more road relevant.

  10. What are the top 10 Most Popular Sports In The World:

    Field Hockey
    Table Tennis

    Were the rules in any of these sports have been changed with such ferocity and with so much restrictions as in F1?
    So we can compare Pele with Maradona, Gretzky with Ovechkin etc.
    How we can compare Fangio with Stewart, Senna etc.?

    So the very essence of F1 are just technical regulations?
    Of course there were and are geniuses like Chapman, Newey etc. who could overcome the draconian restrictions but the question is what is the epitome of F1 – a competition of designers who did overcome stupid limitations or the pinnacle of motorsport? What was wrong when F1 allowed 3 liter atmospheric engines against 1.5 turbos back in 80’s? Why there ain’t no more valkyrie screams of V12’s and rolling thunder of V10’s?
    Last time I’ve visited F1 weekend I overslept the beginning of early morning (about 9 AM) start of F3 practice on Friday and when I was rushing to the track I’ve heard the noise of F3 engines 3 kilometers from the track and the locals were disgrunted that it was too loud! And then while sitting on the grandstand I could hear the tyre screeching of F1 cars!

    1. Funny. Field Hockey has had many rule changes over the years, making the sport a lot faster in play.

      F1 has lost a big chunck of entertainment with the lacking sound department. With V10’s or V12’s, we would have less street tracks as well as a positive by product. ;)

      1. Thanks, I’m not a big connosieur of a field hockey which IMHO is a bit strange but if they reached top 3 by changing the rules, it’s great! But compare it to a pile of F1 rulebooks from a few last decades.

    2. ‘How we can compare Fangio with Stewart, Senna etc.?”

      How would you want to compare them?? Huh??
      Would you want Senna to drive Fangio’s 1950s car in the 1980s and 90s, with the same tyres, the same fuel, racing on the same tracks repaved (because no asphalt lasts 40 years) with the same kind of asphalt using the same technology?? Only then you could compare their lap times. And you couldn’t accurately compare them in any other scenario.

      We can’t compare 2 athletes from different eras separated by 40 years in any sport of the world. Just so you realize that. You can’t.

      And no, F1 is not a real sport. It’s an engineering competition.

    3. Firstly, you can’t compare athletes from different eras in any sport. Think about how much tennis changed over the years with the surfaces, the raquets and stuff. Technical developments occur everywhere, the way players train in football changed massively. Even the technology in the boots, ball, shirts, field… everything.

      The rulebook didn’t change much in those sports because, at the end of it, technology isn’t the biggest part. It is in motorsport. It’s naive to think regulations shouldn’t change. Specially considering safety. And specially considering we need manufacturers for the sport to exist. If it wasn’t cost effective to an extent, or if you didn’t level the playing field somewhow, they’d leave and you’d have Can-Am in the 70s… an extinct series.

    4. Coventry Climax
      22nd January 2024, 16:59

      Table tennis changed from 21 points in a game to just 11. They kept the two points difference and three games per match for the ‘lesser’ competition, but high up there’s 7 games per match, which makes the change, well, pretty pointless. Another change is the ball diameter changed from 38 to 40, on the argument it is better visible on TV. Since tabletennis is hardly broadcast at all in the western word anyway, that change too, seems pretty pointless.

      1. Why does that remind me of the switch to 18-inch F1 tyres?!

  11. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    22nd January 2024, 11:58

    These engines have been awful for the sport. May as well bring back the V8’s.

  12. I just wanted to say that I don’t find the hybrid engine nearly as detrimental to the state of current F1 as the 2017 rules change to bigger, heavier cars. In 2017 – 2019 you could pretty much predict the top six before the race began. In those ‘dreadful’ years of 2014 and 2015, ten drivers took a podium. Probably not as exciting as 2005-2012 but that was a time of great change after the Schumacher domination.

    1. Interesting perspective, I might actually agree. Certainly the 2017 rules seem to have done as was promised, make the cars faster, but at the expense of quite a bit else, and the extra weight has stuck even in the completely new 2021 regulations.

  13. Does that longevity prove the rules change was right all along?

    I’ll never forget the 2018 Spanish GP presser when all the news was of new engine regulations for 2021 without the MGU-H and i was really surprised to see Tanabe-San argue for it given all the issues Honda had.

    At the time I don’t think anyone would have predicted what was to come. If the heat generator were dropped, we would have missed arguably the best F1 season of all time.

    So from that perspective, I’d agree with the premise of the article, I’m really glad F1 did stick with them.

  14. There’s two sides to the F1 hybrid engine ‘debate’ – one side bases their opinion on the (arguably excellent, by necessity) technical achievement that is the current hybrid engine, while the other simply asks what they’ve actually done for the competition and the series as a whole.
    And that’s really the point, isn’t it – F1 isn’t just an engineering challenge, that engineering is developed explicitly for the purpose of putting on a racing series and entertaining motorsport enthusiasts.

