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Engine dispute threatens F1 schism

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Andrew Benson | 15:58 UK time, Monday, 11 June 2012

Seven different winners from the first seven grands prix, an intensely competitive and wide-open championship battle, unpredictable races. On the surface, all is well with Formula 1. Behind the scenes, though, there is ferment.

At its heart is the planned introduction in 2014 of new rules, including new, energy-efficient, turbo-charged engines. The debate about whether this is wise or even possible in the current global financial climate has the potential to tear Formula 1 apart.

The new engines are being pushed strongly by governing body the FIA and have the support of the key manufacturers in Formula 1. But there are fears they will be much more expensive than the current 2.4-litre V8s and that the teams - the engine manufacturers' customers to a large degree - will not be able to afford them.

The engines have a powerful enemy - F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been against them from the start. He describes the arguments behind adopting them - which can be read in detail here - as "PR" and thinks they should be dropped.

He lost the first battle - they were formally adopted last year as part of the 2014 technical regulations, which also feature major chassis changes - but is still fighting to kill them off.

In that context, the recent formation of a group representing the interests of the F1 circuits should be seen as a transparent attempt by Ecclestone to bring more weight to the argument to scrap the engines.

What has developed is a classic impasse.

Bernie Ecclestone is working away behind the scenes to stop the new engines. Photo: Getty

F1 is in theory committed to the new engines. Renault and Mercedes want them to happen, and Ferrari dismiss rumours they would prefer them to be dropped by saying they will happen. Whether independent Cosworth, which supplies lowly Marussia and HRT, will be able to afford to build one is unclear.

But the teams not directly supported by engine manufacturers have not yet been told how much the new engines will cost, and fear it will be much more than the five million euros they currently pay annually.

Meanwhile, Ecclestone is working away behind the scenes to stop them. He has got former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore to come up with a 'GP1' set of rules, which include - among other things - continuing with the current engines.

The threat, clearly, is that he will take the commercial rights holders and the circuits with him (and possibly many of the teams), giving the FIA the choice to drop the engines or lose the substance of its championship.

But if that happened, Renault, for one, would almost certainly drop F1, and so might well Mercedes. So who would supply the engines to the new championship? And it would take a brave team to join any breakaway series.

On the other hand, if the FIA presses ahead and the teams cannot afford the new engines - there are rumours they could be as much as four times the price of the current V8s - where will all the cars come from in the FIA F1 world championship?

As the chief executive of the Sauber team, Monisha Kaltenborn, puts it: "If we go back to the days when engines were so much more expensive, I wonder how many teams could afford that. And F1 with four teams wouldn't be very exciting."

The manufacturers, though, believe dropping the new engines would be a mistake - as would delaying them by a further year (their introduction was already pushed back from 2013 as part of negotiations last year).

For them - and particularly for Mercedes and Renault - the new small-capacity turbos with significant energy recovery systems are in line with the way the road-car business is going. Without them, there would be no justification for a continued involvement in F1.

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn says: "We're committed to a new engine programme, it's progressing, we've been able to justify the budgets to our board and we don't want to see a deferment or a delay in that new engine.

"It sends a very bad message back if Formula 1 keeps changing its direction on things that are so fundamental, which need so much investment to make work. I think the new engine is very exciting."

Brawn adds that the future sustainability of the sport depends on moving with the times.

"We're going to be running around on two-thirds of the fuel that we're running on now with, we think, comparable power outputs," he says.

"We've got to change the engine at some stage. We will become irrelevant with the engine if we don't look to change.

"The world's changing and I think the new engine is a far more relevant engine for F1 for the future.

"If we're going to get new manufacturers into F1, which I think is a good thing, then why will they come in to build an antique V8 engine? They won't.

"They will only come in with this new engine, so we want to attract manufacturers back into F1 and this new engine is very important (in doing that)."

But the sustainability argument has a counter-point, as detailed by Marussia chief executive officer Graeme Lowdon.

"The teams do understand the direction the FIA is going with the new engines and people do generally support it," he says.

"We're happy to see technology go in that direction, but that has to be secondary to the sustainability of the sport."

The backdrop to that statement is that times are tough for all but the very biggest teams in F1. While the top four are all pretty much financially secure, there are concerns to one degree or another for the other eight.

The latest development in the saga came at last weekend's Canadian GP, when Mercedes vice-president of motorsport Norbert Haug said: "It's absolutely clear if you introduce a new engine that it will cost more in the beginning but I think we can achieve comparable spending over a five-year period and that has to be the target."

This was news to most customer teams - but even that might not be enough to end the argument. As Lowdon puts it: "The challenge for most businesses is cash-flow." In other words, many teams don't have the money to pay higher up-front costs, even if they come down later.

Talks are continuing behind the scenes, but as for what the solution to the conundrum might be, Lowdon voices the current situation best: "I have absolutely no idea."

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's not controversy. It's sensationalism. Benson could sensationalise an egg and spoon race, its his speciality. He'll be on something else next time, equally as sensationalist. He should really be working for a tabloid but I fear the headline writing would be a creative step too far for the bloke. The guff under the headline would be no problem for him though.

    Listen, Bernie's involved. What I know about Bernie Ecclestone is that if Bernie's involved, just let it roll and there will be a compromise in the end or some kind of deal. To suggest that this will "rip F1 apart" is ridiculous at this early stage, and he's even managed to re-visit the age old and very boring issue of a breakaway series (yhea that old chestnut again, I thought we'd said goodbye to the days of an empty threat to breakaway but apparently Benson still likes to keep that one tucked away in his locker).

    There are too many futures, and too much money locked up in F1 for there not to be a solution found somewhere along the line. Thats to be expected. What is also to be expected is that between now and then, Benson will be rubbing his hands at the prospect of writing yet more over the top articles at the license payers expense. It's like I've said before, give his job to Garry Anderson, he at least knows what he's talking about, and as an experienced and older person, wont be prone to the odd excitable over the top statements that we are subjected to from this guy.

  • Comment number 3.

