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Cosworth, Xtrac and Ricardo - A look at standardised technologies for 2010

Published by Mr. C

This morning Max Mosley sent a letter to F1 teams detailing the FIA's plans for standardised parts in 2010. The communication contained lots of telling information as to what direction the sport will be taking in the future. Given that the FIA finally managed to show us some transparency in this area, it's worth digging into what was specified.

With great power

The key point noted in the letter is that a decision has been made regarding the tendering process to provide a supply of engine and transmission systems for the period 2010 to 2012. Cosworth will provide what Max is calling "a current Formula One engine", which leads us to assume that it's the already homologated V8 last seen running in the back of a Williams at the end of 2006.

Cosworth's last Grand Prix

Despite the sports supposed engine 'freeze', the Cosworth must've fallen behind the development curve of current powerplants. In fact at the end of '06, they had already started to lose ground on track so presumably these units will now offer comparably less performance. Will the FIA allow upgrades, insist others kerb their capabilities, or leave things as they are?

Cosworth have plenty of history in Formula One, and while it's good to see the name return, the final products will sadly be supplied "unbadged". Teams also have the option to build their own version, although quite who this will appeal to I can't imagine? Alternately teams may continue to use their own pre-existing engines for the next four years.

Selection process

On the gear box side of the equation, two names were mentioned - Xtrac and Ricardo. We know very little about these suppliers but Max notes that the product will be "state-of-the-art and a joint effort".

While the engine is optional for Formula 1 entrants, the transmission will be mandatory for all from 2010. What's not entirely clear is how many races these boxes will have to last for, but hey, it'll be the same for everybody.

Closeup on Honda gears

Xtrac are based near Newbury and currently supply the gearbox for all A1GP cars. That fact alone ought to raise a bunch of FIA / Ferrari conspiracy theories.

The Xtrac website states they already carry out gearbox work for a number of F1 teams, one of which is known to be Williams. The company have appeared on our radar recently, as they are also developing a KERS solution, and while Max doesn't specifically refer to it we're assuming that standardised KERS is included in the proposal.

Ricardo are located in West Sussex and to all intents and purposes look like they do similar things to Xtrac. In fact given the cross over of capabilities between the companies, it's hard to say who'll be responsible for each part of the design and build. Past history suggests the two companies are often competitors.

Also not clear is where this leaves Torotrak, a company that partnered with Xtrac last year to develop KERS solutions.

There are interesting times ahead for Formula 1. Although none of us were expecting Honda to up sticks in the manner that they have, it's pretty clear the FIA have been anticipating it for some time. Technical details are pretty thin on the ground at the moment, and no doubt the likes of Racecar Engineering will have more at some point.

In the meantime, if you have any thoughts on the standardisation of F1 parts - be they engines, gearboxes, KERS or anything else, please let us know in the comments.