Ecclestone: Turbo engines are an unnecessary cost we might regret

Bernie Ecclestone uneasy about the future of F1 with the turbo engine era looming

Bernie Ecclestone uneasy about the future of F1 with the turbo engine era looming

Formula 1 has taken a big gamble with its radically different 2014 engine and manufacturers who get it wrong will pay a heavy price, the sport’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone warned on Thursday.

The 82-year-old billionaire has been a consistent opponent of the new 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 engine which is due to replace the current 2.4 litre V8 unit in the biggest rules revamp in decades.

Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault have all committed huge sums to developing the units, with energy recovery systems and greater fuel efficiency, which will also cost the teams considerably more than at present.

“The danger is if one of those three get it wrong, whoever they are, it’s going to cost a fortune to catch up,” Ecclestone told Reuters at the Monaco Grand Prix. “And as they are catching up, the other people are going forward. At the moment, everything’s fine. There’s very little anyone can do now. The danger is all three think they’ve got the right engine. When reality sets in, then it will be too late.”

Jacques Laffite suffered turbo failure in his Ligier JS27 during the 1986 British GP

Jacques Laffite suffered turbo failure in his Ligier JS27 during the 1986
British GP

Ecclestone will meet Renault chief executive Carlos Ghosn at the season’s showcase race this weekend and the cost of the engines is likely to be discussed.

Renault currently supply four teams, including champions Red Bull, but could have five customers for their engines next season if Toro Rosso switch from Ferrari.

Mercedes and Ferrari power three teams at present while the remaining team, Marussia, have engines provided by Cosworth who are expected to depart at the end of the year. Honda will be returning in 2015 to power McLaren.

Ecclestone, who has voiced concern in the past that the different sound of the new engines will alienate fans, said the extra expense being imposed on teams was unnecessary.

“Some costs are costs. Nothing you can do about it. But this is unnecessary cost because what we had was perfect,” he said. “What’s going on now, everybody’s happy – happy with the Formula 1 noise, happy with the costs, happy with everything. They (the manufacturers) could produce these (current) engines and still make a profit at 25 percent less than they are going to charge for these other engines.”

Mercedes F1 turbo engine

2014 prototype Mercedes F1 turbo engine

The cost of the 2014 units has produced increasingly loud rumblings from teams fearful of a return to the days when an engine supply could cost in excess of $30 million a year compared to about $10 million in 2013.

“It’s a massive change, probably the biggest change Formula One’s seen for probably the last 25 years, I would have thought,” said Red Bull principal Christian Horner, whose team have Renault/Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand as their title sponsor.

“It’s hellishly expensive, especially with trying to develop a car this year and design and produce a car for next year with the changes that have been introduced, the timing of which probably isn’t ideal for some of the teams further down the grid.” (Reuters)

  • McLarenfan

    Why they don’t stop the Kers and all the bull and run on green fuel like methane gas i will never know all this extra expense for harvesting from braking could be done away with and nice cheap methane gas saves loads of money and turns F1 in to the green sport.

  • Flash Flaherity of the Long Ski

    2014 is set to be a game changer. When a car looses KERS today they can at least maintain position for some time. In 2014 loosing KERS will mean dropping out. A turbo failure – end of race. Overheating – end of race. Add to this the continued crap tire saga along with the press-to-pass DRS gadget, and you have a formula all right, for disaster. At the peek of its success, the FIA and F1 management have decided that this was the perfect time to jump off cliff crazy.

  • Bernie having another temper tantrum?

    It is way beyond time for Bernie to go. He causing so much trouble for so many with his negative comments that keep teams from getting sponsors and trashes tracks hurting their ability to attract funding and sponsors.

    Just look at Texas how he trashed the place all the time saying they were not going to be on the schedule and they would not make it. Wrong Bernie. Maybe the USA formula one team could have had a chance to attract sponsors except for the fact Bernie was in the press every other day bashing them scarring away any sponsors who might have been interested.

    The real fact is if Bernie can’t have his way he runs around trashing everything trying to subvert it so it won’t happen.

    Bernie you are an old fool, please go away because you cause far more harm to formula one then you help it today.

    As a supporter of formula one this is my advice to you Bernie “Shut you’re freaking pie hole old man and retire today”.

  • Flash Flaherity is wrong

    It will be good for formula one to have some failures of engines that way the drivers have to think and conserve their cars. Todays formula one has become to reliable.

    Formula One needs the unpredictability of engine failures and the tires are just fine. Because your team got it wrong you cry.

    Todays formula one has become a game for pansies it seems.

  • Butterfly


    Oh, but then F1 wouldn’t be relevant to road cars, would it?

    I mean, all road cars generate 20KN of downforce, right? And they all have slick tires, engines that rev to 18K RPM, and brakes that would stop a jumbo jet and work at the temperature of molten lava.

    See, we need road-car fuel. Silly man.

  • Pirelli Engine Corp.

    “It will be good for formula one to have some failures of engine”

    Yes indeed! In fact WE intend to make engines for 2014 guaranteed to fall apart at least five times per team per season! if that’s not good enough (bad enough?) we’ll make engines for 2015 which fail more often.

  • Apex Assassin

    Why spend untold millions to have close racing and then arbitrarily scrap that working product for the unknown? It’s a poor business model.

    Not to mention the low rev’s and artificially amplified turbo whine…