    P.S I've noted Benson has changed his profile, from having had a "hot and cold" relationship with F1, to now being under its spell for 17 years, so not only is he a sensationalist, he's also a revisionist. I guess the F1 purists did'nt like being dictated to by a confessed part time fan. Get Garry in. A full time expert.

  • Comment number 4.

    Nothing new about this, it was reported months ago and you can look on the FIA website at the 2014 regulations to see what exactly has been proposed.

    Just as big as the engine changes are, the changes to the aerodynamics of the cars will be just as important, they'll look a bit more like cars from the 70's than cars from the 2000's.

    I think the aim is to make the cars 5 seconds a lap slower, but keep roughly the same power out put, around 750bhp.

    The F1 designers and engineers are amongst the best in the world, and yet over the past few years, due to the regulations, they've all had to come up with cars that look virtually identical. Would F1 not be just as exciting if the shackles were taken off the designers (within reason).

    Forget the turbo's, go back to the V12 that were pumping out near enough 1000bhp and give the cars a proper look with aerodynamics that don't look like they've been thought up by a 5 year old with a broken ruler.

  • Comment number 5.

    @2 actually I'd be very interested in reading a blog by Gary Anderson. I've been very impressed with how good he's been at predicting the strategies etc.

    Makes an interesting change to have a pundit who actually tells you something you don't already know.

  • Comment number 6.

    @5
    In all fairness though, he does look like Rab C Nesbitt. And when he gets his marker pen out and A4 picture, you do put your head in your hands.

  • Comment number 7.

    Indeed another sensationalist story from Benson. I'm very tired of his input, so much so that normally I'd avoid his scribblings, shot from the hip. Shame I stumbled across this one, as its just more of the same drivel.

  • Comment number 8.

    @6 I know what you mean, the presentation needs to be smartened up especially when you compare it to the highly polished operation of the competitor channel but the content of what he's saying is very good and informative.

  • Comment number 9.

    Why not allow both engines, as it was in the mid-80s where you could have a large atmo or a small turbo? The field soon gravitated to the best option.

    Of course, they then banned the best option, so maybe that bit could be handled better...

  • Comment number 10.

    @8
    That's it exactly, Ant Davidson on the Ipad makes some good points (yes, Thompson is just there for eye candy) and it looks professional. Anderson, good points or not, looks very amateurish.

  • Comment number 11.

    @ 3 Riggadon

    Have you also noticed he removed the part where it said something along the lines of "I've been to over 15 races in 20 years" or some such......

  • Comment number 12.

    http://www.fia.com/en-GB/sport/regulations/Pages/FIAFormulaOneWorldChampionship.aspx

    There is the link to where the regulations are on the FIA website, as I said, they have been up there for a while, since July last year in fact, so this article is what, 11 months late?

  • Comment number 13.

    I don't see how Bernie will get his way and to hold on to the current V8 format. The manufacturers would lose interest and the sport would no longer have the investment and halo effect they bring. Any breakup could potentially create a downward spiral that would consign whatever is left behind to obscurity.

    My guess is F1 may lose a couple of the smaller teams (and Cosworth with them) as it would be hard to imagine how Marussia or HRT could afford to triple or quadruple their engine budget even for a couple of seasons (save for a pay driver who brought 10–15M Euros a season to the table).

    A hybrid petrol-electric V6 turbo-charged powertrain wouldn't put this F1 fan off of the sport – far from it. I can't wait to see/hear the change. It's technological progress. The engine may be different, but it's still about the best drivers in the most advanced machinery competing to win.

  • Comment number 14.

    When the 1.5 litre twin turbo Brabham BMW won the championship in 1983. BMW found that old weathered engine blocks lasted longer than freshly cast ones, turning out a reputed 640 hp ! Albeit not with road pump fuel, and the failure rate was rather high which might be a problem given the current engine rules.
    Logic would suggest that if these are the new rules then the manufacturers can offset their costs by selling their engines to customers, although it sounds as if they want to pass on all their costs to their customers, in which case that leaves Cosworth supplying 18 cars which would offset their costs hugely and take us back to the hey days of the seventies !

  • Comment number 15.

    Seriously, I spent 4 hours discussing this at a FOTA forum well over a year ago, with Ross Brawn and Graham Lowdon. Such a non story, Ross and Graham had virtually the same view at the forum....

  • Comment number 16.

    For those criticizing Andrew's latest article, I don't see much wrong with it. At least it doesn't contain the usual "senior insider" quotes that are usually the opposite of the truth and it also doesn't contain the usual slander campaign against Michael Schumacher.

    I just hope these new engines sound as good as the old ones. As much as I don't like Ecclestone if it wasn't for him Jean Todt would probably have F1 changing to silent battery powered cars because it sends out the right message to environmentalists which Todt is overly concerned with!!

    Well it's finally happened, because of the joint TV deal the viewer stats are in free fall. http://www.f1revs.com/2012/06/bbc-sky-canadian-gp-viewing-figures.html

  • Comment number 17.

    I think the new engines will be a good thing for F1, as Ross Brawn says -

    ''We're going to be running around on two-thirds of the fuel that we're running on now with, we think, comparable power outputs," he says.

    "We've got to change the engine at some stage. We will become irrelevant with the engine if we don't look to change.''

    I remember a discussion on this very matter on the internet show #theflyinglap with @PeterDWindsor. Of course the engines won't sound as good as the old days, we even lost that after the regulation changes that came in for 2006, when the sport went to V8s. But I'm sure they will still have a significant sound to them as F1 engines normally do, we will have to wait and, well hear.

    As for the technical aspect, in terms of emissions and promoting the sport in a world where the environment is becoming ever more important, as well as the direction in which manufacturers are taking there cars into the future, then it's the right thing for F1 to do.

    Yes I would love V10s back and +20,000rpm, but then again, that is now a distant past, and F1 always should move forwards, as well as looking after the sport in a financial sense as well as the commercial.

    As for the Cosworth teams, will F1 really miss them?

    ''The challenge for most businesses is cash-flow'' says Graham Lowdon. What it does do for the new teams is shake it up again, when they are still trying to find their feet with the current regulations. But maybe a change would be good for them, because it just isn't working for new teams coming in to F1. They'll just have to find a way to afford it.

