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F1 to switch to V6 engines – but not until 2014

22 June 2011

Following a meeting of the F1 Commission near Heathrow today (Wednesday), it has finally been resolved that – pending approval from the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) – the sport will switch from V8 power to V6 single-turbos from 2014, a year later than the current era had been due to end.

FIA President Jean Todt has spent months pushing for the introduction of turbocharged, four-cylinder 1.6-litre units from 2013 onwards, advocating the need for F1 to be more sustainable and environmentally accountable. The Frenchman's plans were persistently opposed, however, by the sport's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone – who made little secret of his distaste for the so-called 'greener' hybrid technology – and manufacturers, with only Renault entirely on-board.

Although Todt had vowed to stand firm, it appears the ex-Ferrari team principal has now bowed to the mounting pressure – not least from his former employer, which largely echoed Ecclestone's views in arguing that his proposals bore no relevance to their road-going cars – with the confirmation that a compromise has been reached to delay the advent of the new engine formula until 2014, and to plump for 1.6-litre V6s rather than four-cylinder powerplants to replace the current gas-guzzling, 2.4-litre normally-aspirated V8s.

Greater energy recovery and storage and significantly improved fuel efficiency will be key features of the new V6s, the BBC reports, with KERS power-boost systems set to double in capacity to 120kw from 2013. Meanwhile, maximum revs will be reduced from 18,000rpm to 12,000rpm, and outright power is set to remain in the region of 750bhp so as not to harm performance. There is also the possibility to develop and introduce even more advanced 'compound' turbos in the years to come.

There will be a series of resource restrictions with a view to keeping costs strictly in-check and ensuring parity between the different manufacturers as much as possible, whilst the development of hybrid technology for road cars is aimed at banishing F1's reputation for wastefulness – fashioned by decades of profligacy and excess – in order to boost its appeal to potential sponsors.

Renault had threatened to withdraw from the sport were the new rules not to come into force, whilst Mercedes stressed that such a wholesale change would not be achievable by 2013 – and it is hoped that today's resolution is something of a happy medium. The WMSC is now expected to ratify the agreed changes to the regulations originally pushed through back in December via a fax vote on Monday.

One interesting point raised by The Daily Telegraph's F1 correspondent Tom Cary before today's reunion was that 'after backing down over the introduction of Pirelli tyres for this season – when he wanted Michelin – and then over Bahrain, Todt's credibility could be seriously undermined if he backs down a third time'. Seemingly, he just has.


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