Mercedes AMG engine boss Andy Cowell says it is probably far easier now for a new engine manufacturer to come into Formula One, than it was under the old V8 or V10 era, and that there is no “unobtainium there... you don't need to travel to Mars.”
The V6 Hybrid power units came in two years ago, with Mercedes setting the standard. Ferrari has since caught up, but Renault continued to struggle in 2015, and so too did Honda in its first year back.
Cowell has predicted that both Renault and Honda could make 'big, big gains' in 2016
and that despite their struggles and the dominance of Mercedes, the sport is still attractive for new manufacturers – and crucially more so than it has been in the recent past.
“Because the V10s and V8s were so specialist – 20,000rpm and 19,000rpm naturally aspirated engines - they were very peculiar to Formula One. There's not even any other motor sport categories doing that and definitely not road cars,” Cowell replied, when asked if the likelihood of a new manufacturer coming in fades the longer the regulations stay the same.
“I think we do still learn from Daimler and those initial links that we set up with Daimler on the technology [when we started developing the V6 turbo], those communications are still in place and the dialogue is two way.
“We are still picking up pieces of technology and we are feeding back bits of technology. As long as that is in place, Formula One with this set of regulations should be interesting to works manufacturers. I think that's the thing that pulls them in.”
“Does it get to the point where they think that would be great but ask what is needed to win – because there is no point in entering if you don't win? Well, there's no unobtainium in there [the engine], you don't need to travel to Mars,” he stressed.
“The steels that are used are used in aerospace and automotive, the aluminiums are used in aerospace and automotive, the fastners are not remarkable, the shapes are evolved but they are all shapes that other people can come up with. There aren't any magic magnets in there, they are all magnets that you can read about in Wikipedia and source from three or four manufacturers around the world.
“It's all doable, but do you need to get set up with a group of people that have got the right ambition and attitude? And do you need four or five dynos and connections with the right suppliers? Yes, you do. But it's not impossible and it's easier to do than in the V8 or V10 era.
“If we go back to 2000 the regulations fitted on one page and now they are on 18 pages, and that's actually prescribing a lot of it. 20 years ago you used to spend days figuring out what the bore side should be or how many cylinders you should have, but now it's in the regs.
“So I think it's easier - and it would be great if it happened.”