    There are so many issues you could go into about why we should have this engine or that engine, cost cap this or that.

    It always gets sorted out in the end, there will still be all the teams, maybe 1 or 2 might slip off, another might get taken over. I don't believe there will be this 'F1 Schism'. The sport threatened to that few years back, it's just the F1 playground merry go round.

    As long as the power is there, the teams, the drivers and all the battles, and the odd occasional intense inter team battle, F1 should still be fantastic.

    But when I go to a race, I still want to be deafened by the sound of those engines.

  • Comment number 18.

    @17
    Should F1 cars not be designed to go as fast as possible for 100% of the race distance though?
    Instead of their performance being shackled by the regulations and the drivers forced to drive within themselves?
    Brundle once said, F1 is a sprint from start to finish, it isn't like that anymore.

  • Comment number 19.

    @18 I would love to see the designers and engineers set free, for the most recent edition of Gran Turismo Reb Bull F1 were approached to design a F1 prototype without restriction. The mathmaticians calculated in could lap Suzuka in less than 1m 30s and Monza in under 1m! The only problem would be ensuring the drivers were capable of operating under much higher g forces!

  • Comment number 20.

    @19
    Yeah the Red Bull X1? I liked the video of 'virtual' Seb giving you a brief description of it, takes age to get though!
    Had a fan underneath it to suck it to the road, covered wheels for better aero, and a fighter jet canopy, oh and it was good for over 300mph!
    That vs the little daewoo matiz's in the first race is laughable!

  • Comment number 21.

    @20
    haha yeah using it in the earlier races did seem pointless. There was an F1 car that used the fan system in 70's I think it was but it was so fast it was banned very quickly. Thats the main difference between modern and old F1, in the 70's and 80's the regs said what you couldnt use, now it stipulates every minute part so there is less room for innovation. Shame really

  • Comment number 22.

    Was it a Lotus that had a double chassis as well?
    Remember seeing it go up the hill at Goodwood last year.
    That's what the regulations do these days, seem to punish new ideas, and they are moving ever closer to a 'one size fits all' type of car, and no one wants to see F1 become like A1 GP!

    If you want innovation, look at the Nissan Delta Wing that's taking part in Le Mans this year, on the Top gear page they've got an article about its first proper run out.

    Maybe some of the F1 teams should do that, enter an F1 car into Le Mans and make one exactly how they'd want, just don't run it at night obviously!

  • Comment number 23.

    Without wanting to turn this article into another Jenson debate I would like to just point out that after the microscope that was brought out when Lewis had his woes last year and Benson put blog after blog about it.

    It does make me smile to see Benson choosing this as a topic given the obvious talking point of Jensons current form.

    There, I've said it and lets just leave it at that.

  • Comment number 24.

    As we all know the oil is running out and the v6 turbos will be more efficient than the curent v8s, the change will have to happen, f1 has no choice. Fair enough its going to be expensive, but what will happen when th oil runs out eventually, all motorsports will have to run alternative fuels like hydrogen or biofuel at least. with the v6 turbos, f1 could at least save more fuel than it is at moment and keep the petrol powered f1 on for longer. its that phrase "short term pain, long term gain".

    all of you fans hating benson for liking button, every one has a favourite driver, now just stop having a go at benson.

  • Comment number 25.

    @18 Typical_English_No8

    For me it was best when they re fueled the cars, each stint was a sprint so to speak, and the driver could really push his tyres. Right now, they can't really push to the maximum because they worry about tyre degradation. It's become more of a chess game. You can say design the cars to go as fast as possible, but then there has always been regulations to slow them down for safety reasons. I'm all for cars going fast as possible, but for me that would be bring back fuel stops, because the cars work so much better on lower fuel, you can really work the tyres. The engines are still putting out good power, even though they are limited to 18,000rpm.

  • Comment number 26.

    @22
    I agree, I think that with 10 years F1 will basically be A1 GP especially with Mercedes employing Gernam drivers and McLaren English drivers. If there were a couple of decent italian drivers Im pretty sure ferrari would snap at least one of them up as well!

  • Comment number 27.

    @25
    The problem with refueling was that as all the cars were running with low(ish) fuel levels there was not a lot of performance differencial so the faster cars would qualify at the front (unless a team/driver went for a very low fuel level) and stay there. Having banned refueling means that the performance of the cars changes throughout the race which has lead to more overtakes/cars battling for position. There is definitely an issue with the tyres this year however

  • Comment number 28.

    @25
    When I say, 'design them to go as fast as possible' I'm talking more of fully using the engine power for more of the time, and having an aero package that works across all the circuits, for example, will we see a lap record being broken by the cars of 2012? Probably not because of a lack of downforce and they have less power than the cars pre 2006. I'm not saying do away with the regulations, but during the first half of the decade, the cars were getting faster year on year, and then the regulations where changed to slow them down, i.e. grooved tyres, one set of tyres for the race (which was dangerous at times!), starting the race with the fuel level used in qualifying etc.
    For example how many times are the cars actually topping 200mph these days? Minus Monza and Spa? I'm not saying have cars that can do 220mph down the first straight at places like Albert Park, but they are being 'neutered' for want of a better word!

    @26
    With that in mind, and the way the sports going, I was interested to see what the teams came up with when they threatened the break away series a few years ago. There isn't really enough of difference between the cars, squint and they all look the same.

  • Comment number 29.

    You are all missing the point. For me Formula 1 is more of a sport for the engineers rather than the drivers as history has shown that the biggest factor in determining speed is the car and not the driver. The engine in the Formula 1 car is the only part of the car that is from a bygone era. If Bernie has any sense, which he does, he would set up a new championship with the power plants being anything other than petrol fuelled. Hydrogen cells would have Honda queuing to sign up and electrical would have other major manufacturers of batteries all excited. What is wrong with a McLaren Sony or a Ferrari Phillips? That would give the car manufacturers a serious kick up the back side to start delivering the technology our planet needs and deserves. It takes a visionary to write history and I believe Bernie could be the man.

  • Comment number 30.

