Aston Martin: We cancelled our F1 engine plans

Aston Martin lost interest in making a Formula 1  engine after the sport changed its mind about new rules from 2021, chief executive Andy Palmer said on Sunday.

The British sportscar maker, title sponsor of former world champions Red Bull Racing, had talked this year about the possibility of becoming an engine supplier.

Formula One’s post-2020 vision set out in April envisaged cheaper and simpler engines to encourage new manufacturers into the sport, with Porsche and Aston Martin attending some meetings.

“When it looked like the rules were going to change, we did take a look at whether we should do our own engine for F1,” Palmer told Reuters ahead of Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“But then [commercial rights holders] Liberty [Media] essentially changed their mind and continued with the current engine, so we cancelled those plans.”

Red Bull announced last June that it would switch from Renault to Honda engines next season in a deal that also includes 2020.

Commercial agreements with teams, loosely referred to as ‘Concorde’, run to the end of 2020 and Liberty are keen to create a more level playing field and improve competition after then.

The current 1.6 litre V6 turbo hybrid engines were introduced in 2014, since when only the top three teams have won a race and Mercedes have won all 10 drivers’ and constructors’ titles.

The engines have been criticised as too costly and complicated but the four existing manufacturers are wary of incurring significant costs in developing an alternative just as the power gaps are closing.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said in August it would be better to take more time to get the future engine right and change before 2023 was unlikely.

“The premise that was being put forward originally was an investment cap on the engine and it would be simplified,” said Palmer.

“Simplification was around the turbo charger and the energy recovery, essentially taking that unit out which is where the majority of the development exists. As soon as the cap was removed it was not viable for us.”

Palmer said Aston backed Red Bull’s Honda partnership, and saw the Japanese manufacturer working hard to improve performance.

“Red Bull makes its own decision, I’m certainly supportive of that decision. It is a good way to go,” he added.

Aston Martin also announced it was a establishing a new regional office at Yas Marina, with the circuit becoming the marque’s official ‘home’ in the Middle East.