    Perhaps an even better question would be: If F1 hadn’t gone hybrid, would it really have mattered? Would anyone really be upset?
    And what would F1 be today if it hadn’t taken that path?

    Perhaps they should have required teams to run cleaner, sustainable liquid fuels 10 years ago instead of ordering them to bolt a bunch of electrics and batteries on just to guzzle a little bit less fossil fuel.
    Then they could have gone hunting for more fuel efficiency…

  15. The engines are absolutely a failure and Alpine are still not on par with the others in terms of power and reliability.

    The development costs, the complexity that a manufacturer like Honda had to go through to make a decent engine and costing billions of pounds is simply not it.

    Ferrari had to use illegal tricks to be competitive and their 2022 and 2023 Power Units are still not perfectly reliable.

    Mercedes are the only winners from this era as they got the regulations right and if I had to believe many reports even earlier to get a headstart over others and maintained that headstart legally as late as 2021.

    The engines are soulless and ensured that basically only one team and driver could win from 14 to 20. In many of those years (14,16 and definitely 18) RB had the chassis to fight but no useful engine. Ferrari was underpowered in 2017 and in 18 they were using some tricks which finally exposed itself in 19 which tells how hard it was with these engines even for someone like Ferrari.

    The budget cap and the over simplification of engines is the reason why other manufacturers are joining and not because the hybrid era was a success.

  16. Good to hear from Gerald Ratner again.

  17. Right….. Everything is lovely since the hybrid era began.

  18. I find it hard to gauge if the V6T-Hybrid era has had a net positive or negative affect on F1.

    Admittedly, I was never a big fan of the V8s. They were a pale imitation to the V10s.
    To me, the V6T-Hybrids at least had something new and different to them.
    And personally, I enjoy watching the engineering challenge set to the teams and manufacturers.

    But there were so many other factors playing at the strings of F1, to say if this one element had purely a good or bad effect.
    Especially with the changing of the guard with F1’s commercial ownership.

    I feel the V6T-Hybrid era did help lay bare a lot of the foundational problems with F1 and its competitors.

    Did the more expensive engines cause the demise of the Caterham and Manor?
    It certainly didn’t help.
    But those teams were pretty much doomed from the moment they entered F1.
    And they weren’t the only teams in trouble, (such as watching Williams slump down to the back of the field, again).
    Highlighting a far bigger issue F1 had with sustainability of teams. And its only after the changes to F1’s business model with its teams that a new lease of optimism has been allowed to grow in the sport.
    To the point, not only have manufacturers agreed to enter the sport, but teams have also been able to turn down potential manufacturers (Porsche).

    Speaking of, would McLaren have had their flaws exposed to them?
    Forced to learn the hard way (in the aftermath of their Honda breakup) that they weren’t the powerhouse they thought they were. And are still rebuilding to this day.

    As for the major rule changes upsetting perpormance convergence and opening the door to Mercedes dominance:
    Yes, 2012 was a memorable season. But let’s not forget 2013 was a Vettel year, winning 9 races in a row, 13 wins in total.
    Which is 2 wins more than Lewis achieved in 2014.
    So what’s to say continuing with the V8 era wouldn’t have led to just more Red Bull dominance.

    Admittedly, constructors-wise 2014 onwards was a rout. And the Hamilton-Bottas years left much to be desired.

    In a way, its not the greatest thing to ever happen to F1, but maybe F1 is moving in a healthier direction from the lessons learned?
    But at the same time, it wouldn’t have been achieved without the new owners and outlook to F1.

    So net positive or negative?
    Six of one, half a dozen of the other…

    1. Underneath a lot of this and other takes is that the engines are just noise. Literally and figuratively.

      The sport is currently about downforce efficiency, which is completely roadcar irrelevant.

      Nothing else matters until downforce is greatly diminished. Fluid finds a way to get around what humans try to specify. Making a good airplane is hard to begin with. Trying to makes rules to have upside down airplanes compete with each other on a budget and be entertaining? Yeah, not going so well.

    2. Some really good points in there Ninja Badger

  19. Let´s be honest, it sound like #$@% and the DRS killed overtaking. F1 last great season was 2009.

  20. I still remember Brazil 2008, when that race was the definition and the F1s were real Formula 1 cars, with big engines and there was no need for any device for any driver to overtake. I remember seeing Ayrton driving and taking the most out of impossible cars. That was the real F1. The trend now is going each and every year more oriented to the showtime than the real competition. Seems like the showbiz of other sports like soccer is getting it’s grip to what used to be a great sport and now it’s become a great show.

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