    What I would like to see is instead of rigid rules about the engines that there only be:
    1. A Maximum power output rule
    2. A torque limit rule
    3. Limited number of engines per season rule
    4. Must be petrol

    Those rules might need refining, but that is the principle behind them. So if one team prefers a twin turbo V6 and someone else uses a supercharged straight 8 it won't matter so long as power output is the same and they produce no more than the maximum amount of torque that would be good. Although I would personally prefer heading back to the V10 era and save fuel by setting out the calendar logically.

  • Comment number 31.

    @27 the_pony_tail_of_andy_carroll

    Yes absolutely, I was commenting about how the cars could sprint to the finish, If I was a driver that's how I'd like it.
    In terms of the over all show for overtaking and bringing other teams into the mix, this year is working really well.

    @28 Typical_English_No8

    Yes the cars each year you always saw a significant gain in lap times, that's what they tried to stop and have. I enjoyed those years, it was great, phenomenal. You can see many lap records held by the 2004-2005 cars. I agree they have been clamped down now, but when it's done for safety what can you do?

  • Comment number 32.

    i'm not sure if there is a fuel limit each race/weekend/season but if there isn't, put one in so each team gets X amount . then over the next few years reduce X. that will force more efficient engines. if there is just start reducing it.

  • Comment number 33.

    @ 16.
    The reason viewing figures are dropping is because (in my humble opinion, which I'm allowed to have), viewers are pretty fed up with the "racing" they see.

    I turned off after 30 laps of the Canadian GP because it was tedious and utterly boring yet again - no combat, no chancy manoeuvres, no heroics... I was half tempted to not bother at all after Vettel got pole y e t a g a i n ....... yawn.

    What's the point of looking at cars going round the track at anything other than full throttle and on the edge? And most of the time they are hand held all the way around! (Engine mode 1, plan B, look after your tyres etc etc). As and when they do get free rein to charge, overtaking is a simple matter because they can simply open up their wing and slide on past. Not to mention the KERS boost...

    If F1 is "all about the way of the future on the road", then do away with the movable rear wing, do away with KERS, do away with pit lane comms - none of these technologies are or ever will be available for us normal drivers. Bring the racing back to racing, take the props and aids to overtaking.

  • Comment number 34.

    "32. At 13:45 12th Jun 2012, David Metcalfe wrote:

    i'm not sure if there is a fuel limit each race/weekend/season but if there isn't, put one in so each team gets X amount . then over the next few years reduce X. that will force more efficient engines. if there is just start reducing it."

    While from a purely technical point of view that would be fantastic and something I'd love to see, the costs for each team would be astronomical.

  • Comment number 35.

    Well as much as we'd all like to see a gloves off no holes barred F1 the rules do rightly (in my opinion) get altered to stop someone running away with it.

    Think back to the groaning not so long ago in recent memory with Redbulls smashing the competition in qualifying and leading from start to finish. Go back further and think of the Ferrari dominance with Michael Schumacher. It too them a while to nueter the performance of the Ferrari with several rule changes but they go there in the end. Go back further to the Williams with the active suspension. That car was balistic compared to the competition.

    We all complained because it becomes boring, its not the same if your team (Ferrari in my case) is being creamed week in week out.

    Now to the topic at hand, the engines should be loud, no doubt about it, take the silencer(s) off any road car and you'll learn that very quickly. And as with any highly tuned road car or bike for that matter that revs to high numbers it will be high pitched and screaming. As high? Well no, the cars are more efficient, meaning more energy goes towards making power than making noise, which is after all a by product, but still a combustion engine with a turbo is not that efficient so expect noise.

    Should they change? Sure, I mean, it will cost more initially and may kill some of the little teams to start off with but we will get new teams and investors like always. F1 is not an unattractive market after all and we it wouldn't have to global backing and argument it does if it was.

    Anyways who wouldn't want to see a turbo engine running in qualifying spec with insane boost again. Rember 1500 hp in quali trim? We may not get that far, but you they'll try!

  • Comment number 36.

    I'm sure we are going to have to embrace fully electric engines before too long so just appreciate the petrol engines (in whatever form they may be) while you still can.

    Can someone tell me which teams get free engines? For instance I know McLaren still have a few years of freebies left on their contract from when they were the Merc works team.

    Also does Renault still have a works team now they no longer own (what is now) Lotus?

  • Comment number 37.

    @31
    Is safety behind it though? With the exception of the HANs device, the safety cell around the driver won't have changed that much over the recent years, and it isnt always down to the speed of the cars that makes any injury or hazard worse.
    Perez at Monaco last year for example, he wasn't travelling at top speed, it was the angle he went into the barrier that was the problem.
    If the FIA are slowing the cars down on the grounds of safety, would that not be admitting the ones used a few years ago were circulating at un safe speeds?
    F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, the rules at minute make it the pinnacle, just with a blunt point.

  • Comment number 38.

    @37 Yes they were UNSAFE in the past - that's why people got killed. If that's what you want, go watch something like cage fighting.

    The regulations are designed to restrict cars that humans can actually dive and are consequently safe for spectators. See http://www.f1technical.net/articles/20

    Nascar in the USA has similar limiting regulation such as the restrictor plate - see http://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/nascar/cup/columns/story?columnist=hinton_ed&id=4104348

  • Comment number 39.

    @36
    If electric/fuel cell engines are ever used (no doubt at some point they will be) each car would need a speaker system attached as I CANNOT imagine F1 without the engine soundtrack!

  • Comment number 40.

    @37
    The last driver to be killed in F1 was Senna in 1994.
    Im talking about the cars from the 2000's, not any early.
    Do try to keep up.

  • Comment number 41.

    *@38

  • Comment number 42.

    @38
    Most of the deaths in F1 were in the 50's, 60's and 70's and these were primarily down to poor medical access for crashed cars and poor safety mechanisms within the car. I saw a good documentary on F1 of this era and saw a driver burn to death in his overturned car whilst the marshalls did nothing but another driver tried to free the trapped driver. The speed involved abviously contributed but as F1 has got faster it has got significantly safer so there is no reason on H&S grounds to reduce the speed now!

  • Comment number 43.

