F1: FIA confirms alternative budget engine plans for 2017
The FIA has formally announced its proposal for a low budget "client" engine to be introduced in 2017.
This means Formula One could run with two different types of power units, which will somehow have to be balanced by an equivalency formula.
This would allow teams to have a much cheaper alternative to the manufacturer-supplied hybrid V6s. Although the specification has not been confirmed, the FIA wants to have a 2.2-liter twin turbo V6, which is in essence, similar to the current IndyCar engine.
The FIA is planning to launch a tender process, to which the likes of Cosworth and Ilmor could respond.
Today’s announcement is a direct result of a recent meeting between the engine manufacturers and the FIA in Geneva, where the subject of a cap on supply costs to customers was discussed again. This following a unanimous agreement at the last strategy group meeting that such a plan would be imposed.
However, Ferrari used the veto on rule changes, which was given to them by the FIA many years ago. The FIA, with the full support of Bernie Ecclestone, has used that rejection of a cut in supply costs to find a way to introduce the new engine concept.
"The FIA, in agreement with FOM, suggested the principle of setting a maximum price for engine and gear box for client teams at the last Strategy Group meeting," the governing body said. "These measures were put to the vote and adopted with a large majority.
"However, Ferrari S.p.A. decided to go against this and exercise the right of veto long recognised under agreements governing F1. In the interest of the Championship, the FIA has decided not to legally challenge Ferrari S.p.A.’s use of its right of veto."
In explaining what happens next, the FIA used very careful language to emphasize this is an idea that has to go through the proper processes.
"Therefore the FIA will initiate a consultation with all stakeholders regarding the possible introduction of a client engine, which will be available as of 2017," the governing body said. "Following this consultation a call for tenders for this client engine, the cost of which would be much lower than the current power unit, could be undertaken.
"Supported by FOM, the FIA will continue in its efforts to ensure the sustained long-term development of the Championship and look for solutions enabling it to achieve this. It asks all of the teams to make a positive contribution to the success of this approach through proposals and initiatives in the interest of the Championship and its continuation over the long term."
Ecclestone is fully behind the idea and is convinced it will work.
"We used to have people running turbo engine and people running normally aspirated," Ecclestone said in Austin. "It wasn’t a two-tier system. It was a choice. Whatever it is, I anticipate they will be able to continue running their engines and others running the other engines."
Ecclestone also feels an equivalency formula is possible to even out the playing field between manufacturer and client engines.
"Obviously it can be done, yes," Ecclestone said. "Maybe we will have refuelling again for those that want it.
"If people have an engine that is super efficient, they won’t want to obviously. They don’t have to."
The existing manufacturers are obviously sceptical about the idea, and it remains to be seen whether ultimately the scheme is a ploy to force them to lower the supply prices of their current engines.