14:01 – FIA president Jean Todt does not intend to be ‘blackmailed’ by Red Bull Racing. That team has set a tough deadline for the other teams and the motorsport federation. They must agree to Red Bull’s proposal to discontinue the further development of the engines from 2022 before 15 November. If they fail to do so, Red Bull and AlphaTauri will risk leaving Formula 1.
Honda saddled Red Bull with a major problem in early October. The engine manufacturer was surprised with the decision to stop the F1 project at the end of 2021, which meant that Red Bull and AlphaTauri would no longer have engines from 2022.
In response, various options were juxtaposed at Red Bull’s headquarters in Fuschl am See. As a return to customer team status (at Renault, Ferrari or Mercedes) was not preferred, it was examined whether the Milton Keynes factory could take over the production of the Honda engines from 2022 onwards. That turned out to be possible, but only if this were limited to the production of the existing engines, further development and improvement would become too complex and expensive.
Red Bull decided to ask the other engine manufacturers to agree to a collective stop of the development of the power sources until the end of 2025. Red Bull did indicate that it wants to have a definite answer by 15 November. If that party is canceled, Red Bull threatens to leave Formula 1.
Todt has taken note of the proposal and the deadline and had to laugh a lot, he says Car, motor and sport record. “In May, Red Bull came to us with the story that there should be absolutely no stop on the development of the engines, because otherwise Honda would leave. Now they want the opposite. It can go that fast in this sport.” The Frenchman does not intend to be blackmailed by Red Bull. “I respect every opinion and every request, but I will not be blackmailed. By no one.”
Incidentally, Todt is not opposed to cost savings in the motor field. However, it should not be forgotten that Formula 1 wants to move towards a CO2-neutral sport and that will require a substantial investment in the next few years, says the former Ferrari team boss. In concrete terms, driving with 100 percent sustainable fuels must be carried out from 2023. This requires costly adjustments to the existing hybrid V6 engines and that is precisely the bottleneck that Red Bull is facing.
“We have to race emission-free, sooner rather than later”, said Todt and there is a reason for that. Formula 1 wants to move towards new engine regulations in 2026 and behind the scenes we are already working hard to implement this. In order to attract new manufacturers, the new power sources must become less complex, cheaper and cleaner than the current generation, Todt continues. “Formula 1 is still way too expensive. We have [met de invoering van het budgetplafond] achieved something, but we need to take more steps to reduce costs even further. “
Early introduction of new engine regulations
A devilish dilemma therefore: on the one hand, the costs have to be reduced to attract new manufacturers, but to make the sport ‘greener’, the costs will first go up, with the possible consequence that Red Bull will leave with two teams. Todt would therefore not be against skipping the intermediate phase from 2023 to 2026 and introducing the completely new engine regulations not only in 2026, but already in 2023.
“If it is possible, why not?” It could mean that Red Bull will remain involved, and Renault and Ferrari have already indicated that they are not unwelcome to this plan. But Ferrari wants to know in the short term exactly what that engine will look like and what the costs will be. Questions to which Todt does not (yet) have an answer. “Two or three years ago, for example, nobody thought about fuel cells. And now that is suddenly the sacred cow. I have to say that I don’t know.” The only thing he knows for sure is that the regulations must become more attractive. “The new engine format must have the potential to attract new manufacturers.”
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