    @42
    It's alright mate, he probably just wanted to mention cage fighting.
    That the documentary on the bbc?
    Didn't Jackie Stewart race with a spanner taped to his cockpit so if he crashed and needed to unhook his wheel he could do it himself?

  • Comment number 44.

    Just got moderated for using the 'r'-word for Benson, and by implication the whole Beeb. Grovel, grovel, lick, lick, so sorry, Auntie. I really promise not to look in a mirror for ages and ages. And if I do, I really, truly promise, cross my heart, not to tell you anything about what I see.

    But I think we are all beginning to agree that 'BBC journalist' is something of an oxymoron (legitimate discourse descriptor, you moderators, nothing to do with nasty words implying 'alternatively gifted' or anything like that...).

    Your problem, Mr Sir Lord Absolutely Not a Racist or Anything Else Unmentionable Benson is that F1 bloggers, with the exception of the inevitable couple of trolls (always good for a laugh anyway) are experts, engaged hobby-ists, people genuinely involved in the sport, sometimes to an extraordinary degree (not me - I'm just a hill-climber with a Merc-engined fatwheel who likes to dream along with Eyebrows and Our Quick Mechanical), who -dare I say it? know an awful lot more than you do. Old stories, old ideas, artificial controversy for amateurs, dumb coverage by people just filling positions while they wait for the mainline cookery programmes. or some regional cabbages and Morris dancing coverage, to notice their potential and get down to some real broadcasting.

  • Comment number 45.

    @43
    Yes it was, unfortunately I wasn't alive when those guys were racing and it was definitely eye openning. Especially with the H&S obsessed world now I can't imagine the DRIVERS petitioning for safety measures and being ignored by the track owners and the FIA.

  • Comment number 46.

    Ok it's not a new story but it is relevant for F1, good blog Andrew.

    Ok, so the car manufacturers and FIA want to go for more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly engines, as they do for their road cars and their boards. Understandably, F1 should lead the way in this field.

    Ok, so there are cost and control issues but Bernie and the circuit owners love the louder engines to maintain F1's image and to sell tickets. Understandable also.

    There is a solution to this issue and can be seen in almost every suburban town in the UK on Friday and Saturday evenings.

    I mean the muppets that 'cruise' the streets and cul-de-sacs in their 1.0litre Citroen Saxos or 1.2 litre Vauxhall Corsas with alloys wheels from bin lorries attached.

    Small engines and rediculously loud noise. Just get a copy of MaxPower or whatever the magazine is for Newey and Brawn so they can see where to punch holes in their exhaust systems.



    @23 "It does make me smile to see Benson choosing this as a topic given the obvious talking point of Jensons current form."
    I knew there would be one, so off topic but you can't help yourself, that truly is a pathetic comment.

  • Comment number 47.

    >"Well as much as we'd all like to see a gloves off no holes barred F1 the rules do rightly (in my opinion) get altered to stop someone running away with it."


    That's a radically new development in F1 though. The great drivers of yesteryear did their great things in cars which were significantly superior to the competition. And by yesteryear I mean everybody from Stewart to Senna. The way things are going we may as well just let FIA design one car with one engine for everybody.

  • Comment number 48.

    @45
    Quite right, you often hear when the top 3 are having a chat just before they go on the podium about stuff like that. Think it was Vettel and Jenson mentioning a marshall in Melbourne who wasn't doing anything/doing something he shouldnt have been doing at all to one of the officials.

    But I doubt these days you'll have scenes like you did during the Senna movie where in the briefing they were having a show of hands for supporting/voting against something.

    I.e. Bernie was clearly riled that Force India didn't take part in FP2 in Bahrain and tried to play down the situation.

  • Comment number 49.

    I'd like to see F1 bring back ground effect aerodynamics (it was discussed but decided against). That would increase cornering speeds - and that's where the fun is. (Take touring cars as an example: quite weak engines but awesome in the corners and the racing is superb).

    It was removed in the first place to limit cornering speeds for safety - and in 2007 Robert Kubica proved that even a concrete wall head-on at 150mph was no match for a modern F1 car.

    (P.S. Le Mans uses diesel, and they don't complain).

  • Comment number 50.

    @49
    The racing in Touring car is superb mainly because there is a low performance differencial between the different cars meaning that driver skill is generally what keeps the drivers at the front. Plus the balast used to slow down the faster drivers means much closer racing. It hasnt nothing to do with how good the cars are in the corners and to be honest Im not sure how good they are apart from a diffuser for aero and slicks/racing suspension for grip there isnt much difference to a road car

  • Comment number 51.

    Despite complaints about the way this year is going few people want to see a return to the Schmacher/Ferrari days and the FIA's constant rule fiddling does help that. However it's reached the point where they should start bringing some of these things back in rather than taking more out. Re-introducing ground effect aerodynamics or 4-wheel drive etc would shake things up. And as a few people have already said, as long as we're sensible about it, there is less need to ban things on safety grounds nowadays.

  • Comment number 52.

    @51
    How can you have 4 wheel drive in a single seater?

  • Comment number 53.

    Formula One should forget about environment problem and expensive KER system should not be included in 2014. One year CO2 emission from F1 cars are less than passenger car emitted CO2 in whole year.
    I like to see Twin Turbo In-Line 6 2 Ltr or Twin Turbo V6 2.0 Ltr engine.
    If you're thinking of come to America with Indy car engine and then Formula One won't be successful as NASCAR in US.
    If the small Teams like Marusia or HRT don't afford engine and then they should quit the F1. Less cars will have less accident on track too.
    I want to see powerful engine in Formula One car and less powerful engine in Indy, GP2 and other races.

  • Comment number 54.

    FI used to be good ,exciting and real..now it`s all about money to an astonishing degree..big boys toys!!!

    Mines bigger than yours....

  • Comment number 55.

