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Let a thousand engines bloom // An idea for Ross Brawn's consideration

Published by Alex Andronov

Ross Brawn is trying to deal with a tricky situation. Half the teams want budget restrictions, the other half don’t. Half the teams want engine restrictions, the other half don’t. They aren’t the same groups, there are all kinds of strange overlaps. Mercedes want the engine restrictions but not the budget cuts, Honda want the budget cuts but not the engine restrictions. They are all after their own self interests - as it ever was.

A power unit problem solving idea

There is a way through, I think, which might help all concerned, here are the rules:

  1. There is no restriction on the number of engines that you can use in a season
  2. If you are a Formula 1 engine supplier, you are not allowed to restrict who you sell engines to (as long as they are an F1 team, you have to supply them if they ask and they pay)
  3. You can as an engine supplier supply more than one type of engine, but you must supply the engine that you use
  4. The total budget for customer teams to spend on engines will be set in advance at $15m (or whatever the number should be, based on today’s average spend)
  5. If you run out of engines, you can exceed your budget but your constructor points count for half

And that’s it. So first of all Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Honda will have to work out if they would rather create a tank of an engine that takes up the whole engine spend and can’t break, or have a new engine for every session which is super fast and super unreliable, or something in between.

I think this approach would create lots of innovation and development, create huge dilemmas for the teams on strategy. It would create genuine cost savings, because you have put a limit on something that is sold, not a budget cap which can be circumvented. Essentially of course Ferrari or Mercedes could decide to spend way more on the engines than their rivals do, even though they won’t be able to recover the money through selling the engines. There isn’t a rule about it, but essentially there is something to stop them doing it... If they make an engine much better than everyone else’s they have to supply it to everyone at the same price.

Interesting idea, or total nonsense? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have your say!