No going back on V6 plan, admits Renault
22 September 2012
Anyone hoping to convince F1's powers-that-be to rethink plans to move from the current V8 engine formula to a proposed turbocharged V6 from 2014 will have been disappointed to hear one of the sport's biggest suppliers admit that backtracking is unlikely.
Speaking to the media after the opening day of practice at the Singapore Grand Prix, Renault's Jean-Francois Caubet revealed that work on the future specification of engine was already well underway, not only at Viry-Chatillon, but also at Mercedes and Ferrari which, despite overtones from Cosworth and PURE, are expected to make up the bulk of the grid.
The shift in technology is the first to concern powerplants since 2006, when the current 2.4-litre V8s were introduced, and is designed to turn the focus onto improved fuel efficiency and the wider use of recoverable energy systems. FIA president Jean Todt is a prime mover behind the initiative, despite his opposing concerns about the cost of competing also being held by the smaller teams.
Renault currently supplies Lotus, Caterham, Red Bull and Williams with V8 engines, and Caubet expects a similar number of teams to remain in place in 2014, with Ferrari and Mercedes continuing to partner multiple operations.
"I think the V6 will be on the track for all the teams in two years," Caubet insisted, "I think Mercedes, Ferrari and us are all changing our dynos from V8s to V6s, so now it's impossible to make a change.
"For the teams, the strategy is to keep four teams and I don't know if it's possible to do more. I think that, if you want to have good reliability, good performance, you need to keep four teams, but if there will be a need for more, we don't want to close the door."
As well as concerns over the cost of switching to all-new V6 engines, the smaller teams may also have top contend with future rulebooks being devised by their more powerful rivals, amid suggestions that, from next year, the regulations will be decided by the six top teams as opposed to the F1 Commission.
"I think that we would like the stability to stay where it is, with all teams being represented at the F1 Commission," Force India's Bob Fearnley admitted, "I don't think there's any doubt about where we would like to be, but I think it's a much better balance when the teams are fully represented."
"I share the same view, obviously," Caterham owner Tony Fernandes agreed, "The key is that all of us have to find a way of standardising regulations and having less changes and less irregularities, but I think there is a danger that the six teams are hyper-competitive and sometimes things go on and on and on. I do think that there could be an imbalance here, but the key to me is not whether there are six teams or twelve teams or two teams, the key is to have simple regulations that won't have a tremendous amount of debate and we just will go racing."