    My personal opinion is the proposed new engine rules will strangle F1 even more than it is now . The greedy old man (Bernie) seems to think up ideas in his bath tub. F1 , he said , has to be seen to be eco friendly . I'm sorry but F1 is the peak of motorsport and should not be eco friendly. Soloution is V10's and V12's , rearrange the calendar to cut down on carbon etc used to transport then teams . Start in Australia then , malaysia, china , japan , south korea , india , abu dhabi , bahrain and work the globe that way . Less travel , F1 saves millions of tons of carbon emissions and we get proper sounding engines . Compare engine sounds via you tube , the change has been gradual so not to notice so much but look up a v10 from 10 years ago or a v12 from 1995 and compare the symphony of sound from those engines compared to todays. Eco people win Bernie wins and we enjoy proper engines not souped up Toyota Prius'

  • Comment number 56.

    @46

    I see what you are saying, however, it's not the 'big exhausts' that create the fantastic sounds of these v8's, it's the high revving, nearly 18k revs is why f1 cars sound so fantastic, there is nothing like it.

    I cannot describe the incredible sound, - having been at live races, it's just amazing.

    And I will be extremely disappointed if these new engines do come in, they will be loud, but not as high pitched and piercing. And that for me is a wrong move, look at the v10 engine and how everyone loved it!

    F1 is about escapism, sport, racing, the fans, and fast loud cars. It is not health and safety, it is not Eco friendly, and it's not road car relevant.

    It doesn't take a genius to work out the huge fuel saving that could be achieved if the FIA looked at a map of the world, (FIA - this is where we live, it's a called Planet earth) and planned the Callander accordingly. I mean Monaco to Canada then back to Spain!! - utter stupidity, and a huge huge waste of fuel.

    The engine change is purely PR. we should all petition against it and even dare to ask for v10's back! - would be amazing!

    F1 is F1 not 'Eco 1'

  • Comment number 57.

    As it's about being environmentally friendly, they'd be better ditching a few of the fly away Tilke tracks and sticking with some of the classic tracks of old nearer the team bases.

    The carbon footprint of not flying that amount of kit from the teams and the circus around the world would more than make up for the laps a more efficient F1 car would save.

    I'd suggest out with Yas Marina, Bahrain, Sepang or Shanghai and in with Le Mans, Imola, Brands Hatch, old Nurburgring with loads of marshalls and keep Spa full time. To counter complaints they should ditch Valencia as well.

    Any cost hit should just be taken by Bernie as it is for the good of the sport and he makes a disprpoortionate amount from the sport from being a chap who messed about with Brabham a few years ago. ;)

  • Comment number 58.

    The BBC have moved the British Grand Prix to BBC2.

    Makes you wonder why they bothered picking the event, when they have such a low regard for it.

  • Comment number 59.

    I think we need F1-X where you have a broad set of rules but after that it's up to the brilliance of the designers and engineers etc.

    All this quibbling regarding what Adrian Newey does on the Red Bull is maddening. This sport is supposed to be glamorous and expensive. The top, the best there is.

    Whilst I still enjoy F1, it seems to have lost it's way.

  • Comment number 60.

    @ Czar

    In fairness to the BBC, it is up against the Wimbledon final which could very well feature a British player. How stupid would they look if they had that on BBC2 because of the GP!

  • Comment number 61.

    @60. mr-big

    Then why didn't they chose a different race, like Canada perhaps, then they wouldn't have lost over 4 million viewers from that race.

    Wimbledon 'could' feature a British player, but there's one certainty the British Grand Prix will feature more than 1 British racer, maybe even one leading the world championship, as he does now.

    The BBC are on track to lose so many viewers, this new contract looks like it will be costing the BBC more per viewer, and more per hour than the old contract.

  • Comment number 62.

    I believe that the Turbo Engines will be good for the sport, as it may bring Honda back in to F1 as a manufacture which would be brilliant as maybe teams such as Mclaren may use them as an engine supplier again. Also Turbo engines produced some amazing races during the 1980s and some great F1 cars. This new Formula will be exciting to watch, therfore I am in favor of the switch in 2014.

  • Comment number 63.

    This is a rare occasion where F1 is behind road cars. I have a 1.4 petrol turbo Fiat. It has much more power, torque and efficiency than a standard 2.0 petrol. F1 will have to keep up to further this development as many major car manufactures are already going this way.( BMW, VW, Mercedes, Fiat, etc) It is a known fact that more power and efficiency can be gained with small cc turbo cars as compared to large cc engines. As for the sound argument, this is a nonsense. The manufactures can make the engines/ exhaust sound how they want and therefore should be told to do so. Why would any major manufacturer want their engines sounding flat, soulless or naff? They wouldn't. The simple solution is to let teams have the choice of running either engines for a couple of years until production costs/ development costs have dropped so the smaller teams can afford them and give them a cut off date.

  • Comment number 64.

    With the summer so far, rain will put Wimbledon back a week! The British GP could be up against the 3rd round matches. That means Andy Murray will still be in the tournament, still British, not yet Scottish but the media will be dumping all the pressure on him as usual.

    They better show Silverstone on the other HD channel then, and they better do a full forum as well if they can spare the red button capacity on freeview as well as satellite.

    "this new contract looks like it will be costing the BBC more per viewer"
    Just as many fans predicted, and probably a perfect excuse for Ben and Babs to scale back the BBC coverage of F1 even further year after year. Gives us no satisfaction at all, just a shame for F1 in the UK which grew so well till 2011.

  • Comment number 65.

    As has been the case for years, Mr. Eccy's cut of the F1 pie, if equitably distributed, should allow some of the lower placed teams to maintain a presence in the sport, even in a difficult financial climate. New engines won't ruin the sport, but Bernie"s disproportionate avarice might.

  • Comment number 66.

    @62, agreed.

    They probably have to give the smaller teams a choice, either that or the cost gets absorbed by the bigger teams for those years, or the bigger teams supply identical units at current costs to smaller teams as well, say Red Bull and Torro Rosso, Ferrari and Sauber, Merc and Force India etc.

    It's probably more about a control issue for Bernie, not wanting manufacturers to call the shots. He should let them do it but make them all field three cars each. I'd love to see 3 Macs VS 3 Ferraris rather than 2 Macs,2 Ferraris, 2 HRTs.

  • Comment number 67.

