Despite the clear opposition of commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone and misgivings on the part of some of the sport's manufacturers, the FIA has announced that F1 engines will from 2013 onwards be four-cylinder, 1.6-litre turbocharged units.
Ecclestone has made no bones about his distaste for the self-styled 'greener' formula, denigrating it as 'nothing in the world to do with F1' and claiming that rather, it 'should be in saloon car racing', revealing that he fears 'these changes are going to be terribly costly' as the sport 'will lose a big audience and I'm quite sure we'll lose TV' given that the noise of the current V8 powerplants is one of the top flight's greatest pulls [see separate story – click here
Habitually outspoken Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has concurred that 'for the top class of racing, it sounds a bit pathetic', slating the four-cylinder turbo route as 'not for a sport in which we once had twelve-cylinder engines' and dismissing it as irrelevant with regards to road car crossover [see separate story – click here
] – one of the FIA's key arguments in its favour.
Mercedes-Benz and Renault have similarly questioned the radical departure, and there was even talk that the current V8s could be permitted to continue alongside the new turbos for a year, but FIA President Jean Todt remained adamant that 'we will not change', and the publication of the approved technical regulations for 2013 following today's meeting of the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in Barcelona demonstrates that the Frenchman has solidly stood his ground.
'Power units will be four cylinders, 1.6-litre with high-pressure gasoline injection up to 500 bar with a maximum of 12,000rpm, with extensive energy management and energy recovery systems (now known as ERS), reflecting the decision taken by the WMSC in December 2010,' read an official statement released by the governing body.
Whilst the aerodynamic regulations will be broadly the same as those in F1 2011, with modifications aimed at improving efficiency and – allied to the powertrain rules – bringing about a 35 per cent reduction in fuel consumption, notable other decisions include a limit on transmissions (gear ratios, number of gearboxes) in order to decrease costs, a limit on the height of the tip of the nose to ensure better compatibility in a T-bone style accident and a maximum overall car weight of 660kg.
'In consultation with the main stakeholders, and following the outcome of this consultation, a fax vote by the WMSC could be considered by 30 June latest to redefine the implementation date of these technical regulations,' the statement concludes.