Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has slated F1's new four-cylinder engine regulations for 2013 and beyond as 'a bit pathetic' – and has called upon his rival team bosses to back his efforts to delay the 1.6-litre, turbocharged unit's introduction.
The current 2.4-litre V8 powerplants are to be replaced by the smaller variants under a resolution made by the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) last month [see separate story – click here
], in the interests of trying to make the sport 'greener' and as part of the top flight's ongoing cost-cutting drive.
F1 engines were reduced from ten cylinders to eight for the beginning of the 2006 world championship campaign – but for what is supposed to be the pinnacle of international motor racing, di Montezemolo argues that the latest move is a step too far and of little genuine relevance to the automotive industry.
“I can't get used to it,” the Italian bemoaned, speaking to German publication Auto Motor und Sport
and characteristically making no bones about his vehement opposition to the changes. “It's not for a sport in which we once had twelve-cylinder engines. Four cylinders is not F1. We are not going to build four-cylinder engines for our road cars just because we now need them for F1, [and] for the top class of racing it sounds a bit pathetic.
“Why couldn't we have a V6 turbo? We shouldn't confuse saving money with being 'cheap' – there are other ways of reaching the goals the FIA wants us to in order to save money.
“Ferrari will not stand in the way, but we are saying very clearly that we are not happy about it. When there's even the smallest chance of avoiding the four cylinders, I want to go for it. If there is the slightest possibility to delay the four-cylinder [introduction], I will look for it – [but] we need unity amongst all teams.”
One potential ally for Ferrari in its quest to reverse the FIA's decision is traditional arch-rival Mercedes-Benz, whose motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug is well aware that the end of the V8 period may also herald a changing of the competitive guard, given that it is the Stuttgart manufacturer whose engine is presently widely-regarded as the benchmark in the sport.
“It would have been better to extend the V8 era,” opined the German. “That is a low-cost engine.”
Even F1's hugely influential commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone and former triple world champion Niki Lauda have expressed their concerns that with the exhaust note diluted, so too will be the entertainment factor.
“I don't care whether it's 1.6 or 1.8-litre engines – I'm worried about the sound,” Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Ecclestone told motorline.cc
. “If we lose the sound of F1, we will be losing a great deal.”
“I am worried about the sound, which in F1 has been so unique,” echoed Lauda. “Hopefully, there will be more than a faint hum.”
Any such qualms, however, have been dismissed by both Cosworth business manager Mark Gallagher – who believes the four-cylinder engines will be able to be designed at a cost of only €30 million – and FIA President Jean Todt.
“I can guarantee that the F1 cars for the 2013 season will be very exciting and produce a great sound,” assured the Frenchman. “The development of the industry in the past years has been bringing safety and environmental awareness to the foreground, and the car manufacturers have made great progress in both areas.
“With the new rules, the FIA wants to send a strong message about F1. It is the pinnacle of motorsport, and the smaller engine is very important for the manufacturers.”