    I completely agree with Riggadon (comments #2 and #3). Ok the tone is a little harsh but three paragraphs into this piece and I just knew this was going to be yet another massively sensationalist column from A Benson predicting the end of the world as we know it all because of yet another little storm in a tea cup in the fantasy world that is F1. Break away series?? Rubbish. There's way too much money involved. Bernie will sort something out like he ALWAYS does.

  • Comment number 68.

    Surely I can't be the only one who loves Gary's 'pen and paper' bit? It's ramshackle, warm and human... qualities sorely missing from Sky's bombastic approach. If you like hollow showbiz glitz, then I guess that's the channel for you. Wandering around a CG car, caked in make-up has significantly less impact on me than an intelligent man saying intelligent things a simple, direct manner. I think the Beeb need all the support they can get after Bernie's latest ridiculous comments to a broadsheet in which he clearly lays out his desire for the sport to be hidden behind a lucrative paywall globally in its entirety. (Of course they didn't help their cause by sticking the Canadian highlights on so late to make way for flipping football. Don't do that again! Put it on BBC 2 earlier if the BBC 1 slot is taken up by some other nonsense in future, please...)

  • Comment number 69.

    @68, I love Gary's pen and paper bit as well, mainly because he is a proper engineer who analyses the cars really well to explain the engineering decisions and trade-offs. He has also been good at spotting and calling strategies during the races and great with his post race reporting.

    It's a bit off when people complain about his approach just because he isn't carrying an unneccesary ipad, or if he is a bit more sweaty than the Sky presenters because he has been racing about the 35 degree C pitlane for stories and to analyse what is happening.

    Some of the Sky stuff is overly sterile, patronising and with over the top 3D graphic transitions of stats, reminders of dolby surround broadcasts etc. Looks too American, heading the way of Fox News, though not really surprised there. Pointless fluff that adds nothing.

    Reminds me of some people at work.
    I'd far rather work with someone that was a grafter that knows their stuff from experience but wears their shirt untucked, rather than some useless mid manager who has a tie and shiney shoes but who's contribution is to go on about ipads and tweeting and blue sky thinking.

    Nobody slags off Newey because he sometimes goes back to his old technical drawing board to visualise solutions.

  • Comment number 70.

    @ Riggadon

    #1: welcome to Britain - this is the media that has been created by the demand from muppets like you.

    #2: you may have a vendetta against the man, but i'm afraid on this one you are wrong - you have obviously never read his profile before.

    Good luck, you need it without brains.

  • Comment number 71.

    1. If you don't like the content of the piece don't read it move onto the Sky F1 Channel.
    2. Obviously if Bernie doesn't like the changes he will throw his teddy out the pram, collect his toys and threaten to move on. This will suit Bernie, he always wants control 100% control and nothing less.
    3. I do not favour the change myself, in the current economic climate it could spell the end for several teams.
    4. Stop bitching about Andrew Benson and concentrate on the topic he has highlighted.

  • Comment number 72.

    Why do so many F1 fans perpetuate the myth that F1 drivers are the best in the world? Yes they are among the best but what about NASCAR drivers such as Jimmy Johnston and Tony Stewart?

    Despite their best efforts no ex F1 drivers has been able to win on an oval in the senior league, not Raikkonen, not Montoya, not Villenueve, not Speed, not Piquet. So please, a few less superlatives when describing F1 drivers.

    And if you have ever watched the Daytona 500 up close and personal you will know that is the best RACE in the world.

  • Comment number 73.

    I do not like Andrew Benson as an F1 journalist.

    The impression I gain from his blogs and analysis is one of a person who is residing in grandeur because of the title bestowed upon him, and not because of his passion for the sport.

    I often find him biased, cheap in his analysis and poor in his interpretation of Formula One.

    For me, it appears that he has been placed in this position, not because of of the variety, quality and interest of the work that he produces, but because of the right things he has said to the right people.

    I feel it would be better if the Beeb would invest more money and time into providing more daily news and a variety of features about F1, to complement their current coverage. Sometimes over a week goes by without a new story or news update.

    The Chief F1 writer can't be writing that much, can he?

    In regards to the F1 coverage the BBC is still far in advance of SKY. The SKY coverage is very staid, and gets worse as races go on, there is little worthy comment as the presenters bumble through the races, some of the remarks are comical and remind me of football commentry...

    "If Massa had gone faster, he could have overtaken him..." Really!!?

    In Gary Anderson, DC and Lee McKenzie, the Beeb have a thoroughly professional team. DC is whitty and down the line, Lee is to the point and on the money and Gary Anderson is an excellent example and ambassador for the sport - a real engineer with fantastic insight and understanding of F1 and how to build a race winning car - it's about time that we had this style of information.

    So what if he has a pen an paper, people used to write to each other with those you know.

    Those stone-age tools are often the staple of any engineers communication tools, unlike the whimsical use of ipads and graphics from the other side who dress folks up to appear like they know what they are talking about.

    And as for the engines... bring it on. It's about time Bernie lost his strangle hold over this sport and the teams, manufacturers and circuits had a bit more of a say.

    Teams will come and go, change will always happen, but like we have seen in the past, the F1 circus will continue to roll onwards in some way, shape or form.

    I think this season is one of the best ever, as we have seen variety, intense competition and upset and some fantastic driving so far, and we still have 13 races to go!

    Variety is the spice of life don't forget!

  • Comment number 74.

    @4 Taking the shackles off the designers and engineers will lead to the same thing.

    The first year we will see these exciting new developments that teams will try, then someone will win the constructors title, and the other teams will head in this direction, couple of years down the line, all the cars will look identical.

  • Comment number 75.

    @72
    Really? The best drivers in the world are those that go round an oval 300 times?

    And it was nice having a blog actually talking about F1 for a change, but people are still bitter about the TV deal, another blog ruined and dried up before it had run it's course.

  • Comment number 76.

    @74 Fair point, yes you'll always have teams trying to copy each other. But over the past few years, no one had a blown diffuser as good as Red Bull's and has anyone been able to copy the Merc's double DRS from this year?

  • Comment number 77.

