The FIA has confirmed Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda are to develop a proposal together to address engine cost and supply issues after the F1 Commission voted against the governing body's 'alternative engine' plans.
The four power unit manufacturers have expressed their opposition to plans by the FIA and FOM to tender for an independent engine supplier, which will offer a cheaper alternative engine at a different, less 'complicated' specification from 2017 for cash-strapped independent teams.
Prompted by the FIA's desire to cut costs – of which the current generation V6 Hybrid power units are main driver -, it proved the predominant topic of conversation at the most recent Strategy Group, with all four manufacturers seeking to come together to propose their own alternatives.
With the F1 Commission subsequently voting 'not to pursue the option' at this stage, the FIA will allow the manufacturers to collaborate on devising a proposal that will address the following:
- Guarantee the supply of Power Units to teams
- Lower the cost of Power Units to customer teams
- Simplify the technical specifications of the Power Units
- Improve the noise
Despite the rejection, the FIA says the alternative engine plans are still on the table and could be reassessed if the manufacturers' proposal – which must be presented by 15th January 2016 – is not satisfactory.
Beyond drastically slashing the price of the power units, the FIA is seeking to ensure no team is left without a power unit supply – thus avoiding a Red Bull-style engine crisis – and ensuring a minimum supply is met by all manufacturers, a move considered a direct response to McLaren preventing Honda from expanding its supply for 2016.
Though the proposal has been shelved until January, the FIA confirmed four parties expressed an interest in securing the tender to supply the alternative customer engine.
The first meeting between the FIA and the engine manufacturers will take place at this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.