Red Bull's Helmut Marko says Mercedes will continue to be the dominant force in F1 under the current regulations as its engine is a 'masterpiece', but believes a new concept will be launched for 2018.
As Red Bull continues to negotiate a new deal for the 2016 season having originally attempted to replace its Renault power units with Mercedes, Ferrari or Honda options, it appears likely the four-time title winning team will run an unbranded version of what it currently has, albeit with its own developments.
Though Marko refuses to comment further on this beyond the suggestion a decision will ultimately be made this weekend, it remains his view that F1 needs to consider a new engine concept going forward as the current model is unsustainable in terms of cost and complexity.
Furthermore, he is not convinced Mercedes' grip on the series under the current regulations will loosen unless the engine formula is changed substantially, though recent talk suggests an overhaul for 2018. Indeed, while he says Mercedes deserve credit for creating a 'masterpiece', Marko believes it doesn't allow F1 to progress and change is necessary.
“Mercedes' position will be as dominant as it has been in the last two years, and that is why everybody is talking about a new concept - because the existing Mercedes engine is a masterpiece of technical engineering,” he told the official F1 website.
“But I don't know if it [the current concept] is the right thing for Formula One: it is too complicated, too expensive and not noisy enough. We are talking about $30 million on average for such an engine. And if they open up the development and the others could catch up - that would increase the costs even further.
“I can understand [why Mercedes won't want change], but when it goes to the substance of the whole sport, then you have to start thinking in a different way. There simply must be engines available for everybody. And that is not the case. That is why this independent engine is so important.”
Though a meeting of the Strategy Group appeared to have put a halt on the 'independent engine' idea whilst manufacturers come together to discuss their own proposal to reduce costs and improve availability, Marko is confident the concept – which Red Bull is publically in favour of – will come through as a stop-gap before a new engine formula altogether is launched in 2018.
“We had a meeting Saturday morning and it looks like that there will be a new type of engine in 2018, which first of all has to be available for anybody who wants it, has 1000 horsepower or more, is much cheaper, and comes with much less electronics so that the driver again is a force that matters - and not the engineers at the pit wall.
“If it comes true what [FIA President] Jean Todt promised, that if there is no supply from the big teams he will go for the independent engine."