The proposed change in F1 engine regulations planned for 2013 is facing unexpected opposition from the manufacturers, who claim that the switch would be contrary to the sport's desire to cut costs.
The FIA had announced that turbo-charged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engines would be introduced to replace the current V8 units in an effort to raise F1's environmental reputation but, despite what appeared to be initial acceptance from the various engine builders, the plan appears to facing a rebellion after Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Cosworth estimated that development costs for the new powerplants would approach €100m, with the price being passed on to customer teams. Cosworth has reportedly said that it's new-era engine could be developed €20m, which would have to be passed on to its teams, which include minnows HRT and Virgin.
The claims clearly differ from those being bandied about at the time that revisions to the regulations were first being mooted.
“As far as the 2013 engine is concerned, I think that F1 does need to move on and show that it is moving in a fuel-efficiency age,” McLaren chief engineer Tim Goss said back in May, “So we fully support all the moves that the Engines Working Group and FOTA are doing to push F1 in that direction. The concept of a 2.4-litre V8 is getting a little bit dated now and I think the move to turbo-charged engines with KERS is the right thing to do.
“Obviously F1 does need to maintain itself in terms of being at the pinnacle of motorsport and engine performance. Somehow we've got to come up with an engine formula that is associated with high performance but also with fuel efficiency and modern technology. Overall I think we're moving in the right direction and we fully support it.”
Online publication GPWeek
confirmed last month that the latest breed of engines would indeed be 1.6-litre four-cylinder units complete with turbos, but also revealed that they would run at about 10,000rpm, produce around 650bhp at three-bar boost and feature both an improved KERS system and a 'fuel mass flow rate limit' in order to address environmental concerns. Additionally, teams would be limited to five engines per driver, rather than the current eight.
The 2013 formula would also see ground effect reintroduced, with greater downforce being generated by the rear diffuser, while heat recovery technology could be introduced to accompany the current KERS systems.
The manufacturers, however, have now said that they would prefer to delay the introduction of the four-cylinder idea by at least a couple of years, but FIA president Jean Todt insists that there are no plans to defer its arrival, although a decision will only be taken on a timetable at December's World Motor Sport Council meeting.
F1's teams association, meanwhile, has confirmed that it intends to help move the sport in a greener direction, and it remains to be seen what stance it takes in the latest situation.
“In addition, the FIA and FOTA are already working together to tailor the 2013 technical regulations to ensuring that all engines and powertrains used in F1 by that date will showcase, and provide a platform for the ongoing development of, technologies designed to enhance fuel efficiency," it revealed in a statement earlier this season.