The whole debate about whether F1 should or should not switch to turbocharged four-cylinder engines in 2013 was prompted by Audi, Adrian Newey has revealed – with the German manufacturer subsequently 'deciding that they won't bother after all, thank you very much' and leaving the existing competitors 'lumbered' with an unwanted powerplant.
Last week, the F1 Commission finally shelved plans to go down the unpopular, 12,000rpm four-cylinder route – following stern objections from the sport's influential commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone and the majority of teams – in favour of delaying the introduction of the new engine formula by a year until 2014, and plumping for noisier, 14,000-16,000rpm V6 units instead [see separate story – click here
]. Newey contends that it could all have been so easily avoided.
Red Bull Racing's chief technology officer claims that the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) announced the four-cylinder plan last December after Audi had hinted that such a move would perhaps be conducive to its joining the grand prix grid – but distinctly mixed signals from the Ingolstadt marque since then, allied to the general tide of opposition, ultimately led to the proposal being abandoned. Newey admits that the dimensions of a V6 engine are much more manageable.
“The initial decision from the engine working group was for a four-cylinder turbo to be introduced for 2013,” the Englishman explained. “The big driver behind that was Audi. They said they would come into the sport if there was a four-cylinder turbo, and that's what everyone agreed in order to get Audi in. They subsequently decided that they won't bother after all, thank you very much, and we were lumbered with a four-cylinder turbo.
“Certainly from an engineering point-of-view, a four-cylinder turbo is not a nice engine to install – you've basically got to put a space frame around it; you can't make it properly structural. A racing V6 is a much nicer engine to package. That will now be the 2014 engine.”