    Of course the motor manufacturers want the change: Ferrari/Fiat, Mercedes, Renault. The trend in road cars is for small engine, high efficiency with quite a bit of welly when the customer is prepared to pay. But, what has this to do with F1. Please don't anyone say the word GREEN or more fuel efficient because that makes no sense at all. Not one jot. Moving F1 around the world takes huge amount of fuel, the cars are largely made from carbon fibre and other composites and that means oil. Massive numbers of tyres are used and this requires oil/energy and those tires will not reduce in number. It takes the equivalent of 25 litres of oil to produce a standard road tyre. Work that out for a complete season with 12 teams and 20 races.
    Anything said by the FIA or the teams to do with green/efficiency is a lie because any saving will be tiny when compared to the overall use of oil/energy.
    Keep it up Bernie.

  • Comment number 78.

    @ 52
    I didn't realise you had to have more than one seat to enable you to have four-wheel-drive. I think you'll find Williams tried fwd a while ago (admittedly with a six (yes!) wheeled car..four driven wheels at the back) but decided against it; too complex, too heavy.
    Take a look at the worlds greatest motor race this weekend, Audi e-tron Quattro!

    I love F1 but must admit to being disappointed that it has now become a tyre formula, not withstanding 7 races 7 winners. I understand all the arguments about the "complete" driver being one who can go fastest while conserving tyres/fuel etc etc BUT if you want that, go see Le Mans Audi vs Toyota, that's endurance racing.
    F1 should be who can design, build & drive the fastest car over a given number of laps. Give Mr.Newey & the like, free reign, a 3litre engine (preferably really loud) of any configuration, a certain amount of fuel & go play.
    Mr Chapman would approve I think.
    And, let Bernie sort it out.
    Dread to think what would/will happen when/if Bernie is not around.
    DiZem's comments re costs of new engines is not about them costing too much, it's about them being irrelevant to Ferrari's road car business.

    I didn't realise the Beeb had put British Grand Prix on TWO, thanks for info.

  • Comment number 79.

    @78
    That's not really FWD in a conventional way though is it? Only sending power to the back wheels, however many of them there are.

  • Comment number 80.

    @72, F1 drivers on ovals, look no further than the Indy 500...

    Jim Clark won, destroying the field.

    Graham Hill won

    Mario Andretti won

    Emerson Fittipaldi won

    as have Jacques Villeneuve and JP Montoya.

  • Comment number 81.

    Not so long ago the teams where complaining about being held back with development due to the want to reduce the high speeds that the cars where achieving, so now is their chance to lead the way in what is the only direction for motor sport of all types to go, small engines with low fuel use and low emissions. This is of course an area that the Japanese manufacturers have always excelled in (just look at Nissan's 24hr Le man project) so I am sure it will only be a matter of time before Honda,Toyota or one of the other big manufacturer's from this region show up with a low cost,high revving,reliable package available to the team's requiring engine's.

  • Comment number 82.

    #72 Nigel Mansel came straight from F1 as world champ and in his rookie season won CART Indy Car (only man to be F1 and CART champ at the same time)
    Infact in his first race he took pole and the win.
    Also on his 40th birthday won the 500 miles at Michigan.
    Even though I am a Brit, through and through, he was by no way the best F1 Driver of all time. So maybe F1 drivers ARE the best.......

  • Comment number 83.

    The new engine rule can drive maybe the independent Cosworth away but it can also bring back Honda, Toyota or even a new manufacturor like Hyundai who has heaps of experiënce with small turbo engines. Renault will be the main winner howeever they have the most experiënce.

  • Comment number 84.

    @79
    I was only joshing.... But, it was a single seater!
    The Audi e-tron is not actually a FWD in the "conventional" sense either, with turbo diesel driving the rear & two electric motors driving the front (as an aside, did you know the Audi is using a flywheel system developed by Williams as distinct from batteries?!) Of course the P1 cars are really single seaters with the pretence of being two seater.
    I think by "conventional" you may mean the "hardware" type as in the original Quattro & Land Rover etc. I'm not sure but I think that Colin Chapman may have tried that for the Indy 500 with Graham Hill, but came to the same conclusions that Williams did later.
    Sorry to be pedantic.
    Must put the Radio on now, am completely fed-up with Euro 2012 already, now that is a boring sport!
    Cheerio.

  • Comment number 85.

    F1 Leads the world in technological changes. They must be allowed to introduce advancements in technology as and when they are required. F1 technology appear on all road cars (eventually) this is a step forward in the evolution of F1 engines. The doubters would wish us to return to the 1950's when every driver drove by the seat of his pants, and when F1 was controlled by Dynosaurs. I have been an F1 fan since the year dot, however I do not always agree with Mr Ecclestone. Mr Ecclestone has done wonders for F1 in the past, however I now firmly believe he is holding back F1 and the brilliant engineers employed in the teams.

  • Comment number 86.

    @84
    I want that barmy Nissan Delta Wing to do well at Le Mans, I know it can't officially win as its been placed in its own group due largely to being utterly mental.

    @85
    Bernie only cares about the cash now, not the show.

  • Comment number 87.

    @16 the numbers aren't taking into account those of us watching live on RTL or Polsat and using 5live for the commentary.
    ...having said that, I'm thinking that the Polsat commentary was more interesting than 5live though I don't speak Polish.

  • Comment number 88.

    Personally I'd like to see more fuel limited 4 cylinder turbo engines @ around 2 litre, there would still be lots of power but it would push fuel efficiency & it would all be much more relevant to the road.
    The other thing I'd love to see would be no aero devices other than a plain wing at front & rear.
    They should keep the plank (but further limit the lowering of the car).

    That way we'd see proper over-taking, not the fake (and frankly unfair) DRS nonsense.

  • Comment number 89.

    If the cost of the new engines is so high that backmarkers Marussia and HRT can't afford them and cease to exist, that's not the end of the (F1) world. F1 has got by with 'only' 10 teams in the past, it can do it again if necessary.

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    @86
    I agree, that would be fantastic, it does look bonkers! Haven't seen it go yet. Nissan should've hooked up with the film makers for the new Batman movie & get the drivers to wear the suit!!
    Doesn't it have a 1.6 Turbo??

 

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